Lower Breck manager Gary Moore couldn’t heap enough praise on his side as they inflicted a sobering defeat on Wythenshawe Town.
James Kinsey’s men were looking to move to the top of the North West Counties Premier Division in their rescheduled trip to Merseyside but left empty-handed as they succumb to their first defeat of the campaign.
Connor Rankin will steal the headlines for his two goals and an assist in the win but their complete performance was compounded with 19-year-old full-back Alfie Cowen scooping the man-of-the-match award.
Tom McNamara and Connor McCarthy also got in on the act in an impressive display at both ends of the pitch for Lower Breck.
With the milestone of 400 matches in charge looming for Moore, he was undoubtedly facing one of his sternest tests of the campaign against the previously unbeaten side.
But his side showed character to stun one of the early-season favourites for promotion to the Northern Premier League.
“Wish there was a bigger gate to see it though, but listen, outstanding,” Moore told Off The Park reflecting on another iconic night under the lights.
“The first half-an-hour in that first-half I thought we were all over them, in the first 10 minutes you seen the mistakes they made, you can say how good a side they are but they’re human, they’ll make mistakes like any side – we pounced all over them.
“Don’t get me wrong, last 15 minutes in that first-half, we started making silly mistakes, not clearing our lines, inviting them, they direct but do it very very well and that’s no slight, they do it very well but we’ve dealt with it.
“Second-half, it’s backs to the wall, we’ve missed a pen, we got the fourth goal but to blank a team like that, keep some of their lads quiet and stop them from getting on the scoresheet it’s a massive effort.”
Finding the words to describe the emotion after the game was a struggle for the Breck manager, with a voice battered from the previous 90 minutes, he reflected on a difficult spell just a matter of weeks ago which was a catalyst for change within the mentality of the squad.
He continued: “Elation, we’ve been through the ringer haven’t we over the last six weeks. We weren’t a bad side, we haven’t been a bad side all season, just lost a couple of tight games. The Longridge game was a wakeup call, we’ve changed it and it’s worked, four clean sheets in seven games against some good sides. The lads in there are ecstatic.
“We’ve told the lads we just want honesty, honest performances, you can get beat 4-0 but as long as it’s an honest performance, what can you say? When lads are coming down and putting shifts in, there’s no questions to be asked, that’s the whole thing.
“Once you’re putting in performances like that, like we have done over the last few weeks, you’re only walking off the pitch proud,” he continued.
“That’s what we take, it’s a proud performance and some outstanding performances, never mind as a team, got Connor Rankin running the line there, little Alfie [Cowen] 19 years of age, never played this level before, in at right-back. Tom Williams at left-back, that’s his third shift, three clean sheets, he’s not getting out of there is he?”
Cowen received the plaudits for his performance, nullifying one of the most dangerous attackers in the division, beating away competition from the likes of Rankin, Theo Roberts, his defensive partners as well as the rest of the squads.
For Moore, his side were valiant in defence and ruthless in attack to pounce on any lapses in concentration from the Wythenshawe Town defence.
He said: “We told the lads before the game, you don’t look like you’re going to get beat or this, that and the other.
“We told them, you can’t respect no one, it wasn’t a dirty game for 10 minutes either, we said we can’t give them anything. But if you watch it back, I think they made a few mistakes and we pounced on all over them.
“They came on strong but then again, we made stupid mistakes, they are going to make them but it’s how you react and Connor Rankin’s reactions, he had a hand in both goals, outstanding, outstanding to man.
“Theo again, 2-0, what a save, six yards out with his feet but then you can go all over the park and start highlighting the players.
“Even those off the bench, it’s not nice coming on especially if you’re 4-0 but [Ryan] Beigan’s just come off the bench, he was disappointed on Saturday but he’s come on and had an outstanding cameo for 20 minutes. They all have, they’re all playing the part. One to 15, four subs, they’ve all put a big shift in.”