BROCTON extended their lead at the top of the Mid Comb Premier Division to six points with a narrow 2-1 away win over basement side Pilkington XXX.
A bright start for Brocton saw Jamie Evans progressing on the left and finding Paul McMahon free in the centre. McMahon’s first touch took him past a tackle and into the box, but his shot deflected straight to the home keeper.
From then on it was the Glassmen who went on to mount most of the early pressure although their first shot on goal was from distance. Adam Whitehouse parried it and gave an onrushing striker some encouragement before clutching it to his chest.
FA Vase hero Dave Berks went direct with a free kick on the half hour but, although he got power, his effort drifted wide of the mark. A corner from Pilkington needed Whitehouse to punch clear and immediately Brocton broke forward and won a corner. Berks hit it deep and Matt Skinner flew at it getting a powerful contact right in front of goal only to see it flash just wide.
Pilkington broke again and Whitehouse collected before unleashing a long kick which McMahon laid back for Fife to thunder a shot into the net, giving them a welcome, if unexpected, lead.
When Charlie Jones pinched the ball in midfield and set Berks free with the Pilkington defence on their heels, the keeper pulled off a fine save to tip Berks’ shot wide. But it was Pilkington who finished the half with yet another shot over the bar when in a good position as they pressed Brocton.
Pilkington began the second half in similar vein and when Brocton lost the ball in midfield they were quickly outnumbered at the back. This time there was no snap shot, but a calm and perfect set up in front of goal only for yet another wasteful shot wide.
Fife nearly made the home side pay immediately with a free kick round the defensive wall, well saved for a corner, and then an equally good save prevented McMahon from increasing the Brocton lead.
But a deep Berks corner settled the visitors’ nerves as Dan Lomas headed firmly in at the back post.
Pilkington’s spirits were raised by a hooked shot from Craig Oldfield which flew in off the post following a corner to make the final quarter of an hour a tense affair for the Badgers, who survived the onslaught.
This Saturday, holders Brocton are away to Coventry United in a Les James Trophy second round (1.30pm).
Brocton reserves are at home to the always competitive Norton United in a Staffs Challenge Cup tie. This game is at Silkmore Lane with a 3pm kick-off.