With games in hand on the teams above, 1874 had the perfect opportunity to capitalise and take the top spot if they won against struggling opposition Squires Gate, and they did just that. 1874 were dealt a blow before the game as record goal scorer Scott McGowan was deemed unfit to start due to a hamstring injury, so the side saw an enforced change with Lee Knight leading the line and Harry Cain coming into the starting eleven.
This didn’t phase the greens though, 1874 started brightly pursuing with their high press and looking to force errors on the Gate backline. The first opportunity game 10 minutes into the game as Harry Cain’s effort was cleared off the line by the Squires Gate defence which left the keeper for dead.
However, 1874 soon broke the deadlock, a superb ball from Matt Russell found Jake Parker whose effort was palmed into the path of Taylor Kennerley, who fired home to give the greens the lead. Soon after the advantage was doubled. A through ball from Lee Knight found Jake Parker who stroked the ball past the keeper from a tight angle to give Squires Gate a mountain to climb.
1874 nearly added a third just minutes later as Lee Knight broke free in the penalty area but his audacious chip beat the keeper and narrowly beat the bar to keep the score 2-0. The greens minutes later did make it three. A relentless piece of attacking play saw Harry Cain brought down in the area which awarded 74 a penalty which Cain converted giving the greens the 3 points 60 minutes before time.
Just before half time Cain added a fourth, a superb volley into the bottom corner wrapped up the tie in an inch perfect first half performance. The second half saw Squires Gate make all three substitutions in an extremely below par performance in the first 45 minutes.
The second half followed a slightly different pattern to the first as 1874 couldn’t make the possession count in the final third, partially down to an excellent goalkeeping display from Jordan Gidley.
1874 came close to adding a 5th in the 73rd minute through a thumping effort from Lee Jackson who was denied by Gidley who commanded his area excellently during the second half. The half in truth became a scrappier affair with 1874 not making possession around the penalty area count whilst Squires Gate failed to threaten all afternoon thanks to Mark Jones and Lee Jackson.
However, the hosts were given a golden opportunity to take something from the game as a penalty was awarded five minutes from time but a first class save from Tony Aghayere kept his clean sheet intact. Saturday’s win saw 1874 climb to the top of the North West Counties in superb style ahead of Tuesday’s clash versus Hanley Town.