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Hall's well that ends well for Silsden
Alsager Town 1 Silsden 2
The Cobbydalers recovered from conceding the first goal of the season in the North West Counties League to make a fine start to the campaign.
Goals from Ben Crabtree and Tom Sowerbutts put Silsden in front but the result was in doubt until the dying seconds, when the Bullets were awarded a penalty.
All the hard work put in by the Yorkshire outfit was rewarded when Ed Hall saved Cameron Mitchell’s penalty.
Silsden were indebted to Hall in the opening half but the second half was a different story, with the home defence being opened up on several occasions.
With July barely over, boss Andy Geary’s resources were stretched with players on holiday or playing cricket. He started the match with nine players under the age of 21.
With centre back Stephen Throup unavailable, Geary called in the experienced Ben Lamb to partner Anthony Young at the heart of the defence. Lamb is off to the States to take up a coaching role in a week’s time.
Although pre-season had gone well, Silsden were rocked when Leigh Skellern turned Kristian Hargreaves and Lamb after one minute and 12 seconds to fire the Bullets into the lead.
Silsden didn’t panic and soon equalised. Dale Feather’s corner was only partially cleared and Crabtree fired in on ten minutes.
Silsden were fortunate when Cameron Mitchell’s 30-yard volley rebounded off the bar and Hall was forced to make saves from James Hampson and Angelo Errico after possession had been surrendered.
Errico was causing most of the problems and his through-ball split the Cobbydalers defence before Hampson volleyed wide of the empty goal.
Silsden were much more dominant in the second half.
Surprisingly the Bullets manager moved Errico to the left where he was ineffective against Declan Consoli, who made a fine debut.
The Cobbydalers created several chances. Feather released Nicky McNally, who whipped over a low cross, which George Brookes could only parry.
Will Storrie headed goalwards but his effort was headed off the line. Andrew Hill then hit a speculative 35-yard volley which rebounded off the Alsager keeper’s shins.
McNulty shot wide from a narrow angle before Silsden took the lead after 71 minutes. Storrie crossed low into the Bullets box and Sowerbutts, who two minutes earlier had replaced Feather, converted with a low drive after sprinting from the halfway line.
Silsden’s youngsters grew in confidence but there was almost a twist in the tail in stoppage time.
Skellern got through and Hall spread himself to close down the space. There was a collision and the official pointed to the spot.
Hall was cautioned but held his nerve to make a magnificent save from Mitchell’s spot-kick to seal the points.
Mitchell lost his composure and a rash tackle on Consoli led to his dismissal.
Geary was delighted with the result but he was also careful not to get carried away.
“We played some neat football to come back from the early setback but Alsager were still able to create too many chances for my liking,” he said.
“We need everyone to think defensively when we lose possession. However, there were many positives to take home.”
SILSDEN: Hall, Consoli, Hargreaves, Young, Lamb, Hill, Feather (Sowerbutts 69), Crabtree, Storrie, McNally (Quintas 82), McNulty.
* The Cobbydalers visit Ashton Athletic on Saturday. They also host neighbours Colne next Wednesday.
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