POINTS SHARED IN LIVELY ENCOUNTER WITH THE BEARS 1874 NORTHWICH FC 2 V 2 CONGLETON FC
In many ways 1874 could be very much considered to be the “draw specialists” so far this season as they have drawn eight of their opening seventeen fixtures and after succumbing to their first defeat in 90 minutes against Runcorn Linnets last Saturday they were looking to return to winning ways against Congleton with whom they had already drawn a game at home before winning their replay three days later The game started at a frantic pace with both sides trying to establish a strong foothold in the game but in the opening ten minutes real goal scoring opportunities were limited but the opening goal that 1874 very much wanted to set up a good platform arrived after 13 minutes when leading goalscorer Scott McGowan was fouled inside the area and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and McGowan put the kick away with aplomb.
Former 1874 player Neil Chappell was working tirelessly in midfield in an attempt to get his side on level terms but equally for 1874 their midfield of Matt Woolley, Jake Parker and Sam Hind had lots of energy about them and skipper Woolley was constantly urging his side on. The second goal of the game was always going to be an important one and both sides pushed forward at every opportunity and much to the delight of the home supporters it was their team who scored the next goal. Once again it was Scot McGowan on target as he quickly seized on a goalkeeping error by Jones and from 30 yards out he effortlessly drove the ball into the empty net. Half time 2-0 Paul Connor was introduced to the game when he substituted Beadle. It was obvious that the visitors needed to up their game after the interval and just five minutes into the half Peters had a good scoring opportunity but fired his shot straight at Greg Hall. 74 remained much quicker to the ball and were exploiting space as Congleton pushed forward and the first chance to increase their lead came in the 55th minute when more good work by McGowan created a chance for Kennerley but his effort from six yards went well wide. just before the hour mark Congleton made their first substitute replacing Carey with Emini Adegbenro and he was to play an important part in the final half hour for the visitors as with almost his first kick of the game he had a good chance to score but scuffed his shot. 1874 made their second substitute just on the hour mark with Kyle Riley replacing the goalscorer McGowan. 1874 had generally had control of the midfield thanks to the nonstop running of Sam Hind and Jake Parker along with the steadying influence of skipper Matt Woolley. Shortly afterwards, 1874 made their final change when Adam Whitlock replaced Jack Lever and Connor reverted to his normal fullback spot. The duo quickly made an impact on the right flank with Whitlock’s’ pace threatening the Congleton defence. A third goal would have been most welcome for 1874 and after a smart exchange of passes on the right the cross from Whitlock just averted the alert Hind. But it was certainly not all way traffic as Congleton battled well to get back in the game and in the 72nd minute it was only a fantastic save by Hall from O’Reilly that stopped the comeback. But there wasn’t a long wait for the next goal of the game and this arrived from the penalty spot for Congleton after Jackson was adjudged to have handled the ball as he tried to rescue his side after a poorly taken goal kick. Adegbenro made no mistake from the spot. As Congleton searched for another goal the game became somewhat scrappy with niggly fouls from the visitors frustrating 1874’s attacking ideas and in the 85th minute the sides were level when Congleton were awarded a freekick which produced a corner to allow Heaton to score. Sam Hind almost scored a winning goal but his effort just cleared the barr and the final chance of a winning goal in this entertaining game fell to Congleton but a good “goal-saving tackle” from Jackson ensured that the spoils were shared 1874 Hall; Lever; Jackson; Pritchard; Meadowcroft; Parker; Beadle; Woolley; McGowan; Hind & Kennerley – Subs: Connor replaced Beadle (ht); Riley replaced McGowan (59); and Whitlock replaced Lever (63) Congleton Jones; Farnworth; Stevens; Heaton; O’Reilly; Chappell; Hibbert; Foster; Carey; Fletcher & Peters – Subs: Adegbenro replaced Carey (57); Ford replaced Chappell (57) & Cavanagh replaced Hibbert (70) Referee: Dale Baines – Attendance: 240