Eccleshall 0-0 Cheadle Town

Another draw that doesn’t do anything to try and help crowbar ourselves away from 11th spot in the table where we seem to have taken root.

Both teams were complicit in providing the goalless scoreline, seemingly reluctant to put the ball in the net when presented with gilt-edged opportunities to do so.

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Eccleshall probably had an inkling it was “going to be that kind of day” as early as the 28th minute. Having won themselves a penalty they were denied by an excellent Danny Whiting stop top his left, grasping the ball in flight without having to parry it to further danger.

Danny’s palms had been stung as early as the first minute when he had to deal with a well-taken free-kick but from that moment until the penalty it was all Cheadle.

Nathan Ntalu was sent scampering free down the right in the 9th minute but was denied by an excellent tackle before an outrageous passage of play on the 15th minute where we had three consecutive chances to take the lead.

Rhys Clooney bombed down the right and put over a delicious cross for Ben Brooks at the far post but his close-range effort was saved. The loose ball then kindly fell at the feet of Callum Knight but his effort was blocked with Tom Ratican then collecting and arcing a shot goalwards that was saved again.

Our “going to be that kind of day” moment came just before half-time.

Nathan Ntalu was sent racing clear down the right once more where he managed to delicately lob the onrushing keeper. Despite the fact he was following the ball in to absolutely make sure it somehow got cleared off the line at the last minute. We’re still not sure how it stayed out.

Connor Naughton keeps tabs on Eccleshall’s tricky no11

Connor Naughton keeps tabs on Eccleshall’s tricky no11

The second half started with more Cheadle pressure.

Ben Brooks nodded the ball back across goal for Ntalu to race onto but the keeper put in an excellent block at his near post to deny us yet again. From the resulting corner Ollie Hatfield-Banton plunged a free header over the bar.

The hosts then had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock moments later but dilly-dallied over it for far too long and did actually have the ball in the net just before the hour mark but was ruled out for offside.

Eccleshall went in on the Cheadle goal down the left twice more and squandered as the match became a bit more stretched towards the closing phase.

On 81 minutes the returning Rhys Webb clipped one in from the edge of the area but saw it tipped over the bar and that was the final decent effort on goal for either side as the match descended into an unfortunate climax with Ollie Hatfield-Banton receiving a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident.

The referee did his utmost to try and avoid a deadlock by adding on a hefty eight minutes of injury time but, having witnessed the profligacy from both sides, should have realised that was never going to bear fruit.

Next up is the visit of Maine Road this Saturday, the first of just five home matches remaining for our First XI.

TEAM: Whiting, Wallis, Ratican, German, Dunn, Hatfield-Banton, Ntalu (Magida), Knight, Clooney (Osakwe), Naughton, Brooks (Webb). SUBS: Osakwe, Magida, Webb.