by Garry Clarke
LOSING three games in eight days saw Rylands slip off the top of the NWCFL Premier Division table dropping to third, as Whitchurch Alport and Longridge Town moved ahead of them.
Rylands followed up their first league defeat of the season at Hanley Town by crashing to a 4-1 defeat at Longridge Town on Wednesday. Promoted to the Premier Division as First Division North champions the home side moved into second place in the league table one point behind Rylands.
Reduced to ten men by the sending off of captain Gary Kenny early in the second half, Rylands were 4-0 down before George Lomax scored a consolation goal in the 85th minute with a wonder strike from 40 yards. The scoreline could have been much worse but for goalkeeper Graeme McCall pulling off several good saves in a man of the match performance.
After the game manager Dave McNabb tweeted “Well and truly taught a football lesson tonight. Well done to Longridge Town who were brilliant from start to finish, well deserved. Haven’t got time to feel sorry for ourselves though, we go again Saturday”.
And go again they did in a thrilling encounter which had the seasonal highest crowd of 178 enthralled with the destination of the points not being decided until the final minute.
After a bright start from the blues the away side opened the scoring in the 8th minute with their first attack when a decent bit of build up play saw Carl Peers played in behind the back four and he slotted home well from the edge of the box.
For the remainder of the first half there has been little between two hard working well organized sides with neither team being able to take control of the game, with goal scoring opportunities at a premium, Rylands going closest when Tom McNamara hit the bar direct from a corner.
Bootle started to take control after the break and went two up in the 60th minute when Kieran Halligan hit a great strike from the edge of the box and the ball goes in off the far post. Goalkeeper Graeme McCall pulled off several fine saves to prevent Bootle from increasing their advantage.
Having changed their shape, Rylands pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute when after a period of sustained pressure. Callum Lees had an effort blocked on the line; the rebound fell to George Lomax who netted from close range.
Three minutes later the scores were level. Freddie Potter rose highest to superbly head home from an Adam Jones cross.
Rylands dominated the final stages of the game going close to netting a winner with attempts just off target, Bootle keeper Joe McGovan making good saves and Lomax having a goal disallowed for offside.
With a share of the points looming the visitors delivered the sucker punch. As the game entered stoppage time Rylands failed to clear the ball from their area allowing Cameron Dalton to fire the ball into the net at the second attempt.
After the game McNabb tweeted “What a game of football that was! The passion & commitment the lads showed, particularly 2nd half was brilliant and I thought we deserved something from the game. Proud of each and every one of them”.
Rylands strengthened their defensive options during the week by signing Joe Denman from Radcliffe and former Wigan Athletic and Liverpool player Anthony Plant. Denman made an impressive debut in blue against Bootle.
Rylands look to return to winning ways on Tuesday when they are scheduled to host Northwich Victoria in the NWCFL Premier Division kick off 7.45pm, before Bootle return to Gorsey Lane on Saturday in the first round of the Buildbase FA Vase, kick off 3pm.