Hurst Green slip in title race

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Hurst Green slipped up in the West Lancashire League Second Division title race as they squandered a three-goal lead, not for the first time this season.

Green were completely dominant for the first 40 minutes, in what was possibly their best start to a game this season.

They took a deserved early lead through Danny Walker, and shots continued to fly in at the Walney goal from all angles, as first Hayes and then Bolton had efforts thwarted.

Walney’s only real chance came following a corner, which was nodded down, with Green desperately hacking the ball to safety.

Hurst Green doubled their lead midway through the first half as they worked the ball down the right through Cookson and Brierley and found Howarth, who smashed in a piledriver from 25 yards.

Not to be outdone, Cookson extended Green’s lead with a shot into the top corner from just outside the box to make it 3-0.

The away side were first to every tackle, retaining possession and creating opportunities aplenty, with any Walney threat snuffed out by Green’s back four, with Chester redundant in goal.

The game changed, however, just before half-time as Walney pulled a goal back as Jordan Brough headed in a floated corner, the striker’s first chance of the afternoon.

Just after the interval, a Cookson volley was blocked on the line by a Walney arm and the full back received his marching orders.

However, momentum seemed to swing back to the home side as Hayes saw his spot kick saved, with Cookson unable to force in the rebound.

The miss revitalised Walney, who pulled back another goal as a long ball was nodded down and Brough smashed in the loose ball.

Green looked drained of confidence and their attacking play became more rushed, Walney staying in the game with with several excellent blocks and tackles.

With the game finely balanced, Walney grabbed the equaliser – Brough scoring a heavily-deflected free kick which completely wrong-footed Chester.

With the point to hang onto, Walney sat back and Green peppered their area with crosses and long balls, but to no avail.

Aspinwall ensured Green left with something as his last-gasp tackle following a breakway snuffed out the hosts.

If Hurst Green don’t get promotion, they will definitely look at games like this where three points should have been secured and not thrown away.

This tendency seriously needs to be overcome or it will be a season of serious under-achievement.