North West Counties League

Whitchurch Alport 1

Irlam 1

Joe Howell’s 93rd-minute header earned Alport a well-deserved point with Irlam at Yockings Park.

The visitors had led since the second minute after a superbly executed free-kick from Matty Boland had found the bottom corner of Dave Parton’s net.

The Reds were staring at a fourth straight league defeat – and each by a one-goal margin – until Howell popped up in the box to bullet home from a superb Nick Marley cross. It was the least the home side deserved as they probed for an equaliser that looked like it was unlikely to arrive.

Irlam keeper Lee White had taken almost every cross but had been warned by the referee to speed things up as he attempted to use up precious seconds with time running out. And he got lucky just before the goal when Arron Johns saw his shot deflected and loop beyond the stranded goalkeeper.

Fortunately for White the ball bounced fractionally wide of the post and it looked like Alport’s hopes had ended. Enter Howell who arrived unmarked to rescue a point.

In the early stages, Parton set a four-man wall in an attempt to thwart Boland, but the number 10 picked out the corner with the Whitchurch stopper beaten all ends up. The home side were given a great chance to level on 12 minutes when the referee indicated a handball in the box.

But Jordan Cole missed from the spot as White dived to his right and clung onto the ball.

Jordan Buckley and Marcus Perry both forced Parton into making first-half saves and at the halfway stage it was Irlam that held the slender advantage.

With fingernails being chewed all around, Howell’s header brought loud cheers from the home supporters who had urged their side forward in a dominant last 15 minutes.

There was almost a dramatic late twist when Connor Martin saw his viciously swerving 25-yarder clip the top of the crossbar in the dying seconds.

But few would argue both sides deserved something in a tremendous advert for the league.