BILLINGE crashed out of the Cheshire League Premier Division, on Saturday, losing 5-4 on penalties to Egerton FC.

The game finished 2-2 and The Storks will be kicking themselves as they dominated for almost the full 90 minutes.

All the goals came in the first-half and Billinge will rue two defensive lapses that cost them the match.

Amazingly this was the third time the teams have met this season with the Storks winning both the previous encounters 3-0 and it looked like they may repeat that scoreline as they took the game to the visitors from the start.

The first ten minutes saw both the Billinge full-backs marauding forward as Elliot Bradshaw and Liam Thomas both had shots well-saved by Joel Thompson in the Egerton goal.

The visitors’ first attempt on goal came on 11 minutes when Ross Farran fired over from distance.

Then from the resultant goal kick The Storks custodian Kieran Halliday miscued his clearance straight to Kallum McDonnagh, whose first time shot went just wide.

Billinge bounced back and on 15 minutes were ahead after Nial Dawson’s shot was handled in the area by Egerton captain and ex-Bury player Dougie Pringle.

The Storks skipper Chris Cottington stepped up to hammer the ball past Thompson to make it 1-0.

Billinge had the bit between their teeth as Dawson (three times), Kyle Ross and Rob Lamont all went close.

However on the half-hour mark Egerton were level.

Moaro Boavontura cut in superbly from the left only to have his shot brilliantly saved by Halliday.

However from the resultant corner The Storks had three chances to clear the ball but all they could do was knock it to Farran who hit an unstoppable volley from the edge of the box.

Two minutes later Billinge were back in front when, this time, Egerton failed to clear a corner allowing Thomas to fire home from 30 yards and restore their advantage.

Ross then had two great efforts saved before a neat Lamont flick was cleared for a corner.

However on the cusp of half-time another mistake saw Egerton level.

A run-of-the-mill Farran free-kick was fumbled by Halliday and fell into the path of Jack Smith who knocked the ball home from two yards.

It was rough on the young keeper who has been in marvellous form all season.

The second-half was quite simply one-way traffic as Billinge, playing against the wind, limited the visitors to just one shot at goal; with that coming in the first minute of the half.

At the other end man-of-the-match Danny Murphy went close with a shot from the edge of the box after great work from Ross and Lamont.

On the hour mark substitute Lewis Jones created two great chances but couldn’t quite find a Billinge head.

On 73 minutes Thompson saved well from Lamont but the striker would feel he should have done better and then on 80 minutes Murphy hit the side netting after great work by Lamont and Bradshaw.

The last ten minutes saw the visitors hanging on for their lives as Jones and Lamont went close with shots.

Jones then a glorious chance but headed over from a corner and then Bradshaw brought another superb save out of Thompson.

The final action of the half saw Egerton’s Andy Brown get a yellow card.

The combative centre-forward was lucky to have not received one earlier in the game after some rumbustious challenges.

On this occasion he was lying on the ground - after a fair challenge - for 20 seconds before “miraculously” jumping up and attacking Murphy; however on this occasion referee Jack Slater, who otherwise had an excellent game, only deemed the attack to be a yellow.

As it was the game finished all-square and went to penalties with nine of the ten perfectly taken.

Unfortunately for Billinge, their regular penalty taker - and scorer of one during the match - Cottington had his effort well saved as Egerton went through 5-4.

After the game The Storks manager Wayne Wardle while bitterly disappointed to go out of the up said: “We knew before the season started that this weekend would be a difficult one for the club as we had 12 players in Ibiza, 14, in total on holiday and others missing with injury.

“I’m not one of those managers that brings players in for one-off games so we did our best and got two squads out.

“Even with that in mind, everybody at the ground could see that we were by far the better team on the day but that’s football and cup football, specifically.

“We’ll not get down as we know that as soon as we learn to cut out the mistakes we’ll be a very, very good side.”

Next weekend Billinge are without a first team game as Kieran Halliday and Chris Cottington are both in the Cheshire Football League Representative Squad.

They are in the 16 that will travel to Douglas in the Isle of Man to take on their representative side in the FA National Inter League Cup.

This is a massive achievement, and rich reward, for Kieran, Chris and Billinge Football Club; and the best wishes of everybody at the club goes out to the players.

The Isle of Man are one of the fancied teams but this is a very strong Cheshire outfit and hopefully they can prevail and progress to the next round.