Andy Payton took a depleted Garstang squad to AFC Liverpool to face one of the pre-season favourites for promotion in the North West Counties Football League – Division One North on Wednesday night.
Mason and Barrett made their first starts of the season replacing the unavailable Jack Swindlehurst and the injured Ric Coar respectively.
On a superb playing surface which was tested by monsoon weather for half the match, the home side started the game brightly and were much the better side with two pacey players causing the Garstang defensive line all sorts of problems.
This pressure was converted into two early goals, both the result of some sloppy Garstang defending.
The first goal saw a cross from the left go straight across the face of the Garstang goal and was turned in at the back post by Croasdale and the second followed soon after when a couple of tackles were missed and Lyons was able to shoot past the advancing Kitchen.
Despite these early setbacks, Garstang dusted themselves down and started to press higher up the pitch, making it harder for the home side to play out from the back.
Graham and Mason in the centre of the park started to win some tackles and the game became a much more even contest.
Coar and Barrett were working well as an attacking pair and Garstang started to create some opportunities.
The excellent Mason almost halved the deficit with a 25-yard volley following a half clearance but his stinging shot was hit straight at the keeper.
At the other end Kitchen made a couple of fine saves in appalling weather conditions to keep the score at 2-0 whilst Ross and Hancox were starting to get to grips with their forward opponents.
The second half saw Garstang in the ascendancy and they were much the better team.
The home keeper made a number of good saves while the Riversiders had a number of efforts just go wide of the post with Alan Coar in particular looking very dangerous.
Garstang got back into the game following good work by Ross on the left and the ball eventually found Barrett at the back post and was turned in to halve the deficit.
Midway through the half Ross was on the wrong end of a poor challenge resulting in a yellow card for the offending Liverpool player and was unable to continue beyond a further five minutes as Melling was moved into the centre half position.
Despite this set back the Riversiders continued to press for the equaliser and were very unlucky when a couple of efforts flew the wrong side of the goal. Liverpool were reduced to the odd speculative effort and as the half progressed the home side used every opportunity to run the clock down.
As the game approached full time Tom Graham had a great effort well saved from close range and Alan Coar had an effort deflected just wide.
It was not to be Garstang’s night and the game ended 2-1 to AFC Liverpool.