Report by David Ainsworth


AFC Darwen Reserves 2-1 Wardle

AFC Darwen Reserves narrowed the gap to the teams above them when they defeated fellow strugglers 2-1 at the Anchor Ground. Despite being well below their best they fully deserved to beat Wardle but they almost paid for missing a whole host of chances and were indebted to goalkeeper Josh Cosgrove who saved a penalty in the 96th minute.

Darwen started well and should have been in front in the first minute when Norton Johnston was played in but his weak shot was easily saved by the post. Wardle had a chance in the fourth minute but Lewis Altimas’s effort went just wide of the post. Darwen went ahead in the tenth minute after a short spell of Darwen pressure, the ball eventually fell to Luke Williams who smashed the ball home. Another chance fell to the home side shortly the goal but the effort was blazed over the bar. Almost immediately Wardle had a chance but this to sailed over the bar. Darwen were in the ascendancy but were unable to create any clear cut chances, but the next good effort fell to the visitors when Josh Cosgrove palmed away a Lewis Altimas effort. The next good chance fell to Darwen in the thirty fifth minute but Lewis Williams effort was saved by the visitor’s keeper. Darwen had a scare three minutes later when a slip in the Darwen defence let the visitors through but with a free shot the effort went well over the bar. The visitors then equalised when a free kick found the unmarked Lewis Altimas who headed home. The final effort of the half fell to the visitors but as with many others in the half from both sides it sailed over the bar, this left the sides equal at 1-1 at half time.

The second continued much in the same vein with much of the play being scrappy with neither side being able to create any meaningful chances. Two efforts from Darwen just after the hour mark went over the bar and well wide. The nearest either side came to a goal came in the seventy first minute when a Wardle effort was scrambled off the line with Darwen keeper Josh Cosgrove lying injured in the area. Darwen then started to put more pressure on the visitors defence, firstly another effort went well wide before the Wardle keeper palmed away an on target effort. Darwen then retrieved the ball and another effort was blocked by the post when the ball should have been squared to an unmarked Darwen player in the penalty area. Eventually all the Darwen pressure paid dividends when Norton Johnston was on hand to fire home in the seventy seventh minute. Darwen continued to press and the visitors keeper was on hand to make another good save. The play switched to the other end and Josh Cosgrove had to pull off a smart save to keep Darwen ahead. Darwen should have extended their lead in the eighty seventh minute when a slick passing move opened up the Wardle defence but again the effort went over the bar. The visitors keeper the produced another good save as he palmed another effort over the bar. Darwen then almost paid the price for all the missed chances when Wardle were awarded a penalty in the ninety sixth minute, but Josh Cosgrove pulled off a great save to seal the points for the home side.