by Gary Langley
Litherland Remyca headed along the M58 for the relatively short trip to Wigan Robin Park on Saturday knowing a win would keep them on track for a potential play-off position come the end of the season. After a narrow 3-1 defeat to runaway leaders Atherton Colls the previous weekend Phil Stafford rung the changes to his squad for this game with John Hastings on the bench, Lewis Jones getting his first start for the club and Robins old boy Connor Murphy returning to the remy starting line-up having shaken off an injury that had limited his recent opportunities.
The game started well for Litherland as they pressed forwards early on applying immediate pressure to the home side, they started with good possession and threatened early on with a flurry of corners, none of which could really be capitalised on with Wigan defending in numbers. The breakthrough came early though when on 7 minutes when Craig Marley brought down Daniel Duffy in a slightly untidy challenge that the referee deemed a penalty. Without further ado, Duffy himself stood up, placed the ball down and struck a splendid spot kick to the ‘keepers left giving him no chance to save and this gave Remyca a much deserved early lead.
The early goal seemed to lull Litherland into a false sense of security as almost immediately they took the foot off the pedal, allowing Wigan plenty of possession in midfield. Manager John Neafcy read the game well too making an early tactical change playing a risky but effective high line with his defence which restricted the visitors pushing forwards. The next chance of the game came on 21 minutes when a frustrated Daniel Duffy burst through the compact midfield and created his own space, beating two men and shooting narrowly over the bar. Reminders from the dugout to create momentum seemed to be unheeded as the Robins continued to pressure the Remyca defence who were slightly fortunate in 34 minutes when Daryl Patton was fouled seemingly on the inside of the box, however the referee deemed the initial incident started on the edge of the area and awarded just a free-kick. Wigan forward Phil Howard took the kick and forced Remyca ‘keeper Sean Lake into an acrobatic save to keep his side ahead, but it was a wake-up call to Litherland that this recently improving Robin Park side were not going to hand the points over on a plate.
As half time approached Remyca doubled their advantage slightly against the run of play when from a free-kick on the edge of the 12 yard box on the left hand side, the ball was whipped over to the back post where Chris Lowe stooped and headed the ball in from close range, ignoring the danger of the rather solid post to ensure that at the break the visitors went in with a two goals to nil advantage.
As the players had their half time oranges, Manager, Phil Stafford must have had some stark words for his charges as they came out early for the second half but were kept waiting by the home side. Assistant Manager Stuart Kier kept the players warm and focussed with some stern looking warm up exercises and this almost certainly gave Remyca the impetus as within a minute of the re-start they came close to scoring their third goal, a great ball forward by Lewis Jones was brought down superbly by Louis Austin in the box, who turned well under pressure and fired in a shot that forced Dale Gore into making a great save.
It was not one way traffic although Remyca were holding more possession than they had in the first period, Wigan had a guild edged opportunity on 56 minutes when Daryl Patton whipped in a teasing free kick from the right hand side, the ball was flicked on from the front of the pack and bounced twice in the six-yard area, no player from either side could stick a foot on it though and the ball bounced harmlessly out for a goal kick.
On 63 minutes Litherland made the game all but safe, Connor Murphy who despite only just coming back from injury had been a constant pain to his old side took advantage of a defensive lapse from the Robins and fortunately found himself with the ball just outside of the box, he headed goal-wards with real pace and slotted the ball home with aplomb to give remy a pretty much unassailable lead.
Four minutes later Remyca added a touch of sparkle to the score line when Connor Murphy yet again showed a touch of class when Colin McDonald flicked on a ball from deep, Murphy took the ball past two defenders and rounded the ‘keeper to slot home at an acute angle to make it 0-4.
The last 20 minutes Remyca did not hold too much of the ball but were still scouting for opportunity the game became more open again and it was noticeable that players from both sides were giving the ball away cheaply with mis-placed passes, however they were not in positions to be capitalised from so in that respect both were fortunate. In the last 5 minutes Wigan’s afternoon was summed up when a defensive error from Remyca allowed Phil Howard a free shot at goal from 3 yards out, he tripped as he was about to shoot and the difference in power allowed Sean Lake to recover the situation and make a good save.
It finished 4-0 to Remyca, had the wind have been blowing in a different direction this game could have finished in a number of different permutations, however it was Remyca who made less mistakes and were not made to pay for taking their foot off the gas in the first half. A decent looking win on the road saw Remyca up to ninth place in the League, leap-frogging Atherton LR in the table and back into a positive goal difference that may come into play come the end of the season. With Remyca now only four points of the much coveted play-off positions, key games now at Ashton Town on Saturday and at home to Eccleshall on Weds 25th now have even more sense of importance. Litherland are still in the mix and whilst other sides around them have played fewer games, Remy have the points on the board so its up to others to make up ground.
Wigan Robin Park: Dale Gore, Mike Rowan, Lee Green, Jordan Dainty, Jonathan Muzangi, Alex Neil, Craig Marley, Daryl Patton, Phillip Howard, Joe Jennings, Fabrice Bembo-Leta. Subs; Chris Smith, James Banawich, Brandon Groves, Frank Detou, Graeme Begley.
Litherland Remyca: Sean Lake, David Flynn, Callum Webb, Dean Siadankey, Stephen King, Lewis Jones, Connor Murphy, Chris Lowe, Colin McDonald, Danny Duffy, Louis Austin. Subs; Jamie Watkinson, Karl Siadankey, John Hastings, Jack Edwards