Richard title race is back on after key win

Spencer Bibby in action for Charnock Richard. Photo Ken Chapman
Spencer Bibby in action for Charnock Richard. Photo Ken Chapman

Charnock Richard ensured they remain in the hunt for the title after beating league leaders Fulwood Amateurs 3-0 at Mossie Park on Saturday.

Before kick-off Richard were 14 points behind Fulwood with four games in hand, but they showed their intent to retain the West Lancs League Premier Division with a fine display.

Charnock threatened almost straight from the kick-off as Fulwood conceded an early corner, and keeper Danny Roccia had to dive at the feet of David Fisher when Josh Norgate headed the kick back across goal.

Charnock twice came close to taking the lead in the ninth minute. Spencer Bibby hit the underside of the bar from a narrow angle on the right when played in by Carl Grimshaw, and David Burrows picked up the rebound beyond the far post, only to see his shot hit the outside of the post.

Such was the pressure that the visitors’ defence was under, Ged Smith sliced a clearance only just wide of the post.

Grimshaw gave the villagers the lead in the 19th minute as he nodded in Mark Woods’ diagonal free kick from the left.

It was not all one-way traffic as Ryan Dodds proved to be a tricky player on the left, and one centre gave Pennington a chance on the right of goal, but his effort was well off target.

Woods made Roccia scamper across his goal to turn his fierce free kick around for another corner, and Grimshaw had a free header three minutes before the break, but he missed the target.

It looked as if, despite all Charnock‘s dominance, that they would have to be satisfied with only a one-goal lead at the interval, but in added time, another free kick from Woods after Fisher was fouled saw Grimshaw just get his head to the ball, as Roccia and Smith clashed as they came to clear it.

Fulwood, obviously boosted by a half-time talk, settled down to produce some of the football that has seen them storm to the top of the table, and the home defence had a much stiffer test. Keeper Gavin Bates had to be on his toes to turn a Ged Smith free kick from just outside the area over the bar, and from the resulting corner, Woods headed away a shot destined to find the net. However, by and large, this was the closest that Fulwood came to scoring.

The goal that finally ensured the points were coming Charnock’s way came in the 63rd minute, as Burrows added his 24th goal of the campaign. He tricked his way in on the left, and somehow his shot from an acute angle deceived Roccia and rolled over the line at the back post.

The result means Charnock narrowed the gap on leaders Fulwood to 11 points, and Richard still have four games in hand.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Euxton Villa narrowly lost 1-0 at home to Longridge Town.

Town’s Brad Carsley scored in the 70th minute to give the visitor’s all three points. The result saw Town leapfrog Villa into fourth spot in the table.

This weekend Villa take on Charnock Richard in the Richardson Cup.