Eccleshall's Pershall Park home is situated in the village of Pershall approximately a mile to the North-West of Eccleshall. The club has two car parks, one immediately on the left as you turn into the club off the main through road, the other is a little further along Smithy Lane just past the ground. Access to the ground is available from bot car parks. The majority of the facilities and features are on the Smithy Lane side of the ground and focussed around the main car park end.
Prior to kick off Maine Road sat in 9th spot and Eccleshall 14th. The November meeting in Manchester saw the home side edge the game 1-0 through a first half goal from Francesco Frangillo, despite a red card for striker Yousif Yousif. Thanks to the excellent North West Counties website, I can see that there have been 7 previous league meetings between the clubs. Eccleshall hold sway just about, with four wins to Maine road's three. However, the Manchester club have managed 19 goals compared to Eccleshall's 10.
In recent weeks neither team has been in sparkling form. Eccleshall have taken 5 points from the last 18 available, Maine Road have managed just one more in the same period. Eccleshall's main problem this season appears to be a lack of goals, having scored just 19 in 18 games. They do, however, seem to have a much better defensive record, conceding an average of one per game, a record bettered only by second-placed Wythenshawe Amateurs, and 15 fewer than Maine Road (who, admittedly, have played two more games).
Both sides started the game in a lively manner. Whilst neither keeper was tested, there was plenty of enterprising play on show that seemed to please both benches. As the game progressed, it is fair to say that the visitors began to take some control of possession but they still hadn't worried Woolrich and Eccleshall showed that they were also capable of causing some problems for the Maine Road defence.
We were 24 minutes into the game before we witnessed the first shot in anger from either team. It came from Maine Road's Josh Clegg and, whilst it did not unduly trouble Woolrich, it proved to be an omen of what was to come five minutes later. That was when Shaquille Lewis pressured the Eccleshall defence into a mistake, robbed them of the ball and drove towards the box. As the keeper advanced, Lewys laid the ball off to Clegg, who was left with the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net for 0-1, much to the consternation of the home coach, who was raging at the way his team had conceded.
He needn't have been too concerned though. Five minutes after going behind Eccy were level. A free-kick played into the box was only half-cleared, not once, but twice. On the second attempt the ball fell to the feet of Ryan Pickup who drove it low to Daniel Green's right-hand side, hitting the inside of the post before nestling in the net. 1-1.
HT Eccleshall 1 Maine Road 1. Clear cut chances at a premium but an entertaining watch nevertheless. Two competitive sides who were both looking to win the game.
Strangely, bearing in mind that we were only 15 minute sinto the half, Lewys asked the assitant referee how long was left at this point. Surely not planning on shutting up shop with 30 minutes on the clock? Well, no In fact, the visitors now looked to be completely in charge. Five minutes after going back in fron they had the ball in the net again through Yousif. However, this time the assistant's flag had already been raised for what appeared to be a very tight offiside decision.
It felt like it was only a matter of time before Mine Road sealed the win but then, with 16 minutes remaining, Eccleshall drew level again, comepletely out of the blue. There didn't seem too much danger as the progressed up the right. The ball was hit long and deep toards the far post where Chris Boast had managed to get a march on his defender. He got a toe to the ball which cannoned back off the post, only for the striker to react quickest, stabbing the ball over the line. 2-2. Maine Road immediately went on the attack, looking to get themselves back in front again. Five minutes later, this proved to be their downfall when an attack broke down and Ryan Campbell-Gordon came away with the ball deep in his own half. He drove up the left flank, cut infield and switched play. teh ball was then fed into the run of Mitchell Glover who finished neatly low to Green's right. 3-2.
There was still over 10 minutes to go and most of the 78 present would not have bet against another goal at either end. However, despite Maine Road throwing as much as they could at Eccleshall, the home side rode it out and could even have got another goal on the break themselves.
FT Eccleshall 3 Maine Road 2. When the visitors took the lead in the second half I doubt even many Eccleshall supporters would have put money on this result, especially as the league's lowest scorers needed to score three for only the second time this season in the league. However, they did it and claimed a very important three points. No doubt Maine Road are still trying to work out how they managed to leave without anything. From a neutral's point of view, it was a very entertaining game and well worth the 200 mile round trip to watch.
Both sides are back in action on Saturday if you want to catch them. Eccleshall make the trip North to The Heath where they take on Cheadle Heath Nomads, currently two places below them in the league. Maine road are back home at Brantigham Road where second from bottom Foley Meir are the visitors.
Eccleshall: Woolrich, Darlington, Dunn, Feeney, Claise, Stanton, Glover, Flattley(c), Boast, Pickup, Green-Birch. Subs: Benton, Malbon, Campbell-Gordon, Lewis, Woodroffe
Maine Road: Green, Pogson, Suleiman, Eislet(c), Edwards, Roe, Yousif, Clegg, Lewys, Keyworth, Addow. Subs: Mooney, Barry, Rimmer, Perry
Ground Number: 340