After a clutch of matches against local opposition, teams coached by ex-coaches, top six etc. it made a pleasant change to engage in something without some sort of extra agenda.
On paper this looked like a home banker: Cheadle Town in great form, Ellesmere Rangers struggling at the foot of the table and to those who didn’t attend the resulting 4-1 scoreline would have been everything they expected.
It didn’t tell the whole story, mind, as Ellesmere certainly had their chances up to the moment we took the lead and gave some indication as to why their recent form had picked up.
Danny Whiting was called into action as early as the 4th minute, getting down low to block as Ellesmere broke down the right with our crossbar being clipped on 11 minutes when we suddenly found ourselves with a three-on-two situation.
Our first decent half-chance came on 17 minutes. Sheriff’s deep cross from the right was headed back across goal by Ben Brooks to Ben Christopher who looped a header just inches wide.
Ellesmere then had two more chances of their own leading up to the half-hour. Danny Whiting grateful for the shot being driven straight at him first of all with a simple give-and-go on the edge of our area setting somebody free on the right only for him to balloon his effort over the bar.
On the half-hour mark came the swing as we were awarded a penalty which Rhys Clooney duly buried.
Eight minutes later and we were two clear. Rhys Clooney collecting the ball in midfield, driving forward and shoving everything out of his way before rifling a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.
For all their efforts Ellesmere were now two-down in the blink of an eye.
Just after the hour mark Rhys netted his hat-trick, latching onto a Ben Christopher square ball from the left and taking his time to set himself before blasting home from close range.
Ellesmere got one back on 71 minutes from a penalty of their own which Adam Davies netted and then could have reduced the deficit even further on 80 minutes were it not for an excellent stop by the legs of Danny Whiting.
The match was put to bed just four minutes later, and for a change it wasn’t Rhys Clooney who was instrumental!
The tireless Connor Naughton saw a powerful drive cannon skywards via a pair of Ellesmere legs and spin towards the area. A bit of “after you, Claude” ensued in the Ellesmere defence and Ben Brooks was quickest to react to the falling ball, stabbing home past the hesitant keeper.
Thankfully New Years football isn’t a thing at this level and the players get a bit of a break after what has been a semi-hectic schedule. Next up is a really tricky away match at promotion-chasing Abbey Hulton United. Given our recent run of form we should have nothing to fear.
TEAM: Whiting, Wallis, Ratican (Neild), German, Dunn, Naughton, Sheriff (Ntalu), Taylor, Clooney, Christopher, Brooks. SUBS: Neild, Huynh, Ntalu, Todd.