MIKE Brandon came to the rescue to secure a point for 1874 Northwich in a historic first league game attended by a bumper Barton Stadium crowd.
The forward’s equaliser was an instant response after John Greenwood had given Oldham the lead, much to the delight of the away team. Little suggested Oldham, nicknamed Town, would take the lead in a match which 1874 largely controlled with the creation of a number of chances.
Before the game, a minute’s applause for local football legend Phil Gee was impeccably observed after the players from both sides were given a rapturous welcome from the 490 strong crowd.
Not long later, the game kicked off, and it was 1874 that made the brighter start with a number of testing balls from Steve Crane coming to nothing.
The early pressure continued, and fans were to witness one of the most eventful periods of the match when Town cleared off the line twice.
The first goalmouth block came from a Ryan Stewart corner on 15 minutes which was swung in but only half-cleared to Lee Hendley, who saw his shot from the edge of the penalty box cleared emphatically off the line by the head of Town captain Andrew Smith.
Four minutes later, 1874 were again denied when a cross was parried away by goalkeeper Gareth Fleming straight into the path of Brandon, who saw his shot from close range bundled off the line, as it was about to creep into the bottom corner.
The 1874 supporters were soon gasping for breath again on 27 minutes when once again Brandon was to be denied by the superb Fleming.
The move came when Brandon connected to Dean McGregor’s cross with a looping header seamlessly heading for the top corner, only for Fleming to fingertip the ball expertly over the bar.
After a breathless spell, Town settled down and came into the game a little, creating some dangerous breaks on the counter-attack.
One such break saw Lee Hendley dispossessed in the midfield by Joseph Heap, who sent a long ball straight to the feet of Scott Highton.
With work to do, Highton brushed aside Lee Duckworth and saw his deflected shot from the edge of the area go narrowly wide in Town’s best chance of the half.
The second-half started in the same pulsating fashion as the first period, and it was 1874 that remained in control.
However, they were restricted to a sole long range effort from Crane in a 15 minutes where neither side created any clear-cut openings.
That was soon to change when the home side were again denied by a fantastic stop from Fleming.
This time Anthony Marshall won a free-kick having been fouled by Nick Murphy.
Despite the anticipation, Marshall struck straight into the wall, only for Adam Foy to send the ball back in at the far post to Brandon, whose header was once again tipped over the bar by Greenwood.
At this point, the feeling in the ground was that a goal was only a matter of time for 1874, but the script was soon changed when Town took a lead that stunned the home faithful.
The goal came when a cross from the lively Heap was struck powerfully past 1874 keeper Matt Conkie by midfielder John Greenwood on 61 minutes.
The lead was not to last long, three minutes long to be exact.
The hero, Brandon, the scorer of 7 goals in pre-season, swept home a low cross into the bottom corner to equalise after good work from McGregor saw him skip past Deakin and cross from the left-hand side.
Brandon did the rest.
Sensing 1874 could win, manager Ian Street brought on speedy wide man Phil Coffin with 68 minutes gone, but the game somewhat petered out.
In fact, it was Town who nearly won the match on 83 minutes when a mistake from centre-back Danny Thomas gifted the ball to Highton, who should have done better than shoot wide after finding himself one-on-one with Conkie.
Both teams tried to find the goal that would win the game without luck until referee Stephen Jones put an end to a historic first game for 1874 Northwich.
Next up for 1874 is an away match at Irlam on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm.
1874 Northwich FC: Conkie (GK), Mitchell, Stewart, Thomas, Duckworth, Foy (C), Hendley, Crane, Brandon, Marshall, McGregor
Substitutes: McKay, Coffin (Hendley, 68), Lewis, Bowyer, Leake
Goal: Brandon (64)
Oldham Boro: Fleming (GK), Deakin, Alexsandra, Schofield, Smith (C), Kershaw, Greenwood, Murphy, Heap, Highton, Knowles
Substitutes: Adams, Whiteside, Chadwick
Goal: Greenwood (61)
Booked: Greenwood (62)
Referee: Jonathan Broadhurst
Assistant Referee: Stephen Jones, Peter Rapaport.
|Sat 3 Aug 2013||3:00 pm||NWCFL 1st Division||2013/14|
|St Lukes Barton Stadium|
|The Barton Stadium, Wharton Rd, Winsford CW7 3AE, UK|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|
|#||Player||Yellow Cards||Red Cards||Goals|
|Mike Brandon||0||0||1 (64')|
KO 64 68 FT