Stafford Rangers 1-4 Skelmersdale United
Emirates FA cup 4th Qual, Sat 24th October
Skelmersdale United created history on Saturday afternoon as they swept aside Stafford Rangers in the Emirates FA Cup 4th Qualifier to reach the First Round proper for the first time since 1971.
Stafford are two divisions higher than United but you would not tell from the performance of the dominant “blues”.
As early as the 9th minute Emini Adegbenro put United ahead as he broke through the home sides defence to slot home. It was a great start for the 10 travelling fans who were allowed in the game.
Both sides created chances but the best Stafford could muster was ably dealt with by Ben Barnes in the United goal and at half time United held a slender but well-deserved lead.
As expected, Stafford came out with more purpose at the start of the second period but United marshalled at the back by Danny Murphy held firm.
United put themselves further in front as a Lloyd Ellams stooping header on 65 minutes looked to have put the game to bed but Rangers came back and produced their best football of the afternoon, as United sat back and soaked up the pressure, as scramble in the goalmouth allowed Joe Cuff to pull one back on 78 minutes.
United are made of sterner stuff these days and rather than demoralise Skem, they went on the attack, Danny Mitchley and substitute Alex Davies both going close to adding to United’s tally.
In the dying minutes Paul McNally made an inspirational substitution as he brought on the highly experience Richard Brodie, and within a minute a run from the big man saw him upended in the box, the referee had no hesitation and pointed to the spot. Adegbenro coolly slotted home for 3-1.
As the Home fans left the ground in droves United’s Lloyd Ellams capped a brilliant individual performance with the goal of the game as he charged through the defence and smashed a 20-yard rocket that left the keeper and Stafford Rangers in no mans land, United had completed the 4-1 demolition.
Ben Barnes was man of the Match for United and the big keeper has produced some wonderful displays in this Cup run, as one young supporter commented after the game “Only Ben Barnes can save 2020”.
United go into the hat on Monday nights FA Cup draw, shown live on the BBC and BT Sports, they will be up against previous winners Wigan Athletic, Blackpool and Bolton but the tie everyone wants is Sunderland.
As fate happens United will be Ball Number 50 in the televised draw and United will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of that Famous win in the Amateur Cup.
The names of Turner, Bennett, Windsor, Swift and Dicken will live long in the memory of those of a certain age but now United have new names that will go down in History, that of Barnes, Griffiths, Grimshaw, Ellams and Adegbenro and not forgetting the man who has overseen it all, Manager Paul McNally.