FOR the second time in three matches, Stoneclough only played half a game, throwing away another lead in a dreadful second-half performance to lose 5-4.

Hosting Askam United, Stoneclough had been rampant in the first half, Joe McCann’s first-half hat-trick meaning they established a 3-0 lead at the break.

But the day turned sour for Stoneclough once the sides had turned around, Askam scoring the first of five goals a minute after the restart.

The visitors hit three further goals before Stoneclough looked to have rescued a point with Jason Perry’s goal 20 minutes from time making the score 4-4.

However, six minutes remained when a fifth Askam goal consigned the hosts to a sixth straight defeat, one that left club officials scratching their heads at the sharp downturn in performance levels after half time.

“It’s a frustrating time for us, really disappointing,” admitted Stoneclough’s Peter Conroy. “We just can’t understand how it happened, it was the same against Eagley a few weeks ago, we didn’t come out for the second half after we’d been tremendous in the first and could have been five or six goals up, they couldn’t touch us.

“We had been so superior before the break, I think some of the lads got their costumes on for Hallowe’en and just gave up the ghost.

“We’d been completely in control, had had no problems at all then just got complacent, let in some goals with some dreadful howlers and couldn’t get any momentum again, or regain control.”

The loss means Stoneclough sit seventh-bottom in 11th, but just two points clear of the bottom three and this Saturday’s hosts, Wyre Villa.

Conroy remains convinced there is enough ability in the Brook Street club’s squad, but better fitness and attitudes within the team are needed if they are to climb clear of the bottom reaches of Division One.

“We definitely have the ability on the pitch, we just don;t seem to be able to hold them back once things start to go against us,” he said. “In the Eagley game they threw the kitchen sink at us in the second half and we just collapsed. It was the same again, we couldn’t contain them on a heavy pitch after they’d been dead and buried.

“If games were 45 minutes long and finished at half time I’m sure we’d be top of the table, but we’ve been complacent, we’re running out of steam and finding it hard to change our attitude.

“We’ve got a few tough games to come in the next few weeks – and if we lose to Wyre Villa, who are far from the best team in Division One, we’re in some trouble – but we’re more than capable of turning it around, we are better than the recent results and the table suggests.”

Elsewhere in Division One, Eagley were defeated 1-0 at leaders Hurst Green, staying fourth in the table.

In the Lancashire FA Amateur Shield, CMB got the better of Division Two leaders Ladybridge in a 4-3 win.

Visitors Ladybridge fell 3-0 down with Will Archer, Tom Healey and Andy Bishop netting for CMB. Cosmin Alexanderu pulled one back but Chad Rothwell restored CMB’s two-goal cushion.

Arron Rushton and Kris Power each scored for Ladybridge but they could not break down CMB’s defence over the course of the final 25 minutes and exited the competition.

In the Premier Division, Turton were pegged back in their game at home to leaders Blackpool Wren Rovers, Sam Knowles’ goal being cancelled out in the second half of their 1-1 draw.

Tempest United suffered a surprise 3-2 defeat at home to Coppull United.

n IN the Hallmark Security League there were mixed fortunes for local teams as Atherton LR won 3-1 at Chadderton, David Moore adding to Theo Kidd’s brace, but Daisy Hill were defeated 4-0 at Litherland REMCYA.