Alderley Edge travelled to promotion chasing Oxton as the two form sides in the North Premier division looked to keep their runs going. Oxton went in to the game in second place and the league's highest scorers.
From the off Oxton played the ball around confidently looking to find holes in the Alderley defence, but with Joe Gregory and Mattingly fitting into their midfield role and the endeavours of the forwards Oxton created little. Alderley were looking good breaking from deep and kept stretching the backline of Oxton.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring when Alderley were passing the ball round the back left Jackson isolated. He was tackled and Oxton found the unmarked player whose slapped first time finish found the roof of the net.
Alderley stuck to the task in hand and good link play up the left led to Gregory finding a foot in the D, everyone stopped except for Adam Wildig who took advantage of the hesitation, held off the would be tacklers and passed to James Warburton who finished neatly. Throughout the rest of the half Oxton pressed high but created little and Alderley, despite not being at their best, still managed to threaten on the break.
The second half was a similar tale - Oxton having the majority of possession but not making anything of it. Jackson and Badger were repeatedly winning their tackles and Kay and Cook able to cover any through balls. Alderley looked at their best when Parr broke forward to support the wingers and Warburton almost benefitted, but as the ball came back off the 'keeper he failed to lift the ball into the net.
The goal was not long in coming as again Alderley found Oxton caught short in defence and again the 'keeper made the initial save, but Wildig was on hand to apply the finish.
Oxton started pressing further and further forward, but still could not create any shooting chances, Alderley through Sam Gregory were looking dangerous and Joe Coxon and Ben Gregory both squandered good crossing opportunities. The game was in the final ten minutes when Riley's clearance struck Mattingly to give Oxton only their second penalty corner of the match. Oxton duly equalised.
Alderley knew that a draw would guarantee them safety with two games to go. Oxton, who had pushed nearly everyone forward, created one final shooting chance but the reverse stick strike was well saved by Riley and Alderley were able to see out the remaining time and get the draw which was the minimum that they deserved. The point puts Alderley 7th, their highest position of the season.
2s back on winning ways
The second team beat Wigan 5-3 to put them in 4th place in North Division 2, and they have a game in hand on those above them. In a game they were the better team for most of the afternoon, the goals came from Oli Wildig (2), James Warburton with a penalty corner , Frankie Bryant on his return and Nathan Hodgson.
3s Just Champion
The third team wrapped up the league title by defeating their nearest rivals Oxton, by 3 goals to 1. This is their second successive championship. They lead the table by 10 points with two games to go and 18 ahead of third place. In a relatively tough game Alderley always seemed to have the upper hand, composure in front of goal was the telling difference. Andy Walker with two and Chris Hall with the goals.
4s One win from the title
In a huge weekend for the 4th team they started off top of the league by one point, but had a double header including against title rivals Denigh.
The first game was against Bebbington and Alderley put in a fully committed performance and pu their opponents to the sword winning 12-1. The crunch game on the Sunday, where Alderley were looking to avenge one of only two losses all year. Again Alderley were at their best and ran out convincing 5-0 victor's against a very feisty opposition. A superior ability from penalty corners the crucial difference.
The lead gives them a 4 point lead at the top of the table meaning victory in either of their last two games will guarantee them the title. Weekend scorers were Ben Hodkinson (5), James Ireland (4), Tom Scott (3), Ed Johnson (2), Louis Godfrey, James Offer, Chris Ashton and an own goal.
5s keep top spot, 6s narrowly fail to help out
Alderley's fifth team carried on the good work from their colleagues with a convincing 4-0 win over Macclesfield 3s. They remain just one point ahead of Bowdon with two games to go and only the champions guaranteed to be promoted.
Alderley's 6th string played Bowdon and narrowly failed to give the 5s more breathing space going down 3-2.
Match reports by James Riley.
Photos: Adam Wildig going close for AEHC and 3rd team celebrating.