Barnoldswick Town 1 Stockport Sport 2
It never rains but it pours for Barnoldswick Town’s new manager Stewart Airdrie.
He found himself pressed into action as goalkeeper in Monsoon-like conditions on Saturday after Billy Carrington failed to turn up.
He became the ninth player to appear between the sticks for the Victory Park after a succession of calls went unanswered.
Now Town say Carrington won’t play for the club again. Secretary Lynn James said: “Billy texted Stewart Airdrie late on Saturday morning to say he had a child care issue, but whenever Stewart or I tried to call him to see if we could help out, he didn’t answer.
“When the team sheet went in at 2.15pm we still had Billy’s name down, but we were allowed to make a late change to put Stewart in.
“It certainly wasn’t an ideal situation but Stewart did a fine job. The conditions were absolutely awful and in the end we were unlucky not to get a draw.”
Barnoldswick had to turn to Airdrie because Lyle Davy was on holiday, their third goalkeeper Ian Clarkson has a cruciate ligament injury, and Chris Taylor – who appeared in the recent game against Alsager, was wanted by his parent club FC United.
The match was lucky to take place as rain from noon onwards left puddles of water all over the pitch.
Apart from 15 minutes at the start of the second half when the sun came out, the game was played in rain, and was fortunate to be completed.
Attacking options were limited in the first 15 minutes as the sides struggled to get to grips with the conditions.
The first shot was from Stockport’s Liam Millen and it flew just wide. The visitors thought they should have had a penalty after 22 minutes when Anthony Pollard challenged Ben Brooks just inside the Town penalty area, but referee Richard Wild said no.
Stockport were looking the more likely side to score and stand-in keeper Airdrie made a brilliant save at the foot of his right-hand post, clinging on to the ball from a good header from Ben Halfacre, who beat the Town defence to a Millen cross, just after the half-hour mark.
Stockport took the lead after 42 minutes when Brooks fired in a fierce shot that was blocked straight to Halfacre who netted the rebound.
Town had to make a substitution at half-time with Matt-hew McNamara having to make way through injury for Aaron Hollindrake.
Town started the second half pressing for an equaliser and thought they had won a penalty after 53 minutes.
Matthew Cavanagh was upended by Joshua Tinker and the referee appeared to point to the spot but changed his mind and the Town player was booked for diving.
Two minutes later and Stockport keeper Matthew Green dived to his left to tip Chris Ridehalgh’s 20-yard shot onto the post.
This was Town’s best period of the game and they equalised when Sam Howell latched onto a clearance 25 yards out and crashed a shot past Green for the equaliser.
Hollindrake carved a chance out for himself but his chip drifted just wide.
With 20 minutes left Carl Ellerton went round Green on the penalty spot but pushed the ball just a little too far to the keeper’s right.
By the time he brought it under control Green had recovered, and the ball seem-ed to get caught under his feet which stopped him getting any power in the shot.
Joel Melia, who had been quiet by his standards, was beginning to go on his trademark runs, one of these took him past three defenders before he shot over the bar.
With four minutes left and Town pressing for a winner the ball was played square inside the Stockport half.
In the heavy conditions the pass never reached its target and was intercepted. A quick counter attack saw Sam Pollard take the ball on and calmly slot it past Airdrie for the winning goal.
Town deserved something out of the match, but missed chances cost them again.
Stand-in keeper Airdrie could not be faulted as his handling in the wet was first class.