Team: 1. O’Boyle 2. Birtles(c) (Sub Westwood) (Sub Stephenson) 3. Bancroft 4. Wager 5. Esdaille 6. Oldham 7. Bellamy 8. Finnigan 9. Humphries 10. McDonald 11. McKenzie (Sub Bryan)
Subs not used: Alderson & Socha
Report by Jay Taylor
Bacup & Rossendale Borough played out a hard fought goalless draw against a tough Ashton Athletic to stop the rot.
BARB handed debuts to Omar McKenzie and Nathan McDonald as well as promoting Nathan Finnigan back into the starting eleven.
It was a cold and quiet start to the game and the first shot came in the eleventh minute as Adrian Bellamy dragged his half chance just wide.
Bacup then had to change things as captain Shane Birtles took a heavy knock to the ankle resulting in him struggling to walk and being replaced by Ellis Westwood. We all hope it is not as serious as first feared.
When Ashton did eventually break the Bacup defensive line the goalkeeper was on hand to keep it out. It was going to be one of them nights for goalkeeper Kieran O’Boyle as nothing was ever going to beat him.
However there were positives signs for Bacup as the pacey Ryan Humphries knew he had space he could exploit into and with the creativity of McKenzie and McDonald they were certainly a threat going forward it was just all about that cutting edge in the final third.
On the other hand though when Bacup were forced to go long it was difficult for small striker Humphries to get hold of it ahead of big beefy defenders.
Half-Time: Ashton 0-0 BARB
Bacup goalkeeper was to be called upon many a time in this half, firstly when he was quick off his line and superbly intercepted the onrushing striker. Up the other end go the away team in pink and Omar McKenzie has his first shot which produced a good tip over the bar from the Ashton goalkeeper.
There was a feeling in the game that the three points were there for the taking slightly but the goalless draw was looking more and more likely especially with the goalkeepers in fine form.
It really should have been one nil to the home side as Ashton’s number four found himself completely unmarked from a corner but headed wide.
Substitute Matty Bryan was then introduced to try and inject some pace and craft into the side and he immediately stretched his legs and went for a lob on a tight angle as he saw the goalkeeper off his line but it dropped just over.
Time was running out but now was time for Kieran O’Boyle to shine with an outstanding hat-trick of saves each of them getting better and better. The final one right at the death was the pick of the bunch as a downward header was somehow scooped away by the goalkeeper to maintain the clean sheet.
Overall it has to be seen as a good point as it stops a run of four consecutive losses.
Full-Time: Ashton Athletic 0-0 Bacup & Rossendale Borough