Billinge FC 1 Egerton 0

Billing in action last weekend. Photo: Terry Pope
Billing in action last weekend. Photo: Terry Pope

Billinge had two of their young guns to thank for their last-gasp victory over Egerton last Saturday.

Firstly on 81 minutes - with the score at - 0-0 - 17-year-old Joe Taylor pulled off a wonder save to deny Egerton's Aaron Knight then in the fourth minute of additional time Rhyse Merrifield volleyed a "worldie" past Joel Thompson to make it 1-0 to The Storks and give them the three points.

On a glorious day up at Barrows Farm, Billinge started brightly and could have been ahead after just two minutes - Jack Gibney went on a mazy run down the right wing before crossing for Adam Clare to strike well.

Unfortunately for Clare, Thompson pulled off a good save.

Moments later Gibney again tormented his full-back but this time his cross was deflected for a corner.

On five minutes Richie Allen found Phil Dearden with a lovely long ball; the striker beat his man superbly before laying the ball back to the onrushing Clare who this time blasted the ball over the bar from six yards.

It was to be Clare's only real error as he rolled back the years to produce a fine performance for his local side.

With Gibney causing havoc on the wing, The Storks took the game to their visitors.

Firstly, Gibney went close with a cross-come-shot then Clare had a 28-yard blast go just over the bar.

Gibney had another chance on 12 minutes but shot weakly before Ben Lightfoot went on a driving run forward, crossed to Allen whose shot appeared to be heading for the back of the net before being deflected wide for a corner.

Although The Storks were dominating possession and territory they had to be aware at the back as Jamaican international Omar Holness and Knight proved to be a real handful.

As it was the back three of Lightfoot, Jake Ball and James Duke handled them superbly.

The one time Lightfoot got caught was in the 14th minute when he got too tight to Knight who skipped around him, bore down on goal but hit his final shot high over the bar.

The bulk of the action, however, was firmly taking place in the visitors' half as Merrifield and the Dearden brothers caused problems all game long.

Both Martin and Phil Dearden went close and Gibney was denied again by Thompson while up the other end Holness went close with a wonderful shot from distance that went narrowly wide.

On 35 minutes Martin Deaden skipped past his defender but was cruelly brought to a halt by the referee's whistle when about to shoot on goal; the referee taking his assistant's word that the Billinge striker had committed a foul in the build-up.

A Lightfoot free-kick was met by Ball but his header was gathered to take the game into the half-time break goalless.

With the heat taking it's toil the pace was bound to slacken but it was still the Storks that took the game to the resilient Egerton side.

On 51 minutes Martin Dearden had a good effort well-saved and then a moment later nobody was able to get on the end of a Clare cross.

Meanwhile up the other end Knight brought a fine save out of Taylor.

In the 57th minute Martin Dearden again caused panic in the visitors' defence.

His cross was cleared, but only as far as Ball who fired a 25-yard effort the wrong side of the crossbar.

On the hour mark Clare produced a great run and cross that was met by Gibney but sadly, for the hosts, he volleyed the ball two foot wide of the upright.

It appeared that Egerton had now settled for a draw with their keeper Thompson angering the Billinge players and supporters with his persistent time-wasting.

On 65 minutes Martin Dearden went close with an effort from 20 yards, Merrifield tried his luck from a similar distance before Gibney turned his man inside-out before his shot was turned away for a corner.

Then on 81 minutes Knight lost his man Duke, turned and unleashed a powerful drive from inside the area that Taylor somehow pushed over the bar with an incredible save.

The game appeared to be heading for a 0-0 draw until the fourth minute of added time when Merrifield struck.

The ball was only half-cleared by Egerton and with the ball bouncing high on the hard surface Merrifield somehow twisted and turned in the air before volleying home from 20 yards leading to wild celebrations from the Billinge players, management and fans.

It was Merrifield's sixth goal in seven starts for Billinge and it may be a while before he gets a better goal than this one.

All-in-all it was just reward for the young Billinge side who had to be patient in midfield and attack and alert in defence against a rapid forward-line.

Assistant manager Nick Matthews said: "There was a great buzz in the dressing room after the game.

"The lads realised how hard they grafted in that heat and were made up they got their just rewards."

Billinge have no game this Saturday before they finish their season with two Saturday home games on May 4 and 11.