LANCASHIRE AMATEUR LEAGUE: Owen smashes in first-touch stunner
OLD Boltonians were denied opening up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier Division when they conceded a last-gasp equaliser at Rochdale St Clements.
But manager Julian Stevens refused to be downhearted, admitting: “It was a fair result over the 90 minutes.”
The Chapeltown men responded to an under-performing first half – in which they went 1-0 down just before the break – by switching to a more productive 4-5-1 and raising their game.
Nick Holt levelled on 55 minutes when he rode several tackles on a jinking run into the box and slotted into the corner.
David Owen then made a stunning impact with a goal that surprised the man who had sent him on from the bench seconds earlier.
“We were given a free kick and I put him on during the break in play,” said Stevens.
“He’s a big lad and I thought he was going to get himself into the box. But he got over the ball instead, stepped back and smashed it into the top corner with his first touch.
“Their keeper then had a worldie and instead of being four or five up, we conceded one at the end.
“The lads were down, but we’re still unbeaten.”
Second-placed Castle Hill missed the chance to close the gap when they went down 3-1 at an improving Failsworth Dynamoes, Des Wilcox halving the deficit on the hour when he caught the visiting goalkeeper off guard with a 25-yard free kick. The other three local Premier League clubs were in Lancashire FA Shield first-round action.
Glen Heapey scored twice as Howe Bridge Mills went through with a 6-4 victory at home to Appley Bridge that was more comfortable than the sequence of scoring suggests.
Elliott Beaver, Martin Parkinson, David Hogan and Shaun Farrimond were also on target as they went 4-0 up after 30 minutes before the Mid Lancashire League Premier Division side made a game of it.
“They got it back to 4-3 and 5-4, but we were never really in danger of not winning,” said club official Vinnie Monks.
“We were always on top and we could have scored 20, but we made mistakes defending and let them in.”
Little Lever coasted into the second round with a 6-2 win at Upholland of the Wigan League.
A neat finish by striker Scott Bingham and an own goal from Lee Valentine’s cross put the Mytham Road men 2-0 ahead before Upholland pulled one back.
Valentine restored the two-goal lead and Anthony Sivori, substitute Luke Hamilton and long-shot specialist Andy Bingham extended it to 6-1.
Horwich Victoria let a 3-1 half-time lead slip as they crashed out with a 6-3 defeat at Wigan League side Leigh Phoenix.
Carlos Cuellar scored two and Sam Shone converted a penalty for the Horwich men.
“We were pretty comfortable at half time but just couldn’t defend the long ball second half,” said manager Danny Holmes.