Prescot Cables took on a tough Radcliffe side on Saturday looking to take a valuable three points off another promotion-chasing club.
Despite their side going out of the Integro League Cup in midweek, Cables fans travelled in good numbers and high spirits, confident of seeing the Pesky Bulls get a good result in North Manchester.
Prior to the match there was another impeccably observed minutes silence to remember the Leicester City helicopter crash victims.
Once the game was underway, Cables found themselves kicking up the hill and against a strong breeze, conditions that saw the home side try and exploit the long ball over the top at every opportunity. A long-range effort from Radcliffe striker Ben Wharton in the fifth minute just cleared Ben Barnes’ crossbar.
Cables were starting to get the ball down and create some lovely passing moves, particularly down the right-hand side where Reece Fishwick was linking up well with Valter Fernandes. The Portuguese right back tested the keeper with a looping shot following a good interchange of passes with Josh Klein-Davies.
Radcliffe thought they had a case for a penalty in the 20th minute when Louis Coyne tangled with a Radcliffe forward. However, it was Coyne who was given the benefit of the doubt by the referee and play was waved on. Cables had a more concrete case for a penalty a few minutes later when Chris Almond appeared to have been hacked down in the area, again however the referee was not moved by the appeals.
Cables finished the half strongly and wasted three good opportunities to score in as many minutes. First, Klein-Davies hit the post with a lovely shot with the out side of his boot, Chris Almond was unable to convert the rebound. Almond missed another chance a minute later when he was unable to convert a low cross from Fishwick from the right. James McCulloch then beat his man and won a good header in the Radcliffe box, with the ball going across the keeper there was nobody in a red shirt to prod the ball home.
The failure to convert these chances would come back to haunt Cables when Radcliffe scored right on the stroke of half time to take the lead. The ball was played in from the right-hand side and Michael Fowler was able to scramble the ball past Ben Barnes.
The second half was Cables’ opportunity to make good use of both the slope and the weather as they looked to get back into the game quickly.
Their chance came in the 52nd minute when Michael Monaghan was brought down in the penalty box by Radcliffe goalkeeper Ollie Martin. Chris Almond then did what he does so well, and calmly slotted the penalty into the bottom corner of the Radcliffe goal.
Cables were then rewarded for their good football when they took the lead on 59 minutes, Chris Almond again the scorer. Valter Fernandes drove into midfield and won two good tackles before somehow finding himself with the ball on the right wing. With time to look up and pick out a red shirt, Almond met his cross with a looping header which was going in from the moment it left the Cables man’s head. At this point, Cables were more than good value for their lead.
Radcliffe however are a physical, battling side and were determined to get back into the game and could have been level in the 69th minute when a driven free kick into the Cables box was deflected narrowly wide. This should have been the wake-up call that Cables needed, it wasn’t, and the home side were level on 78 minutes when Fowler headed in his second of the game.
The home side were now the dominant team and took the lead again in the 86th minute. Awarded a free kick in the Cables half, Radcliffe took it quickly and could drive forward towards Cables area with seemingly no pressure and everyone in a red shirt stood still. Cables defence were flat footed as the ball was played in behind them and then crossed in to allow Fowler to complete his hattrick.
Any hopes Cables had of getting an equaliser were effectively dashed immediately when Louis Coyne was shown a straight red card for an altercation with a Radcliffe player following their celebrations for the third goal.
The final whistle saw Radcliffe celebrating as they moved above Cables in the league table. The result leaves Cables outside the play-off places.