Cheadle Town 5-2 Silsden

Happy New Year. Again.

Thus far January 2017 is in stark contrast to January 2016. Whereas '16 saw a four-match losing slump that would ultimately see us drop out of the top two, '17 is heralding something of a renaissance; this victory stretched the unbeaten run to four matches.

Silsden will (rightfully) bemoan the fact that they had some key players missing for this match, but as the cliche goes you can only beat what is put out in front of you. We did just that with an air of style in the second half - no mean feat given that the Park Road baize wasn't looking its best by then - and a scoreline bordering on the emphatic.

Our bright start - we had forced the Silsden keeper into making two excellent stops with his legs as early as the 3rd minute - was rudely punctured on the 6th: a long ball forward caught our defence a bit square and Silsden's Wademan stole in to poke the ball over the oncoming Smith.

Justin Pickering, with the memory of last weekend's wonder goal still fresh in his memory, tried another ambitious effort on 13 minutes but his effort from the left of field was just over the crossbar.

The match then hit something of a lull with our efforts being let down by the final ball...until the 24th minute. George Blackwell's excellent run down the left was rewarded with a goal when Reece Webb tapped home his squared ball.

Silsden then rallied, forcing us into a bit of urgent defending and then making us wipe our collective brows as perhaps they should have retaken the lead on the 31st minute; a cross-shot rebounding back off the crossbar, catching us a bit unawares and us blessing our luck as the pull-back was blazed hopelessly wide with the goal at mercy.

We rallied back when Matt German stung the palms of the Silsden keeper with a piledriver before we took the lead with a well-worked goal on the 36th minute mark. Justin Pickering seemed to be no threat out wide on the right but that all changed with the blink of an eye when he jabbed a teasing inside ball to the unattended Luke Hincks who drove into the box and slotted home.

Silsden then had one last parting shot in the first half when their no11 - Niall Sultan - was through on goal on the left but opted for a pass to the far post to a colleague that was never going to get there.

Whereas the first half was fairly even-stevens, the second half was dominated by us and by the time stoppage time had come around, the scoreline reflected it.

The second half was barely a minute old when George Blackwell collected a cross from the right, turned smartly and fired inches wide.

Ten minutes later and we stretched our lead. A corner in from the left was squared back across the edge of the area to an awaiting Liam Tongue who swept home into the far corner.

Three minutes later Luke Hincks went on a mazy run down the left but was denied at the death just as he was about to pull the trigger before he then got onto the end of a flowing move at the edge of the box but just couldn't find enough power in the shot to trouble the keeper.

Our relentless poking and prodding produced our fourth goal on the 66th minute. Thabiso Magida's cross from the left was flicked on by the head of a Silsden defender but only into the path of Justin Pickering whose outstretched leg prodded home.

Just two minutes after that it could have been five when Luke Hincks' sheer determination on the left saw him get the better of his marker and drill the ball to the far post where George Blackwell forced the keeper into an excellent block.

In the final ten minutes Justin Pickering tried to improve his tally for the day, firing just over with another curling effort and then being put through on the right before shooting just wide before he was presented with an easier opportunity as the 90th minute ticked over.

With Silsden trying their best to reduce arrears we forced a counter attack which saw Justin one-on-one with the keeper. His cool finish put the perfect cap on an excellent team performance in the second half and one that isn't spoiled by Silsden getting one back with the last kick of the game.

Onwards we another interesting encounter away at high-flying Sandbach United next Saturday.

TEAM: Smith, Dunn (Magida), Banda, Todd, Buckley (Wood), Tongue, Hincks, German, Webb (Tosum), Pickering, Blackwell. SUBS: Magida, Tosum, M Sherrington, Whyatt, Wood.