Two nil down after 35 minutes, 1874 Northwich staged the comeback of the season to beat fellow promotion chasers Hanley Town.
With both Atherton Collieries and Nelson losing at home, although still in 3rd place, 1874 closed the gap on their rivals at the top of the table drawing level on points with Atherton and just one adrift of leaders Nelson.
Both teams went on the attack from the start, with play switching from end to end. The impressive Stuart Wellsted almost drew first blood, but his 10th minute free kick flew just the wrong side of the post. The visitors opened the scoring three minutes later when James Pointon cut in from the left before drilling a shot from the edge of the area into the bottom corner of the 1874 net.
1874’s response was immediate with Rick Bailey drawing a good save from Hanley’s goalkeeper Dane Jackson, who turned the Northwich man’s shot round the post. Jackson followed up by clearing the resulting swinging corner.
Theo Stair doubled the visitor’s advantage in the 35th minute when he scored from the edge of the area having regained his feet, after going to ground under a heavy challenge, to shoot home. Moments before Hanley’s second goal Daley Woods and Mike Brandon had linked up with some good inter play which ended in Brandon heading narrowly wide. The same two players combined in the 42nd minute to throw 1874 a lifeline. Woods cut in from the right, pulled the ball back from the by line into the path of Brandon who smashed the ball home from close range. Two minutes later the scores were tied as Steve Crane raced onto a ball played into the Hanley penalty area from the right to drill a spectacular shot into he back of the visitors net.
Ste Crane curls a shot into the top corner – Image Annie Hilditch
The second half continued in the same open, entertaining fashion as the first half with both sides striving to make the breakthrough and claim the three points. Pointon went close to scoring his second goal of the game in the opening minutes of the second stanza shooting inches wide after racing onto a through ball. Moments later Lee Duckworth came to 1874’s rescue with a perfectly timed tackle from behind to deny Pointon when the Hanley attacker had the goal at his mercy.
1874 struck just before the hour mark. Brandon played Wellsted in behind the Hanley defence, cutting in from the left wing Wellsted drilled the ball back into the goal mouth where Bailey arrived to steer the ball home in the 58th minute. Hanley continued to push forward in search of a way back into the game, but 1874 now in control made the game safe in the 72nd minute. Woods swung a cross from the right wing into the path of Brandon who hammered home his 24th goal of the season to seal a win which 35 minutes earlier had seemed improbable.
Mike Brandon celebrates his second of the day sealing the win for 1874 – Image Annie Hilditch
1874 – Conkie, Mitchell, Stewart, Farnworth, Duckworth, Crane, Woods (Coffin 86mins), Jones, Brandon, Bailey, Wellsted (Murphy 88mins). Subs not used McGregor, Woolley, Bowyer.
HANLEY – Jackson, Evans, Goodall (Lewis), J.Stair, Edwards (Shankland), Machin (Proffit), Morton, Thorpe, Pointon, T.Stair, Vernon. Sub not used Grice.
GOALS – 1874 – Brandon 42, 72. Crane 44, Bailey 58
HANLEY – Pointon 13, T.Stair 35.
MEN OF THE MATCH – 1874 Mike Brandon Hanley Josh Thorpe
Referee Mike Crusham
|Sat 21 Dec 2013
|NWCFL 1st Division