Mellor effectively handed Whalley Range the Premiership title by denying league leaders AFC Oldham two vital points in a thrilling encounter at Wood Lane.

With Whalley winning at Newton the Manchester side are now only three points behind Oldham with four games in hand and a better goal difference.

They could tie up the title on Wednesday.

With more clinical finishing Mellor might - and maybe should have - claimed all three points.

Three times they had had one-on-one openings but could not take full advantage.

The three goals Mellor scored however - and two of Oldham's - were of the highest class.

And the holiday weekend crowd were fully entertained.

Manager Si Dalby shuffled his pack again before a midweek league game at Rochdalians and next saturday's crunch Rhodes Cup semi-final against Newton Heath.

Mark Oldham came in as a centre back, allowing Dave Whelan to play further forward.

Jack Kelly and Matt Peck were up top.

Mellor started like a whirlwind, closing AFC down all over the park.

On seven minutes the home side took the lead, Whelan rising magnificently to meet a left wing free kick and send a powerful header high into the net for 1-0.

Whelan scores with a soaring header



Mellor might have doubled their lead two minutes later when Matt Peck slipped in Jack Kelly whose close range shot was parried by Oldham's keeper.

Mellor's back five were coping admirably with the AFC attack which had scored 80 goals prior to the game (to Mellor's 64).

The home side's midfield three of Coram, Randle and Whelan looked a potent combination and Mellor dominated possession.

Jack Kelly denied


On 31 minutes Matt Peck found himself clear, played onside by the left back, a sent a cheeky lob over the keeper and inside the left-hand post for 2-0, with AFC appealing in vain.

AFC struck back within four minutes, rifling in a 25 yard free kick past the defensive wall, their first real shot of the game.

Incredibly, with their second shot - another long range free kick on 39 minutes - AFC levelled.

Mellor thought they had a penalty on 41 minutes when the AFC keeper misjudged the bounce of the ball on the edge of the area and collided with Whelan, who might have been clear with a firmer first touch.

But referee Roy Bowden was not impressed.

Whelan exacted revenge three minutes later, sending a 30 yard free kick flying inside the left hand post for 3-2.

Fairfield goes close

Whelan's 30 yard free kick finds the net


It was no more than the home side deserved for an excellent first half showing.

Mellor started the second period in the same mood and on 51 minutes Whelan's pass gave Peck the chance to kill the game but he ran on and shot wide.

Whelan then met a Dan Byrne diagonal cross with his head but the effort was saved.

On 60 minutes Coram sent Peck clear again but a defender got back to block him off.

Adam Barlow replaced Dan Byrne on 65 minutes.

A minute later Randle found Peck in the middle of the area. His first shot was parried away but Peck followed up with a second shot that the keeper saved again and AFC survived.

AFC came more into the game now and on 68 minutes Coram had to be alert to head clear a dangerous free kick from the right.

But on 72 minutes the away side equalised after a left wing raid and a cross-shot that might have found the net off a defender.

Bruce Clarke replaced Kelly immediately afterwards and on 85 minutes Hilton replaced Peck and forced a late corner with a driving left wing run.

The only other late drama was provided by a dog running on the pitch and eluding chasing players and its owner for several minutes.

On a rock hard surface Mellor can be proud of their workrate and top drawer passing.

Only ruthless finishing was missing from an excellent display.


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Dave Whelan
Matt Peck