Winsford United 0, Great Harwood Town 2
WINSFORD's promotion challenge suffered a setback at the Barton Stadium on Saturday against rivals who just could not afford to lose.
Defeat might have ended Great Harwood's threat, but United were not ruthless enough to inflict it.
The visitors went flat out for the victory they needed, while Winsford's slow and over deliberate build-up play often floundered against a well organised and physical defence.
The home side's first threat was on eight minutes when Chris Melia was left unmarked for Kieron Durkan's free-kick but his header went wide of the post.
The Blues thought they had opened their account on 18 minutes when goalkeeper Rob Harris dropped the ball and Dave Chambers hammered it home, but the referee had signalled for a foul to cut the celebrations short.
Winsford's only other real chance of the first half was a shot from Rob Hopley that Harris spilled but lamentably the other Winsford forwards failed to react.
United started the second period
in better fashion and Lee Hughes' cross-cum-shot looked to be heading for the top corner until Harris got a hand to it. On the hour the same player saw his 30-yard effort drift just wide of the post.
Great Harwood took the lead against the run of play three minutes later when Dennis Hill's cross from the left was met with a glancing header that Michael Langley just failed to reach.
The Blues did not give up and began to pile on the pressure but Neil Marsh's 71st minute header was blocked on the line and when Tim Drohan found himself on a one-to-one with Harris the ball stuck in the mud and his shot drifted wide of the target. Their last chance to equalise came in the 77th minute when Drohan's cross was met on the volley by Rick Arnold but the ball skimmed the far post. The visitors wrapped it up on 80 minutes when Yanoub Khan broke clear and took the ball round Langley before side footing home. UNITED: Langley; Robinson (Hurst 81), Chambers, Marsh, Durkan (Drohan 39); Melia (Topping 73),
Quinn, Hughes, Wellstead; Arnold, Hopley.
Att: 98 Star Man: Rob Hopley, tireless Team Rating: 2 Match Rating: 2 Winsford United 5 Daisy Hill 0: Rob Hopley became the first Blues player in 30 years to score four goals in a match, on Wednesday and bagged one of the quickest hattricks ever by a United player.
He shot Winsford into the NWCFL Division One Cup semi-finals against Cheadle.
All five goals came before the break. Hopley and Rick Arnold netted on nine and 30 minutes before Hopley netted three more in the space of eight minutes.
He glanced home a header (34 minutes), rounded the keeper (41) and scored from close range (42). UNITED: Langley; Robinson, Chambers, Marsh, Durkan; Melia (Hurst 69), Quinn, Hughes (Stanton 68), Wellstead; Arnold, Hopley (Fitzpatrick 72).
Att: 104 Star Man: Rob Hopley Next Best: Keiron Durkan Team Rating: 4 Match Rating: 3