by Garry Clarke
TWO excellent away wins last week thrust Rylands right into the heart of the promotion race at the top of the North West Counties League Premier Division moving level on points with second place Bootle seven points behind leaders 1874 Northwich.
Although manager Dave McNabb is not getting carried away and looking too far into the future “Our focus is on the next game. We’ve got a really young side here, some of them have good experiences and some don’t so we can’t afford to start looking too far ahead; we did that at the start of the season after such a strong start and we got brought back down to earth with four straight defeats. The league is so tough and so hard that we can’t afford to be thinking about games that haven’t even happened yet”.
Rylands developing habit of scoring late goals stood them in good stead at Skelmersdale United on Tuesday when Sam O’Halleron’s 86th minute goal meant they brought all three points home with them.
From a free kick just inside their own half Rylands chipped the ball into the box, only being half cleared the ball was returned into the danger area and goalkeeper misjudging the loose ball O’Halleron was able to nip in and head the ball home from a yard out.
Both sides had looked to press for an early advantage. And it was Skelmersdale who made the breakthrough in the 16th minute as a corner was floated in from the left side Jordan Tyrer stole in at the far post to head the hosts into the lead.
Rylands pushed back on Skelmersdale in typical fashion as they searched for an equaliser which came in the 22nd minute, Elliot Morris drove into the box and was fouled by the defender at full pelt. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Lewis Buckley stepped up to take the penalty and fired home with an unstoppable shot.
Rylands continued to apply the pressure and on the stroke of half time Kane Drummond delivered a cross and in a freak incident, the ball was turned into the net by a Skelmersdale defender.
The home side started the second half the quickest as they equalised four minutes into the half. A hopeful ball played into the box was volleyed home by Jason Carey to level the scores.
On the hour mark, Skelmersdale had the ball in the net again as the ball was passed into the centre and drilled home but the referee spotted an infringement and disallowed the goal, keeping the scores level to set up O’Halleron’s dramatic winner.
Kane Drummond was the star man in their 3-0 victory on Saturday away at fellow title contenders Bootle, the 19 year old forward netting a hat-trick to take his tally for the season to 13, one less than leading scorer Freddie Potter.
His first came in the 22nd minute when the Bootle keeper failed to hold an Andy Scarisbrick shot, the keeper parried the ball into the path of the onrushing Drummond who put the ball away to give Rylands the lead. His second on the stroke of half time came in similar fashion this time the keeper parried a Harvey Whyte shot to the predatory Drummond who made no mistake in doubling the visitors’ lead
After the break Drummond struck again completing his hat trick with a well taken goal in the 51st minute. A ball played into Drummond on the edge of the box, saw the diminutive attacker turn his defender and drift into a one on one with the keeper. He expertly lifted it over the keeper and stroked the ball home.
After the game McNabb commented “Kane was brilliant today. He’s 19 years old playing week in, week out in a very tough league and he was exceptional and unplayable at times today and it’s great to see because he’s the most honest, genuine lad there is”.
Rylands have been busy this week boosting his ranks recruiting two experienced players from the Northern Premier League signing Paul Williams from City of Liverpool and Sam Sheen from Widnes.
Having won their last six league games Rylands return home on Saturday welcoming Skelmersdale United to Gorsey Lane for a NWCFL Premier Division game, kick off 3pm.