In a keenly anticipated clash Hurst Green entertained table toppers Fulwood Amateurs knowing that a win was crucial if they were to keep pace with the title chasing teams around them.
The villagers home games have been free flowing goal laden affairs this season with only Turton leaving Smithy Row with any points at all.
Manager Graeme Seedall again rang the changes bringing back the returning Haworth and playing promising youngsterTom Jackson on the left hand side of midfield. Byrne, Wilkinson, Cookson and Nolan were on the bench.
A brisk wind affected the early play with neither side having any clear chances. The home side couldn’t get their passing game going as the well drilled visitors closed down quickly in midfield and were in control at the back.
With neither side having a sniff of a chance the deadlock was broken in superb style on 30 minutes as an accurate through ball was superbly placed past Bee by the Fulwood marksman Newsham. The Green huffed and puffed but nothing came their way until Sargeson’s clever chip got Coar through but the visitors keeper spread himself well to gather.
The second half exploded into life as within seconds of the restart slack defensive play by the home side saw a superb finish from the edge of the box fly past Bee for Fulwoods second.
Almost immediately the villagers were back in it as Stead headed home via a post from a right wing cross to make it 1-2. The home crowd expected the usual onslaught but it never came as Fulwood regained control winning lots of ball in midfield. Midway through the half, sloppy midfield play by the home side saw them lose possession 30 yards out and they were punished with another clinical finish.
Seedall replaced Jackson and Hayes with Wilkinson and Walker and Nolan came on for Stead. Again the Green dusted themselves down and came back with Brierley a constant menace as usual down the right hand side he unleashed a 15-yard cross shot that arrowed into the top corner to make it 2-3.
However, again the home team struggled to get any controlled possession and two lightning breakaways almost brought further joy for the visitors until on 80 minutes a clinical finish seemed to put paid to proceedings 2-4.
From an injury time cross, again from the right, Coar headed home imperiously to make the full-time score 3-4. It was a frustrating day for the home fans in a good crowd on a bitterly cold day as Fulwood never allowed the Green to play their normal freeflowing football and it was easy to see why they have a good defensive record.
They took their chances at crucial times punishing the villagers midfield aberrations with lethal precision.
This is the Smithy Row side’s second season in this division and they are learning what it takes to compete at an advanced level. However, with all the top four sides out of the way a good finish should still be on the cards.