match date: Sat 18th Feb
posted by: W Dodd - Monday 20th February, 2012
NEW BOY ANDERSON FIRES HOME THE WINNER
A thrilling cup encounter between IRLAM FC and Holker Old Boys at Silver St on Saturday was finally resolved with a 5-4 win on penalties after the scoreline remained 1-1 after extra time.
The win sends IRLAM into a two legged semi final against Wigan Robin Park in the League Divisional Trophy. The win was made all the more significant for the Silver St side, who ended the game with just nine players after Irlamís Dean Burgess and Gary Prescott both saw red.
A swirling wind and falling temperatures meant the game was never destined to be a classic, and Irlam nearly fell behind soon after kick off, when a Danny Butters backpass to Brewer in the Irlam goal almost let Holker no 9 Chris Brown in but Irlamís Chris Hilton slid in to rescue the situation.
Soon after, a challenge on Hilton left the Irlam centre half unable to carry on, with central partner Steve Mills also needing treatment after a strong challenge sent the Irlam player crashing to the ground.
The game had to wait 20 mins for the first realistic chance, Holker captain Guy Heffernan shooting hopefully from 20yrds, and at the other end Irlam forward Gary Prescott, typically playing off the last defender was judged offside as he broke for goal.
The deteriorating weather saw the away side seemingly better suited to the conditions as they enjoyed a decent spell of possession, and a curled ball into Irlams box saw Irlamís Simon Myerscough head over for a corner. The corner was cleared, and the award of a free kick outside the area saw Holker fire a shot in again, this time rising over the bar as the visitors again failed to make the best of their chances.
With half time approaching, and the match goalless it was hoped that the decent crowd would have more to cheer after the break as the final action, a cleared away free kick from Holker signalled half time.
Manager Nick Parkers team talk seemed to have an effect on the Irlam players, as the team picked up the tempo in the game, hoping for the early breakthrough in the half.
An early shot from Irlamís Darren Green just rose over the bar , and when Chris Plamer was fouled just outside the Holker penalty area, Irlamís Adam Pegg drove the free kick low and hard, but easily collected by Holker keeper Ross Liddicot.
With 52 minutes gone, the deadlock was broken, when Irlamís Gary Prescott, standing in an offside position initially, stepped back onside before racing onto a through ball to grab the opening goal of the game. Holkers furious protests at what they believed was an offside goal were waived away by match official Mr Denton as the goal stood.
On the restart a flurry of action, saw Irlam keeper Brewer block a certain goal from Holkers Conor Erdis, whilst at the other end Danny Butters went close to adding a second goal for the home side.
A significant move in the game came when Prescott found space to run down the left wing before cutting the ball back to Green, and a neat lay off from Green saw Irlamís Pegg fire over the bar to see a real chance go begging.
A free kick from Holkers Kevin Watson went just wide, and as the play returned to the other end, a Butters cross just failed to find Prescott, as the Irlam striker lost his marker.
Prescott again found himself in space minutes later, and a spectacular volley just whistled wide of the Holker goal.
A decent move for the visitors led to them finding their way back into the tie, a shot from Heffernan magnificently pushed behind by Brewer for a corner, but the resulting corner saw Irlam switch off as Chris Brown emerged through a sea of players to fire in the equaliser.
With just 5 minutes left of normal time, and the tie heading for extra time, Irlam suffered a real blow, losing midfield player Dean Burgess, sent off for a second caution of the afternoon as Irlam faced the prospect of being a man down in extra time, as the final whistle signalled the 2nd phase of the game.
As the extra time started, the weather became atrocious, with players struggling to see as the sideways sleet blew across the ground. The first controversial point of the game came soon after, as the asst referee called over the referee, and after a brief conversation called over Irlam forward Prescott before showing him a straight red card, apparently as a result of a coming together with the Irlam forward and a Holker player.
Down to nine men, but not out of it, the game still seemed finely balanced as the visitors failed to make their advantage count.
Recent Irlam signing Conor Anderson came on to replace Darren Green, and immediately found himself in space in the Holker area, before shooting over the bar under pressure from Holker defenders.
At the other end, Irlam keeper Brewer certainly kept his side in this tie, producing an amazing save from Holkers Brown.
The last chance of the added time fell to Irlam right back Barry Lomas, who just lifted his shot over the bar as the whistle sounded for penalties.
With Irlam taking the first penalty, captain Chris Palmer led by example with a superb spot kick to put the pressure on the visitors. There then followed immaculate penalties from Mills, Lomas and Duffy as Holker replied in kind, and with the last two penalties of the five to be taken, new boy Conor Anderson bravely stepped up to fire past Liddicot in the Holker goal to set up a tense last penalty before sudden death for Holker.
Last man up for Holker was captain Guy Heffernan, and with the home crowd making plenty of noise in the terraced stand behind the goal, Heffernan faltered, dragging his shot wide to signal a fantastic cup victory for the home side. Irlam going through 5-4 on penalties.
Irlam amazingly play Holker again this weekend, this time in league action up at the Barrow based sides ground. Irlam have booked a 55 seater executive coach for the trip to Holker, and seats are available on a first come first served basis for just £5 a head, not including admission to the ground.
The coach will be leaving Silver St at 11.30am, so please be there 30 mins before departure.
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