Shelley 1 Avro 3
By Malcolm Lumb
In form Avro FC defeat their hosts to register four consecutive victories after an impressive display at the Stafflex Arena.
Report courtesy Olly Thompson (Non-League Journalism)
Much anticipation surrounded the game as this is the first time both sides have met as last season both were competing in different leagues. With the Lancashire side Avro topping the form table and the West Yorkshire side Shelley containing 2nd top scorer Craig Billington, it was difficult to predict which way the game would swing.
Five minutes into the game and Shelley had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Tom Cassidy as Jordan Smith was brought down in the visiting sides penalty area in what had looked like a foul.
Following on from this, both sides were locked in a midfield battle with Avro’s top scorer Joe Bevan looking dangerous on the right hand side with his pace and consequently causing his marker, Israel Johnson to be alert through-out.
On the 20th minute Jo Bevan had lost his marker only to be brought down in the box by Johnson to which the referee had signaled a penalty. Former FC United of Manchester player Michael Norton stepped up and converted the penalty to push the visitors in the lead.
Avro continued to apply pressure and began to probe a rather resilient Shelley defensive line. After some superb link up play by Avro which saw Bevan putting through Norton on goal only to be thwarted by an equally superb double save by home side goalkeeper Paul Day. The ball was not cleared however and fell to visiting striker Jake Pollard who slotted it past the goalkeeper to double the Lancashire’s team lead.
Avro continued their relentless attack and nearly went further into the lead after Pollard had fired inches wide after finding the ball on the edge of the box. Former Accrington Stanley player Joseph Rathbone also had an ambitious effort only to be prevented by the goalkeeper Day.
On the hour mark, Avro kept pursuing only to be again prevented by the goalkeeper after a freekick taken by Pollard had pulled out a brilliant save by Day who had to be at full stretch to tip the ball around his far post.
Shelley bounced back and halved the deficit as club top scorer Craig Billington produced a well driven effort which sailed past visiting goalkeeper Jordan Latham. Going into the final stages of the game, the next goal would prove decisive to the outcome of this game.
Craig Billington has scored 17 times in all competitions and is the club’s top scorer.
Pollard tried again to register his second goal of the match after his attempt was looking to go in the top corner of the Shelley goal. Day again was there and at full stretch to prevent that all important next goal from going in.
Misery struck for the home side as Shelley’s midfielder Daniel Keane was send off after receiving a second yellow card for dissent. Immediately after Avro substitute found himself one on one with the goalkeeper after being put through by Norton only to strike wide.
Shelley’s goalkeeper Day was beaten in the final minutes of the match after striker Kane Wallwork had placed the ball into the back of the net and now has scored in three consecutive games as well as securing all three points for the visiting team as they travel back to Lancashire.
Avro are now unbeaten in 7 games in all competitions.
Shelley Manager Ash Berry said after the game “I thought for the first 15 minutes we were the better team, then for 30 minutes they were the better team and come in 2 nil up.”
“Second half.. we have gotten ourselves back into the game.” After the red card Berry commented “We were just hanging on in the end as we were down to 10 men.
“It has been a tough day, the lads have given a superb effort second half…I think there is a lot of spirit and a lot of desire and I think we have played quite well .”
Speaking about his goalkeeper Berry commented “I agree with that (being MOTM) I think he has made four or five absolute top draw saves.”