Welfare twice came from behind to equalise against Parkgate but were beaten by a 30 yard free-kick from Simon Harrison four minutes from time, writes Steve Pennock. (Main photograph by Toby Wildgoose)
Both teams deserve credit for a game played in freezing, wet and windy conditions and Welfare could count themselves unlucky not to have taken at least a point from the game after a spirited performance.
The Welfare side had a more familiar look to it with Gareth Roberts, Josh O’Neill and Jordan Buckham all returning, although Josh Bucknall was missing through illness and Chris Simpkins through injury but Dan Vinten and Tom Finley made their first start in a Welfare shirt
Parkgate took the lead in the 11th minutes when Reece Hands sent Brandon Bagley away and he held off the challenge of Gary Lumley to fire past Adam Stevens.
Matthew Crookes headed a Parkgate free-kick wide of the near post on 26 minutes but two minutes later a good Welfare move saw Craig Aspinall’s 18 yard shot charged down and Vinten’s follow up shot was deflected over the bar.
On 35 minutes Buckham worked his way past a couple of challenges to cut into the box from the right before seeing his shot from a tight angle blocked in front of goal.
The second half saw conditions get worse as the rain and sleet came down but even though playing into the elements Welfare took the game to Parkgate. Finley went close on 53 minutes when he lifted the ball over the bar from close range at the the back post following a cross from Buckham on the left and on 55 minutes Aspinall made a great run at the heart of the visitors’ defence before seeing his low 18 yard shot saved by Chris Butt.
On 61 minutes Liam Radford made a great run through the middle to break into the box but Butt blocked his shot only for Radford to be impeded as he tried to reach the rebound with the referee immediately awarding the penalty. Radford stepped up to take the spot-kick himself and blasted the ball past Butt to bring Welfare level.
Parity only lasted 8 minutes though as a Parkgate free-kick from the left caused confusion in the Welfare box with Hands seizing on the loose ball to fire past Stevens from close range.
Callum McKeown replaced Finley on 70 minutes and three minutes later the youngster brought Welfare level again as he drilled an angled 15 yard shot through a crowded box after several shots had been blocked inside the box following a free-kick.
Both sides were looking to grab a winner but it was Parkgate who were successful when Simon Harrison curled in a virtually perfect 30 yard free-kick on 86 minutes which gave Stevens no chance.
Welfare : Stevens, Loftus, Vinten (Betts 89 mins), O’Neill, Roberts, Lumley, Walker (Paskell 77 mins), Aspinall, Finley (McKeown 70 mins), Radford, Buckham. Unused subs. Jackson, Mansaram
Referee : Mr. A. Warner
Attendance : 65