With the game switched from Moss Farm to St Luke’s Barton Stadium to tie in with the fun day 1874 Northwich U21’s took on FC St Helens with the winner going into the Championship West play off for promotion to the Premier Division.
On a breezy but warm day 1874 had a full squad to choose from with recent 1st teamers Adam Whitlock , Taylor Kennerley and Aaron Clayton available.
1874 had the first chance with Whitlock blasting over from close range. With only 5 minutes gone 1874 had a scare with FC St Helens putting the ball into the net after Millington had pulled off a great save. To the relief of the sizeable crowd in attendance the FCSH forward had strayed offside. Other good chances fell to Lomas and Lowe but neither could find the net. 1874 were to rue these chances as on 26 minutes FCSH picked up a stray pass in midfield and they took the lead with a well struck shot out of Millington’s reach. 0-1
With a quarter of an hour left off the first half a long ball was punted forward and with no FCSH forward in sight Millington came to collect but the ball took a wicked bounce off the hard surface and sailed over him into the empty net. 0-2
This bad luck seemed to galvanise 1874 as both Watkins and Kennerley had great chances to pull one back before half time. However there was still time for FCSH to take a 3 goal lead into the break when a FCSH forward followed up a great parry from Millington to make it 0-3.
1874 made a change at half time with Whelan replacing Watkins and straight from the kick off Lowe put Kennerley through who finished with aplomb. A superb strike which now gave Northwich hope. 1-3
Henry then replaced Hoare and for the next 20 minutes 1874 took the game to FCSH without making a breakthrough. On the half hour Whitlock struck a fantastic direct free kick into the bottom of the corner beating the FCSH goalkeeper all ends up. 2-3, game on.
FCSH were now under the cosh and used all methods to break up the rhythm and pattern of the football 1874 were trying to play. This even included the goalkeeper taking around 3 minutes to put his hair back into a man bun! Slack was running the show with his midfield display and with 10 minutes left Whitlock put in a great ball which just evaded Lowe at the far post. FCSH then had a man sent off for his part in a melee with the clock having gone pat 90 minutes. There was still time for a FCSH player to receive a booking for leaving the pitch to go and talk with his Mum. 5 minutes into added time Lowe had great chance to equalise but put his shot just wide. 1874 still pressed but couldn’t find the goals they needed despite the 10 minutes added time.
1874 finished in very credible third place in the final positions and unlike the two teams above them played every game of the regular season without receiving any walkovers. It is an issue that needs sorting in time for next season.
Team Millington, Hoare, Goodwin, Slack, Moore, Whitlock, Clayton, Lomas, Kennerley (c), Lowe and Watkins
Subs Whelan for Watkins, Henry for Hoare. Unused Leather, Stubbs and Giddins