Skelmersdale United manager Paul McNally slammed a poor first half as his side slipped to defeat.
Winsford United’s David Short fired in a first half hat-trick presenting a mammoth task for the promotion-chasers as two second half goals from Mikey Howard and Kenny Strickland couldn’t overturn the deficit seeing Skem lose out on the chance to make ground up on the league leaders.
Macclesfield slumped to just their third defeat of the season as Joe Rothwell scored the only goal of the game for Prestwich Heys.
Skem’s failure to salvage a result meant the lead at the top between the Silkmen and McNally’s side remains at five points.
For McNally, poor preparation led to a dismal showing in the opening 45.
“What went wrong? Probably not playing for three to four weeks, not training properly over the Christmas period with COVID and injuries,” he told Off The Park.
“First half they never looked like they kicked a ball, but credit fo Winsford, they’ve obviously been active and they were on the front foot for the first 45 and well worth their win to be fair and well worth the three goals although they were lucky at the time, they were well worth them we were so poor, I’ve never seen us play so bad.
“We got that out at halftime and we eradicated that, unlucky to probably not get a point but the damage had been done in that first 45 minutes.
“We were 3-0 down at half-time, we knew Macclesfield had lost I just said to the lads in dressing room that we’re going to go a bit more attacking, open up a bit, we either get beat 3-0 or we go down with a little bit of a fight or we get beat 5-0, it’s irrelevant either way the three points could be lost, let’s just give it a go and see where it takes us and if we can get an early goal who knows what could happen.”
Despite the two second half goals, McNally felt Winsford deserved their lead and capitalised on a lacklustre display from the North West Counties’ second-placed side.
“We were knocking on the door, we had a few opportunities early but we didn’t score the first goal till the 70th minute I think and we had numerous opportunities,” he continued.
“But we rode our luck, they had their own opportunities because we were so open but I just think a few decisions didn’t go our way second half but I’d never blame the referee but the officials, there was a few decisions that didn’t get right on the day.
“There was one of the lads through, clearly onside, he was one-on-one with the goalie l and they’ve pulled it back for offside, that was in the 55th minute so if he scored that but we had a couple of chances in front of goal missed, [if] they go in.
“You see the fear in Winsford’s face when we scored the second but it was too little too late and like I say if we got that a bit earlier I’d like to have seen how they responded because I think they were on the ropes and we could’ve got the points and possibly got the win if there was another 20 minutes but the damage was done.”
The results elsewhere came to make the defeat worse for McNally as they passed up the opportunity to cut the deficit and as a result, those trailing Skem made ground on the Lancashire-side.
“Yeah [defeat feels worse after Macclesfield loss] not just because it is a missed opportunity, teams around us won as well so they’ll now see a little bit of daylight and catch us.
“We’ve now got to put a bit of a bar between ourselves and chasing pack, get on a bit of a run. We’ve got to put that loss into some kind of perspective when you look at it, we haven’t been beaten in the league in 16 games and we’ve played all them teams; Wythenshawe, Avro, Burscough, Macclesfield so in them 16 games it’s not like we’ve played poor teams we’ve just been on a run.
“If we can do that 15 games until the end of the season, it’ll probably mean we’re promoted so we’ll have to look at something similar.”
Skelmersdale are looking to return to winning ways against Burscough, a side they had to come from two goals down against to salvage a draw.
He said: “It probably adds a little bit of importance [to the Burscough clash] but it’s three points at stake no matter what. It’s a derby, I don’t want to out too much significance on it and too much pressure, it’s just how we respond.
“If we can get back on the horse and start getting a couple of wins together then you’ll see the table open up again; everyone’s beating each other in the league so it’ll only mean a run of five or six games of straight victories and you’ll see a bit of daylight but Saturday is about putting a performance in and hopefully putting it right because they are a tough side, tough team.”