TRAFFORD produced some excellent composed football to dominate for long spells at Skelmersdale on Saturday but were undone by a wonder strike by Kenny Strickland just seconds before half time.
The promotion chasing Merseysiders adopted a physical approach from the start with Trafford talisman Joe Shaw targeted with a number of cynical challenges.
Trafford’s veteran defender Farrell Kilbane clashed with Skem dangerman Shaun Tuck in the 14th minute but the home team’s vigorous appeals for a penalty were turned down.
Three minutes later Trafford produced a fine move that ended with Kamahl Whight blasting a low drive that Sam Ashton saved at the foot of the post.
The visitors were on top as they neatly dominated possession with Skem relying on their long ball tactics aimed at their speedy forwards.
In the 39th minute home centre half Rob McIntosh flicked the ball inches wide following a right wing free kick and then Trafford keeper Andy Robertson produced a superb save to fingertip a Louis Corrigan free kick to safety.
However, the deadlock was broken deep into injury time when Kenny Strickland collected the ball 25 yards out on the right and struck a magnificent dipping and unstoppable drive that flew into the top corner.
The pattern of play in the second half was similar to the first with Trafford enjoying the majority of the possession but Skem always looking dangerous on the break.
In the 48th minute Simon Carden volleyed over following a fine cross from the left by Paul Ashton and three minutes later Skem’s Joe Evans crashed a thunderous header against the crossbar.
Andy Robertson saved bravely from both Tuck and Hine in a goalmouth scramble in the 59th minute while at the other end Paul Ashton blasted in a drive from 25 yards that was well held by Ashton.
Joe Shaw then headed just wide before Trafford midfielder Simon Gallanders was controversially red carded in the 70th minute following a clash on the half way line.
Despite this setback, Trafford’s 10 men continued to play their controlled short passing game with Joe Shaw half volleying wide and then striking a weak free kick from a great position on the edge of the Skem penalty area.
However, it was not to be Trafford’s day and they were rather unfortunate to fall to an unjust defeat at the hands of the high flying Skem outfit.
Trafford will be hoping to get back to winning ways on Saturday when they entertain local rivals Salford City at Shawe View and then on Easter Monday they travel to Curzon Ashton for a tough fixture against another side with championship winning ambitions. Both games kick off at 3 pm.