Birkby grabs Villa share of derby honours

Danny Hutton heads clear an Euxton Villa cross
Danny Hutton heads clear an Euxton Villa cross
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A stoppage-time strike from Dan Birkby denied Charnock Richard all three points in their Premier Division derby against Euxton Villa.

Villa had taken the lead as Ian Billington returned to Mossie Park to haunt his former side heading past Gavin Bates.

Charnock hit back through Mike Fletcher and minutes later they took the lead as Liam Hayton looped a header over Shaun Gibbs.

As the game entered its final minutes, up stepped Birkby who found space in the area to lash home into the corner.

A large crowd of more than 150 turned up at a blustery Mossie Park and they were treated to a fiercely fought encounter.

Villa started well, dominating the early stages and showing glimpses of real quality on the ball.

Byron Andrew struck a free-kick wide early on but, in truth both Gavin Bates and Gibbs, were largely untested during the 90 minutes.

Carl Grimshaw saw two efforts blocked by the impressive Rick Wood.

After 16 minutes, Villa took the lead when right-back Danny Hutton advanced forward and curled a ball into the penalty area where the unmarked Billington headed from 12 yards into the top corner.

In response, Grimshaw headed wide and Gibbs needed to collect a Hayton header.

Charnock had a glorious chance to equalise after 20 minutes, but Gibbs blocked a Burrows effort.

The loose ball fell to Bibby but instead of shooting, the tricky winger held on to the ball, instead laying off to Grimshaw, and by the time the effort went goalbound, Gibbs had regained his bearings to save well.

Euxton continued to press, with Billington seeing an effort blocked and then another comfortably saved by Bates.

The evergreen Andy Roberts was introduced in the second half in place of Bibby.

Despite a strong wind behind them, Charnock failed to take advantage of any possession in the final third.

As the pressure increased in the game, players came together a number of times.

Grimshaw appeared to strike Ryan Thompson in the head as they challenged for the ball but it was out of the referee’s sight.

Andrew and Grimshaw then entered the referees notebook for an altercation minutes later.

With just nine minutes remaining and plenty of pressure in the final third Charnock found an equaliser.

Roberts squared the ball to Fletcher and he fired a shot past a helpless Gibbs.

Two minutes later, Charnock took the lead.

Fletcher sent a ball high into the area and Hayton rose above everybody to loop a header over the back-pedalling Gibbs.

Charnock could have put the game to bed but Burrows missed an open net from three yards.

Then Euxton’s Sam Bolton failed to hit the target from a cross after Bates misjudged his collection of the ball.

With one minute left, a ball was whipped into the area and it fell at the feet of Birkby, who controlled the ball on the right of the six-yard area and then fired a ball into the bottom corner across Bates to seal a deserved point.

Charnock Richard: Bates, Dashti, Dickinson (Nolan 79), Gibson, Hayton, Fletcher, Bibby (Andy Roberts 45),Fisher (Bennett 76),Grimshaw,Burrows,Sanderson. Subs not used: Hogg,O’Farrell

Euxton Villa: Gibbs, Hutton (Coley 85), Bolton, Wood, Thompson, Billington, Wilson, Morris, Andrew (Davies 90), Marland (Horner 82), Birkby.

Subs not used: Heald, McKenna