Baptism of fire for for Stewart at Barnoldswick Town

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Norton United 4, Barnoldswick Town 0

Fans’ favourite Stewart Airdrie had a baptism of fire as he took the helm at Barnoldswick Town, after the decision to part company with Paul Fildes, Kevin Richardson and Chris Price.

The former Town player and manager has taken over until the end of the season, but could not have had a more difficult game first up, with a trip to high fliers Norton United.

Town were without had Harry Thompson, Neil Stansfield and Chris Ridehalgh all absent, but included in the squad were former skipper Shaun Airey, along with the returning Carl Ellerton and Kieran Lee.

An hour before kick-off there was a huge thunderstorm, forked lightening and hail. The ground quickly went under water, and the ground staff used a cover from the nearby cricket club to protect part of the pitch from further flooding. And the match started poorly for Town as they went a goal down in the second minute.

It was an unfortunate goal as the ball got stuck in the mud as Bill Williams was going to clear, throwing him off balance, and with the ball squirting sideways, Paul Walker was adjudged to have fouled Lee Cropper just outside the area.

Norton skipper Richard Smith stepped up to take the free kick, and the ball went over the wall and past the outstretched hand of keeper Lyle Davy.

Town’s first chance came after 10 minutes, Mark Threlfall heading Sam Howell’s cross just over.

Lee then saw his shot come out of the grasp of Daniel Roberts, but the keeper quickly pounced on the loose ball.

Norton nearly went further ahead on the half hour, Chris Baker putting in a telling cross, and Niall Green seeing his header just go over.

Then, five minutes from half-time, again the ball seemed to get stuck in the mud, and Walker could only put it into the path of Leigh Skellern, who easily scored from eight yards out.

Town went further behind on 57 minutes when a cross-shot from out wide deceived Davy at the far post, who wasn’t helped by the swirling wind.

With a minute left on the clock, Green completed the scoring to make it a miserable afternoon for Town, but there were glimpses of maybe to come when the squad’s match fitness increases.

Tomorrow, Airdrie has his first home game as Town host West Didsbury and Chorlton (kick-off 3 p.m.) at the Silentnight Beds Stadium, while the reserves are also in league action at AFC Darwen.