North West Counties Football League Premier Division

Irlam 4

Whitchurch Alport 2

A DISASTROUS start from an all at sea Whitchurch Alport defence handed a four goal start to an Irlam side that might still have surrendered their lead after a spirited second half performance.

By that stage, however, the damage had long since been done.

Oscar Campbell gave the hosts a sixth minute lead and a double from Jordan Icely followed by a quickfire Callum Nicholas deflection saw Irlam four nil up inside 19 minutes.

Nicholas had also hit the post when it looked easier to score in between from a third one-on-one situation in the opening exchanges.

Poor Jack Atkinson in the Alport goal was left cruelly exposed for each of the goals and had barely touched the ball except for fishing it out of his net four times.

Time and again Irlam were able to thread the ball beyond an incredibly high defensive line to run clear on goal.

Credit where credit is due, Irlam’s finishing was exemplary.

Campbell curled the ball around Jack Atkinson for the first and Icely lobbed the second on the quarter hour with the Reds keeper sufficiently off his line to make up the striker’s mind.

Three minutes later came the third goal and Icely’s lob this time was equally precise and from a lot further out – but once again the Whitchurch defenders had gone AWOL.

Within 60 seconds a deflected effort sailed over Atkinson and Alport looked like they were going to be on the end of a mauling.

That said, it was Tom Russell in the Irlam goal who was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.

He made two saves in quick succession to deny Dan Skelton and Ryan Allcock who both fizzed in goalbound efforts from outside the box, and although Dylan Bath did beat Russell in first half added on time, his shot with the outside of his right boot landed agonisingly wide of the far post.

So, no further damage then after that horror opening 20 minutes but with only pride left to play for, Alport owed their large travelling support a performance after the teams emerged back into the rain.

Russell made a save from Jud Ellis low to his right before Leon Ashman skied a great opportunity as the visitors started brightly.

Russell’s best stop came as he flew across goal to push Ellis’ 25 yarder over the bar and two minutes later Skelton found the side netting when he knows he should have scored.

Stu Dickin got Alport onto the scoreboard with a neat volley at the far post from a corner five minutes past the hour and Atkinson made his only telling contribution to deny Icely with a brave save at the danger man’s feet with 20 minutes remaining.

Matt Burton’s men were so far in the ascendancy an unlikely comeback sometimes looked on the cards, and some superb football ended with Matty Owen just inches away from a second goal which would really have tested Irlam’s resolve.

Danny Lokko’s great composure when through on goal was Alport’s only reply.

The Crewe Alexandra loanee rounded Russell before lashing home with an angled drive and around 10 minutes left on the watch including added on time.

In the last of those minutes substitute Alex Hughes brought a last save of the afternoon from the legs of the outstanding Russell and that was that. Burton handed a debut to Marc Evans and recalled Dickin and Skelton as well as giving a first start to Allcock but he couldn’t prevent his wretched sequence of results from continuing.

The proverbial game of two halves and one that Alport would surely have won but for a kamikaze display before some supporters had even come into the ground.