Updated: Aug 27, 2019
By Tony Duckworth After a summer of change within the Blues squad there was much anticipation and excitement from the travelling band of supporters. The Blues have been given a very tough August by the “powers that be”, with the first tough challenge an opening day trip to Burscough in what was an unhappy hunting ground for them last season. There was a buzz around Burscough as they announced some big signings in the run up to the game and have a new management team eager to impress. The Blues have had an exciting preseason campaign winning all but 1 of their preseason games so it would be good to see if this could continue into the season. Winsford Manager Lee Duckworth named 8 “new” faces in his squad for the game, which got off to a disastrous start for Winsford as the hosts took an early lead within the first 60 seconds. Sam Turnbull was approximately 20 yards out on the far by-line when he put a hopeful cross into the Blues penalty area. The cross had too much height and power to hit the danger area but instead somehow nestled itself into the far top corner with little anyone could do. The blues then settled into their rhythm and began trying to move the ball quickly on a difficult pitch. The first real sight of goal came when Nathan Cotterell turned his man and delivered a great ball in to the box to be met by a powerful header from Dave Short which crept just wide. Burscough stung by this continued to pump long balls down the centre of the pitch looking for a flick on from the lively Hill for the pace of his strike partner Zama. The blues defence marshalled by Thomas snuffed out threats early. Then came the equaliser, I raking ball wide found O’Conner whose first touch lifted it over the defender, he then set himself and beat the keeper with a deflected shot low to the keepers right for a deserved equaliser. Minutes later the away side were awarded the penalty when another cross into the box was unexpectedly punched by a Burscough defender. Dave Short strode up and hit a strong rising shot which the keeper made a fine save from, unfortunately Jennings couldn’t convert the rebound despite being the first on the scene. The blues midfield then began to exert control further on the game with the guile of McGonigle and O’Connor aided with the energetic Jennings and Marshall willing runners. A rasping volley from the lively Cotterell was well saved again by the home custodian as the Blues searched for another. Langley had been a relative spectator during this period but had to be on his toes to make a great save when a deep cross from the left allowed Hill a free header. Burscough continued to carry a threat from set pieces and a long throw in, but Langley patrolled his area with confidence and met anything that came into the area. Half time came too soon for the blues but allowed both teams to reset and review the past 45 minutes. The first 15 minutes of the second half started at a ferocious pace as both sides searched for an advantage. There were multiple thunderous challenges in the centre of the park as no quarter was given from either team. Bookings followed for McGonigle and Jennings as the game became a bit stop start. Duckworth responded by introducing Madeley following a heavy challenge on O’Connor. Minutes later the blues forward won a corner. A great delivery was met by Thomas whose glancing header found the far corner to the delight of the travelling fans. The blues were now in the ascendency again and were pushing for a further goal. A flurry of home substitutes couldn’t stem the tide and a foul on Madeley right on the edge of the 18 yard line presented a great opportunity. Up stepped McGonigle to drive a bullet into the bottom corner of the net. A goal worthy of winning any game. The blues then made further changes as Skolorzynski and Jennings were the subjects of some heavy challenges. With 10 minutes to go Burscough pushed forward and began to come into the game using pacey counter attacks. The blues back four held firm and sent the travelling supporters home happy, full of continued optimisim for what this season may hold. BLUES – Langley, Skolorzynski (Lever 67), Disney, McGonigle, Thomas, Foster, Jennings (Coley 74), O’Connor (Madeley 55), Cotterell, Short ©, Marshall – Subs not used – Elliott, Jenyons VERDICT – A tough away game made even more difficult by the playing surface could easily have disrupted the Blues. This team however seems made of sterner stuff. Now the focus turns to an even more difficult away trip to rivals 1874 who won themselves on Saturday for what is sure to be a cracker! The Blues faithful can remain optimistic as the early signings for this squad show anything is possible.