An exciting game, two thirds chess match, one third cage fight, saw Mellor Seconds almost inflict the first defeat of the season on table toppers Signol Firsts.

Mellor raced into a 3-0 lead in 64 minutes.

But Signol hit back with three goals in eight minutes to draw level.

Both sides had chances to win it, even in the last two minutes.

And despite their obvious disappointment at not winning, Mellor Seconds must take a lot of pride from this performance.

Not one player fell below an impressive standard and some were outstanding.

Woodley's plastic pitch suited the passing style of both teams.

Signol created the first danger on five minutes, McFall having to rush from his goal to fly kick clear as a forward chased a through ball.


Jonny Cooke shoots


Craig Fairfield then averted danger with a terrific defensive header under pressure and McFall made another fine save to keep the score at 0-0.

Mellor gradually came into the game with some quality passing and movement.

At times the ball flashed between four or five players, mostly one touch.

Mellor were in no hurry to get the ball foward early, preferring to keep possession and probe.

Nick Pearce and Joe Dalby linked play well in midfield and the hard work of Atherton and Leibrick up front began to cause Signol problems,.

Cooke, too, on the right was in fine form,.

On 18 minutes he teased the full back, then cut inside and sent over a dangerous cross.

It was only partially cleared and fell to Carl Brindley who got his body shape right and fired home a wonderful volley right footed.


Carl Brindley volleys in


On 30 minutes Vickers was hurt in a challenge and Dave Moss replaced him at centre back.

Three minutes later Signol missed a good shooting chance, firing wide.

On 42 minutes Carl Brindley was released down the inside-right channel, cut into the area and fired just wide.

Half time


Dave Moss's half time team talk rightly focused on the need to keep it tight and stop Signol from scoring.

And Mellor began the second period as they had ended the first, in the ascendance.

On 54 minutes Joe Dalby's 24 yard free kick was brilliantly palmed away from the top right hand corner by Signol's keeper.

The ball fell to Leibrick on a very tight angle and the keeper got down to block the winger's shot at the expense of a corner.

From the flag kick the ball broke to Craig Fairfield who, under pressure, blasted over the bar from 10 yards.

Two minutes later Mellor went 2-0 up.

A wonderful counter-attack saw the ball moved quickly from Leibrick to Pearce, who checked back at the byline to set up Brindley and the striker's shot arrowed into the top corner.

On 64 minutes Mellor were in dreamland as Fairfield got ahead of his marker at Leibrick's corner and glanced a header high into the net for 3-0.


Craig Fairfield heads in for 3-0


Mellor's joy was short-lived as Signol pulled a goal back inside two minutes.

The strike predictably lifted the home side who began to play with a zest we had not seen all match.

From a corner on 69 minutes the ball slithered along Mellor's six yard box, eluding friend and foe.

But a minute later a back post header from a right wing cross made it 2-3.

Signol's players now seemed a yard faster all over the pitch and holes began to appear in Mellor's reargard.

The neat, methodical game both sides had played had now became a frenzy of attack and counter attack, like two boxers slugging it out in the final round.

Mellor cleared off the line on 72 minutes. But in the next attack another right wing cross was driven home at the far post for a scarcely believable 3-3.

Mellor somehow regained their composure and began to tighten things up.

On 79 minutes a 30 yarder from Dalby was saved by Signol's keeper.

The home side then missed a good chance.

Lee Power replaced Atherton on 80 minutes and immediately orchestrated an exchange of passes with Carl Brindly which put the subsitute through on goal but his ground shot lacked force.

On 84 minutes Leibrick broke down the left, took Dave Moss's pass and set up Power who fired just wide.

It was end-to-end stuff.

As the game moved into injury time Mellor smuggled the ball away as a Signol forward shaped to shoot.

Then on 92 minutes Power slipped in Leibrick whose powerfully struck shot was probably too central and allowed the Signol keeper to tip the ball over.

If Mellor Seconds play like this for the rest of the season they will be contenders for top four.

The Firsts despatched Hooley Bridge 4-2 at Wood Lane.

The visitors had a man red carded on two minutes for a 'last man' professional foul and might have lost another player to a similar offence.

Man of the Match Adam Barlow with two and goals from Paul Swann and Jack Hilton sealed Hooley's fate.

The Thirds lost 1-3 at home to Stoconians Reserves. Rick Axford scored from the penalty spot.

The Fourths lost 0-3 at Old Strets.

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Carl Brindley scored twice for the Seconds
Jack Hilton, on target for the Firsts
Rick Axford scored a penalty for the Thirds