ROUND-UP BY JOHN EDWARDS
PICTURE BY DAVE PROUDLOVE
Alsager Town 3 Stafford Town 0
What a great day for some of Altrincham's up-and-coming prospects, with no fewer than five of them contributing significantly to this resounding Alsager win in the North West Counties League Division One South.
There were starts for four of them, in forwards Ryan Morton, Lewis Billingsley (on the extreme left in our picture) and Matty Sumner and keeper Ryan Forde, while winger Dion Siboko Bohe went on as a second-half substitute and crowned a lively last half-hour by scoring the third goal.
The Bullets went ahead in the 13th minute and almost doubled their lead soon after following a superb combination between debutant Billingsley and Sumner, who was chopped down near the edge of the area just as he was looking to finish the move off.
There was no stopping Matty in the 37th minute as he made it 2-0 to the home team with his first goal for Alsager, a low drilled effort that beat the keeper all ends up.
Morton, who was also catching the eye on his Alsager debut, tore through the Stafford back line and looked sure to score until being halted in his tracks by an outstanding recovery tackle by a visiting defender as he was about to shoot.
Dion replaced Matty on the hour and rounded off an excellent afternoon for the Bullets by pouncing on a wayward pass from the visitors and coolly slotting it past the keeper for his second goal of the campaign.
Alsager were full of praise for their Alty loanees, with Forde continuing his impressive consistency between the posts, dealing calmly with anything that came his way, commanding his area and distributing the ball well.
Matty stood out with his all-round play and superbly-taken goal, while debutants Lewis, who was on for 85 minutes, and Ryan, who played the full 90, were both a constant thorn in the side of the Stafford defence and Dion's directness and willingness to take players on unsettled the visitors' rearguard even more.
Well done, lads - great to see young Alty players learning the ropes in a senior environment and so clearly benefitting from the experience.
Darlington 3 Hereford 0
Plaudits for another Alty player out on loan, as Jake Cooper was singled out for praise following a far tighter, more disciplined defensive showing by a Darlington side who did their play-off hopes a power of good in the Vanarama National League North.
Manager Alun Armstrong had been calling for greater resilience at the back, and he had no doubt about where the credit should go after seeing Hereford chances kept to a bare minimum in a convincing home win.
Indeed, on the one occasion when a Hereford goal looked likely, it was Jake who denied them with a goalline clearance that protected what was a 1-0 lead at the time in the second half.
The Alty centre-back played the full 90 minutes, and a grateful Armstrong said: 'I thought Coops was outstanding, man of the match for me. I was delighted for him and the back four in general.'
Buxton 2 Farsley Celtic 0
Hardly a classic, as even manager Craig Elliott admitted, but Brad Jackson is clearly enjoying his time at Buxton after again figuring prominently in a win that extended their unbeaten run to 12 games in the National League North.
It was Alty winger Brad who launched the Bucks' first real threat, delivering a dangerous cross that the Farsley keeper claimed just as it looked bound for a team-mate's head, with the goal gaping.
The home side were already 1-0 up when Brad was substituted in the 81st minute, and another three points were safely in the bag five minutes later when striker Diego De Girolamo made it 2-0 to lift them up to 10th place.
Mossley 1 Skelmersdale United 2
Eden Bailey went straight into the Mossley starting line-up, making his debut in the number nine shirt in what proved to be a disappointing afternoon for the home side at Seel Park.
It started well enough, with Eden figuring prominently in a slick 12th-minute move that ended with Jacob Butterworth's goalbound shot being blocked by a defender.
The Alty frontrunner was in the thick of the action again a minute from half-time, racing on to a through ball down the right flank and delivering a cross that was a fraction away from being turned over the line.
After going behind in the 63rd minute, Mossley went in search of an equaliser and almost levelled when Eden's persistence won them a corner that led to a close-range effort being blocked on the line and scrambled clear.
Eden was withdrawn around the 80-minute mark, and Skelmersdale promptly made it 2-0, a 90th-minute reply proving too little too late for a Mossley side who are now in 10th position in the Pitching In Northern Premier League West Division, five points away from the play-off places.
Irlam 0 Lower Breck 0
Alty youngster Owen German got more valuable minutes under his belt at senior level after being part of Irlam's starting line-up in this hard-fought goalless draw in the North West Counties League Premier Division.
*Alty defender Joe Cooney was an unused substitute for Northwich Vics, while forward Sharif Deans was without a game at Widnes and both Ewan McGeady and Josh Jordan were sidelined by injury. Midfielder Harlan Rodgers-Morris captained Alty Reserves to a 2-1 win over Greenalls.