Winning 3-0 at Widnes Vikings, 1874 Northwich ended 2013 by leapfrogging Atherton Collieries and moving into second place in the NWCFL First Division table just one point behind leaders Nelson.
Watched by a crowd of 345, the largest to witness an 1874 game away from the Barton stadium and the biggest crowd in Widnes Vikings’ history, the men in green got off to a flying start, opening the scoring in the first minute. From wide out on the left wing, Stuart Wellstead whipped a low cross into the Vikings goalmouth, evading defenders and attackers alike the ball ended up nestled in the corner of the Vikings net.
Two minutes later top scorer Mike Brandon effectively ended the game as a contest with his 25th goal of the season. Dispossessing Jack Eales, as the Vikings keeper hesitated while trying to clear the ball, Brandon’s original shot, made while he was being brought down by Eales, hit a post. Reacting quickest, Brandon regained his feet to tap the rebound into an empty net.
Relying mainly on long balls over or through the 1874 rearguard, the home side rarely threatened. James Thomas fired a shot just wide in the first half and Ben Toilett shot into the side netting in the second.
1874 continued to press forward going close to adding a third to their tally before half time. Brandon chipped the ball just wide, shortly afterwards Eales cut out a dangerous cross from Wellsted as Brandon waited to pounce. Eales came to his sides rescue in the closing minutes of the first half with an amazing double save. First he saved from Brandon and from the rebound denied Steve Crane turning his close range up shot over the bar.
The second half started with 1874 on the attack and two minutes into the half should have scored. Daley Woods flashed a cross across the face of the Vikings goal. Sliding in at the far post with Eales beaten and the goal at his mercy, with it looking easier to score than miss, Brandon miscued and the ball went wide of the target.
Sloppy play on the Select Security Stadium’s i-pitch which saw 1874 give possession away too cheaply allowed the Vikings to stem the tide and in the 69th minute went close to scoring in a goalmouth scramble as 1874 struggled to clear their lines before scrambling the ball to safety.
With 6 minutes remaining on the clock, substitute Ryan Stewart slipped the ball behind the Vikings defence into the path of Wellstead, who round Eales to shoot home from a tight angle despite the best efforts of a Vikings defender who could only help the ball over the line.
WIDNES VIKINGS – Eales, Davies, Mitchell, McGiveron, Garvey, Colford (Donahue 60mins), Boyle, McCarthy, Thomas, Wilson (Hughes 66mins), Tollitt (Myers 62mins). Subs not used Foster, Pybus.
1874 NORTHWICH – Conkie, Mitchell, Duckworth, Farnworth, Thomas, Crane (Woolley 79mins), Woods (Coffin 86mins) , Jones, Brandon, Bailey(Stewart 60mins), Wellstead. Subs not used Murphy, Bowyer.
GOALS – Wellstead 1min, 84mins. Brandon 3mins.
|Sat 28 Dec 2013||3:00 pm||NWCFL 1st Division||2013/14|
|Select Security Stadium|
|West Stand, Lower House Ln, Widnes WA8 7DZ, UK|
|Club||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals|