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Fab five for Skem in Cup encounter

Fab five for Skem in Cup encounter

by Simon Driscoll (August 2021)

Irlam 1 Skelmersdale United 5

IT was a stunning away win for United in the Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round as they stormed to a 5-1 victory over Irlam.

Manager Paul McNally made two changes from Tuesday’s win at Charnock Richard with Mikey Howard promoted from the bench in place of Danny Mitchley, who had a slight knock, while Elliot Morris replaced Freddie Potter, who returned to parent club City of Liverpool.

A traditionally rapid start from United on the road saw Tom Croughan hitting over the bar in the opening minute before Mikey Howard’s low cross drew a save from Irlam ‘keeper Lee White.

White was called into action again with an acrobatic stop from Howard’s angled effort with both Croughan and Baba Conteh heading past the post from crosses. The pressure paid off on 17 minutes as a through pass from Kenny Strickland found the run of Howard who advanced on goal and tucked the ball past White for 1-0.

Callum Nicholas swept a curling free-kick over the bar before Max Bardsley-Rowe forced a strong stop from Ben Barnes with Mike Grogan blocking a rebounded effort from Jordan Icely.

Despite Irlam’s pressure on their goal it was Skem who struck next, Howard doubling the lead on 42 minutes with a penalty for 2-0 after Conteh had been upended by Karl Cassell.

The second half saw United’s threat continue, a clever interception and run from Howard seeing him curl an effort around the far post before Matty Hamilton and Croughan forced low saves from White.

Irlam suffered a blow on 52 minutes as just over a minute after coming on, Connor Martin was sent off after a clash with Conteh and their woes increased further when Croughan swept a shot into the bottom corner for a 3-0 lead on 56 minutes.

The hosts defied their man disadvantage to threaten the score with Bardsley-Rowe’s powerful shot drawing a low stop from Barnes.

United resumed their pressure with an advantage played after Howard was felled, seeing Hamilton pick out the run of substitute Eliot Morris who forced a save from White.

United’s spot in the next round was secured with five minutes remaining, Howard and Morris combined to find substitute Richard Brodie, who rifled the ball past the diving White for a 4-0 lead.

The goals continued into the final minutes with a sweeping effort from Morris taking a deflection to send it past White for 5-0 before United’s hopes of a clean sheet were dashed by Nicholas’s lofted shot which flew past Barnes in the final seconds to give the hosts a consolation.

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