Check out our goal and plenty of controversial talking points like was it a penalty?

The last 6 weeks have been nothing short of Chinese water torture (no pun intended given the amount of water we have had this winter), with all of 2018’s games cancelled so far due to waterlogged pitches. This was the first time since before Christmas that there hasn’t been continuous rain throughout the week and it told, with a full fixture list being played since November!

The Chesh headed to Maghull FC for an exciting 4th v 5th promotion face-off. Maghull, who sat 1 place above us, 2pts ahead and with 1 game in hand provided the perfect opportunity for us to start 2018’s promotion chase with a flying start.

On paper the Chesh looked an impressive outfit. Steve Wynne and Michael Tancred returned to the line-up after having missed the last few games. Ted Hinnigan stepped in for the missing Jamie Stewart and Johnie Dunn moved to centre half as captain.

On paper, the bench was an equally impressive proposition, with 2015/16 and 2016/17 player of the year Nat Midghall making his first appearance since a knee operation in October, joined by club captain Perry Hughes and his brother and defensive stalwart Jamie. Unfortunately their presence was no more than an emergency option, with all three not being fit to play. With a whole host of injuries, manager Robert Midghall was forced to name himself as the fourth sub.

The Chesh got off to a flying start, with Sam Dickson narrowly missing an edge of the box snapshot in the opening seconds. He quickly followed this up with a nice cross from the right which Karl Brown promptly dispatched with a nice left foot volley from 6 yards to take the Chesh into the lead with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

Danny Mulvihull had two excellent chances, one which killed a pigeon in the next county and another which was rather fortuitously saved by the keeper, not that he knew much about it. Dickson also remained a constant thorn in the Maghull side and was denied two penalty claims after driving runs which, replays show, should have been given.

Maghull had a couple of long distance efforts, mainly coming from momentary lapses in concentration, but other than that, the back four of Wynne, Andy Dickson, Dunn and Jack Newton remained well in control, orchestrated by the wryly experience of Hinnigan.

Unfortunately it was the second half that saw power shift. The home team, with a full bench, started to take control of the game as legs began to tire. The Chesh continued to look dangerous on the break, with Dickson being wrongly adjudged offside when clean through, Brown narrowly missing from 40yds with an audacious free kick and a dribble and shot from Tancred that would have undoubtedly been a contender for goal of the season.

However, on what was a large and still quite heavy pitch, legs which had not played football for 2 months began to tire. With that came increased pressure from Maghull and whilst chances were relatively limited to long distance efforts, the longer the game went on, the more it became increasingly camped camped in our half.

Maghull, who had shown a more physical approach to the game throughout, began to show signs of frustration as the minutes ebbed away, which were promptly exhibited in their tackles. An horrendous lunge from behind on Dickson showed no intention to get the ball and left the striker needing 5 minutes of treatment on his back. The absence of a yellow card (shown to be an awful decision from the replay) only further encouraged dangerous play, which culminated in Mick Ward being carried off with 20 minutes remaining with ligament damage after another late challenge and unpunished foul.

With the only fit sub on the pitch, it was very much on the remaining 10 starters to dig deep… and so they did. After remaining solid at the back and even having a few chances to extend the lead, it took a lucky equaliser to rob us of the full 3 points. With 5 minutes remaining an intended cross caught Hinnigan momentarily off his line and landed in the far left corner.

It was an unfitting end to the game. Tired, battered and definitely bruised, the Chesh can count themselves unlucky not to have take all 3 points. A poor refereeing performance gifted no protection and robbed us of at least one penalty opportunity, but with those things now being in the past, manager Midghall can take away the fact that even after 8 weeks without football, his squad are still well in contention for promotion and only stand to get stronger with players returning from the treatment room.

Full match highlights, including some of the controversial talking points can all be seen on our YouTube channel.