HALLMARK SECURITY LEAGUE
FIRST DIVISION NORTH
ATHERTON LR 4 AFC DARWEN 4
This match had everything, plenty of goals, near misses, controversial incidents, and nearly nine minutes of extra time, which had the crowd on tenterhooks, wondering which way the game would swing before the final whistle. Darwen still had many of their first team squad out injured, but Adam Douglas was drafted in to make his first appearance of the season.
Darwen had an opportunity to go in front on seven minutes as a corner was deflected to unmarked Anthony Hodges just inside the area, but his well hit shot was aimed straight at Atherton keeper Ryan Kirkman. However, five minutes later they did take the lead when a pass found Elliot Pond upfield. He still had a lot to do but turned two defenders, entered the box, and hammered the ball past Kirkman.
On the quarter hour, Atherton’s Lewis Coleman tried his luck with a powerful drive from twenty five yards but aimed the ball directly at Jordan Gidley, who grasped it at the second attempt
The Salmoners doubled their lead on eighteen minutes. The ball was won in midfield and fed to Leon Creech who raced through to fire past Kirkman.
Four minutes later, Jordan Gidley’s goal kick was short of the halfway line and intercepted by six foot five striker Henoc Mukendi, who bore down on goal but put the ball wide of the post.
With less than five minutes of the half to go, Jamie Edwards directed a header from a Gidley goal kick into the path of Leon Creech, who raced into the Atherton box and rounded the advancing Kirkman to fire home.
Darwen were looking comfortable with their three goal lead, but just before the break there was an Atherton run down the wing and low cross with Mukendi nipping in to slide the ball past Jordan Gidley and give the home side some hope.
Half Time: Atherton LR 1 AFC Darwen 3
Ten minutes into the restart, and Elliot Pond swivelled in the box with his volley seeming to be heading into the top corner when Ryan Kirkman made a terrific one handed save to push the ball away for a corner.
The visitors appeared to have control of the match when on the hour mark, and out of the blue, a ball was booted upfield for Mukendi to chase. He outmuscled Darwen defenders to stroke the ball home and reduce the goal deficit by one.
Five minutes later, the Atherton striker again chased a ball hoisted upfield. Jordan Gidley bravely came out to dive in front of the ball, and as Mukendi went over, referee George Allison determined the challenge to be a foul and pointed to the penalty spot, much to the disbelief of keeper and defenders. Mukendi scored to level the match.
Atherton were now fully in the contest, and a could have taken the lead if Lewis Coleman had connected better with a cross at the far post.
Although Darwen had lost their impetus, they regained the lead with less than twenty minutes to go when Elliot Pond got his foot behind a powerful shot into the roof of the net, giving Kirkman no chance.
The visitors were now defending as Atherton were throwing bodies forward to get something from the game, and they succeeded with time running out when Nathan Strong found the back of the net in the Darwen box.
Into injury time, Atherton’s Dominic Butler was sent off for his second yellow card, and then it looked like the Atherton keeper would also get his marching orders when he dashed out from his area and threw himself in front of Elliot Pond, who was clear and bearing down on goal. Referee Allison awarded a free kick but only showed Kirkman yellow. There was some delay for treatment and tempers flared on the field. In the aftermath of the situation, Darwen’s Sam Knowles was shown a red card.
Full Time: Atherton LR 4 AFC Darwen 4
REFEREE: George Allison
ASSISTANTS: Abdul Amusa, John Wright
GOALS AND TIMES:
Atherton LR: Mukendi (45, 56, 67, pen.), Strong (86)
AFC Darwen: Pond (12, 69), Creech (18, 41)
OPPONENTS CHOICE AS MAN OF THE MATCH:
Atherton LR: Henoc Mukendi
AFC Darwen: Elliot Pond
YELLOW CARDS: Kirkman, Randall (Atherton LR), Wood, Hodges (AFC Darwen)
RED CARDS: Butler (2 yellows) (Atherton LR), Knowles (AFC Darwen)
Atherton LR (
1 Ryan Kirkman
2 Jordan Grant
3 Daniel Ashburner
4 Dominic Butler
5 Martyn Parkinson (Capt.)
6 Niall Battersby
7 Nathan Randall
8 Matthew Marsh
9 Henoc Mukendi
10 Gary Burnett
11 Lewis Coleman
12 Nathan Strong (replaced Coleman, 73 minutes)
14 Jack Everest (replaced Marsh, 66 minutes)
15 Kallum Jackson (replaced Mukendi, 90+8 minutes)
16 Paul Carroll
1 Jordan Gidley
2 Kieran Wood
4 Matt Farnworth
5 Sam Knowles
6 Kiel Lonsdale (Capt.)
7 Leon Creech
8 Jamie Gibson
9 Elliot Pond
10 Jamie Edwards
11 Nyle Ellis
12 Adam Douglas (replaced Gibson, 62 minutes)
14 Karl Turner
15 Scott Walsh
16 Kyle Preece
17 Jim Brindle