Lancashire and Cheshire AFL: Whalley Range prevail after Mellor shootout

Lancashire and Cheshire AFL
Whalley Range thirds v Mellor thirds (Range in red and black)

Poor weather and waterlogged pitches reduced the Lancashire and Cheshire AFL league and cup programme but there were plenty of vital and thrilling matches.

For thrills and spills the Whitehead Cup semi-final between Mellor thirds and Whalley Range thirds could not have been better as the game had more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel before going into a dramatic penalty shootout.

After Mellor had opened their account through Ian Arnfield the lead constantly changed hands with both sides looking to have the game won before it ended at 5-5.

Range came back well to lead 2-1 with strikes from Malik Tabib and Sam Remeh but Mellor had their answer as Arnfield and Lewis Hanlon restored their lead at 3-2.

Super-sub Ryan Compson struck twice for Mellor with Darkash Hamed, Ahmed Ramadan and Abid Rshid netting for Range to set up the penalty shootout.

It was again on a knife-edge as the first five ended at 3-3; Omar Benali then kept his cool to slot home the winner for Range after Mellor had missed the first of the sudden-death kicks.

The Wray Cup clash between Hooley Bridge Celtic and AFC Oldham also ended at 5-5 with Oldham winning the penalty shoot-out by 5-4.

Few problems for Newton Heath in their Rhodes Cup game at Santos as they cruised to a 5-1 win.

There was a setback for Mellor’s hopes of closing down Whalley Range’s big lead at the top of the premier division.

Mellor looked set for a routine win against High Lane as Liam Millen gave them the lead on two minutes but Lane came back well to earn a point in a 2-2 deadlock that leaves Mellor nine points short of Range with three games in hand.

There was another close contest at Tintwistle Athletic with the home team triumphing by the odd goal in seven against a lively South Manchester.

Clay Murray (two) and Jay Rushton netted for South but Athletic prevailed to take over third spot in the table.

The other game in the division saw Old Ashtonians take a big step away from the bottom two with a 3-2 win at Moston Brook.

There was a reality check for division one leaders Moorside Rangers as they suffered their second defeat of the season at Bury Ams.

Rangers paid for complacency as Bury defended superbly and took advantage of their rare chances to post a shock 3-1 win.

There was an amazing goal fest at Stoconians as they entertained Old Stretfordians.

Stocs powered through the first half to lead 5-0 at the break and added a sixth early in the second half.

But Strets, inspired by the ageless Alex Ritchie, staged a great comeback to see Stocs eventually hang on to win with an amazing 8-5 scoreline.

Lancashire and Cheshire AFL
Mellor v High Lane (Mellor in blue)

Division two leaders Waterloo were without a game and Whalley Range seconds took full advantage with a resounding 7-2 win at Moston Brook seconds to overtake Mellor seconds into second place and close the gap on Waterloo to four points.

This score was matched at Parrs Wood Celtic seconds as they went down local derby rivals Chorltonians.

There was also a shock for division three leaders Didsbury seconds as they lost out 3-2 to Cheadle Hulme Athletic.

Paul Barnes and Connor Powers netted for Didsbury  but Athletic hit back through Jack Knight, Roy Anderson and Luke Hobden to take the points

Second-placed Chorltonians seconds also went down 6-5 hosting Rochdalians seconds allowing Salford Vics seconds to overtake them as they beat Newton Heath seconds 6-3.

Heath came flying out of the blocks to strike on 90 seconds but Vics kept their composure and goals from Dane Roberts and promoted Jordan Jones (two) saw them lead 3-1 at the break.

Heath again struck early in the second half but Vics eased home with Reece and Ryan Ratcliffe and 41-year-old Danny Neil on target for a comfortable looking win in an excellent game played in a great spirit.

The other game in the division had Heaton Mersey winning by the odd goal in three hosting Chadderton Park.

Division A games were wiped out but in division B it was business as usual for the top three teams.

Runaway leaders Abacus Media seconds retained their ten-point lead with a 4-2 win over Bedians seconds.

Tintwistle Athletic thirds worked hard for a 2-1 win at Hillgate to stay in second spot and Village Manchester are also in the mix as a double from Daniel Mooney, one from the spot, took them to a 2-0 win over Deans.

There was delight for basement team Staly Lions seconds who posted their best win of the season walloping Milton seconds 7-2.

Moorside Rangers seconds closed the gap on non-playing division C leaders Spurley Hey seconds with a 4-2 win at Abacus Media thirds and are now a point off the top with two games in hand.

AFC Stockport shared six goals with Didsbury thirds and Parrs Wood Celtic thirds enjoyed a 6-2 win over AFC Oldham thirds.

Just one game in division D and Chadderton Park seconds’ hopes of moving into second place were hit as they went down 4-2 hosting Swinton seconds.