Match Report: Longridge Town 3-0 AVRO
By Ellie Hamilton
A magnificent crowd of 452 saw Town overcome title rivals AVRO with an impressive performance at The MRG last night.
With Ryan McKenna still Missing through illness, Manager Lee Ashcroft started with the same side that beat Carlisle City 7-0 on Saturday with Adam Lawrence continuing at centre half, and youngster George Thomason at left back.
AVRO were a big, physical side and started the game better than Town and creating several half chances, without worrying Lee Dovey in the Home goal. Louis Potts in particular looked pacy and dangerous but Thomason equal to him.
The referee was trying to ‘manage’ the game and seemed reluctant to issue a card if any colour despite several crude challenges from the away side.
Town settled after a quarter of an hour and began to play, a great ball from Tom Ince release Richie Allen but the strikers shot was saved by the feet of keeper Jordan Latham, the first of many times that he was to keep his side in the game.
After a foul too many, AVRO finally received their first yellow card of the game, quickly followed by three more.
Tom Ince then let fly from 25 yards only to see Latham’s fingertips touch the ball onto the crossbar. Five minutes later Jay Hart was denied by the woodwork after a set piece involving Sinclair and Ince, somehow still 0-0.
It was all Town now and before long the pressure finally paid off. Sinclair set Allen free and he fired into the net hard and low from a tight angle. Jay Hart bundled the ball into the net to make sure but the goal was Richie’s and no less than Town deserved. 1-0 after 35 minutes.
In the following 10 minutes Town really should have increased their lead, Latham making a superb save from Tom Ince’s goalbound lob.
In fact, as the whistle went for half time, you could sense the crowds apprehension that Town has missed an opportunity to make the game safe, even after only 45 minutes.
Half time Longridge Town 1-0 AVRO.
No changes at the break but Chris Turner was forced off after only two minutes of the second half, still limping after an earlier foul. Ben Fletcher replaced Turner in a like for like swap.
The game continued in a similar vein, Town passing the ball around well and the visitors seeking to impose their physical strength on the Home side.
With 65 minutes gone AVRO paid the price for one foul challenge too many as Kane Wallwork was shown a straight red card for a late challenge right in front of the dugouts.
This prompted a 22 man, plus Managers and Assistants, melee which took a good five minutes to subside. No further cards were issued but advantage was with Town now playing against 10 men.
Hart was foiled by Latham when clean through, and Allen’s cross shot somehow ended in the keepers hands as he appeared to drag the ball back from over the line. No goal, still 0-0, and the result still in doubt.
Following another yellow card for AVRO, joint Manager Lee O’Brien was ordered from the dugout and watched the remainder of the game through the Clubhouse window.
15 minutes left and Mike Norton was introduced for the visitors, as Rio Wilson Heys was brought on to make his debut for Town.
The experienced Norton looked threatening but Lawrence and Conor Linighan at the heart of the Town defence held firm. If Norton looked threatening then Wilson Heys looked positively dangerous.
The flying winger tore the fullback to pieces the first time he ran at him, and Town looked to get the ball wide as quickly as possible.
With 83 minutes played Richie got his second, and made the game safe, cutting in from the right, beating two men before shooting into the far corner. Wild celebrations ensued amongst the crowd, and a feeling of relief was evident, as Town finally looked like getting the three points.
There was still time for Wilson Heys to again beat his man, before driving into the penalty area and being brought down for a clear penalty.
Allen wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity of a hat trick, and buried the ball past Latham to make it 3-0. Richie waved to the crowd, the Clubhouse and both benches as he jogged back to the half way line.
Game over 3-0.
At the final whistle, the animosity of the game disappeared, hand shakes all round, and the crowd of 452 applauded both sides from the pitch after a cracking, very hard fought game. A credit to this level of football, all round.
Town now sit 12 points clear at the top of the NWCFL Division One North, with AVRO still having three games in hand.
Eight games remaining, and all to play for.