LEEK TOWN 3-1 SKELMERSDALE UNITED
United ended their 2022-23 NPL campaign with a defeat at 2nd placed Leek Town, Richard Brodies men can hold their heads high after giving the opposition a real run for their money.
Skem attacked from the very first minute and a pacy run from winger Morris his shot from the edge of the box was finely tipped wide by keeper Danny Roberts, from the resulting corner Joe Herbert managed to head goalbound with big defender Ollie Harrison slicing into his own net to give United the perfect start.
The lead lasted barely 2 minutes as a Leek corner from the left was glanced home by Harrison to atone for his early mistake. It was end to end stuff Morris again brought the best out of Roberts while Ste Milne saw his terrific 30 yd drive go just over.
Leek made in roads with a fine last gasp challenge from Lees denying Opoku as looked set to score, Tom Freeman did likewise to deny Trickett-Smith as the home side looked to gain the advantage. The home side took the lead just before the break and it was another set piece, Semi Wara heading home from a corner.
Leek knew they had to win to gain 2nd spot and came out all guns blazing, only staunch defending from Lees & Herbert with a couple of good saves from Torrence kept them at bay but they could do nothing as leading marksman Tim Grice smashed home an unstoppable volley from 12 yards that put the Staffordshire side firmly in control. Opoku should have made it 4 but blazed over when in a good position. Grice was again denied by Torrance as Leek put Skem firmly on the back foot.
United rallied with the introduction of O’Brien. Djalo & Mcloughlin started pulling strings in the middle of the park, the latter setting up Milne who couldn’t find the finishing touch and Djalo hit wide after being teed up by Gallagher.
Full back Harry Hagen got into the action, a Morris cross found the youngster in acres of space at the back post but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and another chance went begging.
In the final few minutes Morris brought out a fine one handed save from Roberts & O’Brien pulled a half chance wide as Skem ended the stronger.
Right at the death Reeves looked to be in for a 4th for the home side but his shot just evaded the crossbar, it would have been unjust, Leek had been far the better team on the day but Skem had given a very good account of themselves.
Richard Brodie said after the game, “we can be proud of our performance today, there were many positives but for my money we were up against the best team in this division, they are a big powerful side with plenty of experience at this level but we made them work very hard for their 3 points”.
It has been a very satisfactory season for “the blues”, the upheaval of playing at Burscough, the loss of manager McNally early season and Brodie taking some time to get a new squad assembled, they finish the season a very respectable 11th, they can also look back on 11 victories on the road as a sign of promising things to come. They also end the season without a draw, which has created a bit of history as no other club has gone a whole season in the Northern Premier League since its creation in 1968 without a share of the spoils.
SKELMERSDALE UNITED: Torrence Hagan Freeman Jackson Herbert Lees Morris Djalo Milne McLaughlin Prescott. SUBS: Grayson Gallagher O’Brien – unused Brodie, Osi-Efa
LEEK TOWN: Roberts Billington Keenan Grocott Harrison Wara Davidson Reeves Grice Trickett-Smith Opoku; SUBS: Carr Walters Stevenson Baker Weston