Garstang 3 Cleator Moor Celtic 3: Riversiders pass a test of character

Garstang FC manager Lee Baker
Garstang FC manager Lee Baker

Garstang extended their unbeaten run to seven games with a 3-3 draw against Cleator Moor Celtic on Saturday.

In the cold light of day, it should have been a win for the home side but, having trailed by two goals twice and then equalised in the last seconds, it felt to many like a point won.

The Riversiders dominated early on as the visitors struggled to cope with some of their play.

Billy McKenna saw a lot of the ball down the right and put some excellent crosses into the box without finding someone to finish it off.

Jonny Hothersall, Jake Salisbury and Ric Coar were all busy and some of the link-up play was excellent but, against the run of play, a quick counter-attack saw Cameron Ross adjudged to have fouled a visiting player inside the area.

Tom Mahone stepped up and fired the penalty just past Will Kitchen to give the visitors a 26th minute lead.

Soon afterwards, the lead was extended further when a cross from the right saw the ball knocked back into the centre of the goal and turned in by Leigh Dunn.

Garstang never allowed their heads to go down as they looked for the goal which would bring them back into the game.

Coar had an excellent effort well saved, as did Hothersall, but the deficit was halved when the former finished from close range following a Dan Birch cross.

The second half started at a frenetic pace as the Riversiders sought an equaliser.

Everyone thought it had arrived when Birch hit a tremendous low shot towards the far corner, only to see it hit the inside of the post and roll across the line into the keeper’s arms.

Further opportunities came and went and, once again, the Riverside crowd had a highly entertaining game to watch.

However, Garstang then switched off and allowed Dunn some space on the edge of the box, where his quick snap shot beat Kitchen and restored Cleator Moor’s two-goal cushion.

The final 20 minutes became an old-fashioned game of attack and defence as Garstang threw the kitchen sink at the visitors.

McKenna sent in a great cross and Birch’s back post header flashed wide before Garstang’s endeavour was rewarded.

Again, McKenna got down the left and put in a superb cross which was met by Birch who, despite being one of the smallest players on the pitch, outjumped his marker to bury a fantastic header.

Aside from one excellent save, Kitchen was becoming a spectator as Garstang laid siege to the Cleator goal.

The goals, substitutions and timewasting meant almost seven minutes were added and, in the last of those, Garstang were awarded a free-kick 30 yards from goal.

It would appear some comment was made and brought to the attention of the referee by his assistant.

The visitors mistook the assistant’s flag as offside, and when the referee reconfirmed the free-kick, Cleator started to lose their composure and saw one player sent off.

When order was eventually restored, the free-kick was chipped into the box and, following a mad scramble, the ball fell to Shaun Sailor who fired home the equaliser.