Irlam 4-1 Cheadle Town

And with this defeat we slip out of the top six for the first time since autumn; it might turn out to be a badly-timed shift as only three games remain.

Goals change games as the old adage goes, and the two that Irlam got in a two-minute spell midway through the second half unceremoniously kicked our foot away having fought hard to get it in the door before half-time.

Liam Tongue's daisy-cutting drive (he's good at those) from the edge of the box with five minutes of the first half remaining hauled us back into the match having seen the hosts race to a two-goal lead.

Jordan Southworth muscled his way onto the ball on the right on 25 minutes to drive home from the angle before Christian Lawlor tucked home at the far post after a cross from the right wasn't dealt with by our defence.

Previous to the opening goal we had a couple of decent chances on goal. Luke Pearson stung the fingertips of the Irlam keeper on 13 minutes before Mike Sherrington had actually put the ball into the net shortly afterwards, only to be denied by the linesman's flag.

Steve Piggott kept the scoreline at 1-2 with an excellent save just before half-time, getting down smartly to his right to stop a header.

We made a strong start to the second half as we pushed for the equaliser.

On 51 minutes Liam Tongue fizzed in a free-kick that spun up off the hands of the Irlam keeper; Mike Sherrington got his head onto the loose ball but could only direct it onto the post.

Steve Piggott was on-hand again to make a smart stop just after the hour mark before the match slipped out of our hands in that mad couple of minutes.

For Irlam's third, Steve had actually made an excellent double save but could do nothing to prevent Boland bundling in on the third time of asking. Confusion then reigned as the linesman had initially had his flag up, with the referee then choosing to overrule.

Still feeling slightly aggrieved we then perhaps switched off as a cross from the right was easily tapped home by an unmarked Lawlor for his second of the game and Irlam's fourth.

Three games left: Manchester Northwich Villa, Rochdale Town and Daisy Hill, all away from home. It's still possible - of course it's still possible - but we're now in the situation of it being out of our hands.

Nine points and, admittedly now, a few favours, snookers, call them what you will, is what we need.

Onwards and chins up.

TEAM: Piggott, Smallwood, Pearson, Trucca, Halliwell (McLaughlin), Dunne, Hincks, Tongue (Stevenson), M Sherrington, Whyatt, Magida (Horan). SUBS: Stevenson, McLaughlin, Horan.

Before the match, Mike Sherrington received his NWCFL Player of the Month award from the league's very own Geoff Wilkinson

Before the match, Mike Sherrington received his NWCFL Player of the Month award from the league's very own Geoff Wilkinson