Andrew Jackson’s The Story Of Friday Night Lights: Part three

26th May 2022

By ANDREW JACKSON

OLDHAM have been the opposition at Friday Night Lights once before.

They came to New River looking to complete the feat of winning every away game in the league season under former Skolars’
coach Tony Benson.

In contrast, Skolars had won just two games all season, though a 68-22 victory against bottom place Gateshead Thunder in their penultimate game gave them some confidence.

Oldham made a quick start to the scoring, a penalty gaining them early field position, which enabled Valu Bentley to score after just two minutes.

They increased their lead soon afterwards when O’Connor did well to twist in the tackle and ground the ball in the right corner.

Then John Gillam took advantage of a clever kick from Matty Ashe that to put the visitors further ahead.

However, Skolars worked their way back into the game. Smokie Junor’s good chase to a kick pressurised the defence and regained possession allowing Austen Aggrey to score.

A try went begging as Michael Sykes couldn’t keep hold of a Sam Gee pass with a gap appearing in front of the posts.

But when Neil Thorman came into the line and broke Oldham’s defence, the home side were right back in contention.

Oldham re-asserted themselves with a Ben Heaton try, which followed a scrum for accidental offside.

Gregg McNally moved the ball quickly into centrefield for Heaton to push through the stretched defence. Matty Ashe’s conversion saw the visitors lead 12-26 at half-time.

Skolars scored soon after the restart, with Olly Purslow running onto a well-flighted Gareth Honor pass.

The Londoners almost levelled the game. A Jy-Mel Coleman break saw Matt Thomas held up over the line. The next move saw Sam Gee go for the line, but he lost the ball as the defence closed in.
After that scare, Oldham took control. The hard working Chris Clarke powered over, followed by a second try for Gillam. This again came from a kick from Ashe, though this time it was a kick to hand rather than along the ground.
As dusk descended, McNally scored two late tries, the second of which was against 12 men, after Jy-Mel Coleman was sin-binned for dissent.

A late break by Skolars saw the decisive pass to Ade Adebisi ruled forward and the resultant backchat from Skolars could have led to any of six being sin-binned, but it was Honor that was selected.

With the news that James Massara was to lose his role at coach after just one season in charge their was no happy ending with the final scoreline 18-48.

The Challenge Cup final the following afternoon saw Warrington Wolves retain the title, beating Leeds Rhinos 30-6 in front of 85,217 spectators, a record crowd since the rebuilding of Wembley at the turn of the millennium.


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