In an entertaining encounter at Potteries Park 1874 came back from two-nil down to earn a well deserved point.
The home side started brightly and took the game to 1874 who in all honesty tended to assist their opponents in the opening exchanges by losing possession far too easily and might have found themselves behind in the opening five minutes but their captain Woolley came to the rescue with a couple of timely tackles whilst a Hanley forward wasted a golden opportunity to score in the 4th minute by blasting the ball against the crossbar from close in when it looked as though it was easier to score
However, in the 8th minute Hanley did open the scoring when poor marking at a corner by 1874 allowed the unmarked Keats to easily head the ball home.
Less than ten minutes later Mark Jones – the usual pivotal rock at the heart of the 1874 defence – had to leave the field after an unfortunate clash of heads left him with an injury. He was replaced by substitute Waite-Jackson which resulted in skipper Woolley having to drop back into the back line.
In the 22nd minute 1874 nearly equalised and had they done so the goal may well have been a contender for “goal of the season” as good work by Gardner on the right finished with an inch-perfect cross into the box and with his back to goal McGowan hit a wonderful overhead kick to force a good save from Mellor the home goalkeeper
For the rest of the half both sides were quick to try and get forward as much as possible with the home side favouring a more direct style whilst 1874 tried to gain the advantage with clever build up play which more often than not saw Sam Hare at the heart of operations.
HT 1 – 0
After the interval 1874’s intentions were soon in evidence as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser and whilst they tried hard they couldn’t quite get the required break and the inevitable happened when the home side increased their lead just before the hour mark through Mealey who unleashed an unstoppable 25 yard free kick in to the top of the net giving Rigby no chance to save. This reverse may have resulted in a defeat for 1874 but their never say die attitude once again came to the fore as they set about trying to rescue something from the game.
To everyone’s delight that goal did come when in the 67th minute Taylor Fletcher hit a strong shot that was deflected into goal to give his side hope of getting something from the game.
And this they achieved in the 78th minute when the “ever reliable” McGowan was on hand to equalise by hooking the ball into the net after a shot by Kennerley had rebounded off a post.
HANDY HIND RECLAIMS TOP SPOT
By Garry Clarke
HANLEY TOWN 0-1 1874 NORTHWICH
HSL PREMIER – 17th SEPTEMBER 2016
A solitary second half goal from Sam Hind was enough for 1874 Northwich to claim all three points from their visit to Staffordshire and reclaim top spot in the HSL Premier Division table.
Enjoying the greater share of possession, 1874 dominated the first half while the well organized home side was content to soak up the pressure and hit their visitors on the counterattack.
Hanley goalkeeper Joe Hemmings comfortably saved a long range Scott McGowan free kick and tipped a dangerous in swinging Rick Bailey corner over the bar. Led by their commanding centre half Josh Thorpe, Hanley’s defence held firm dealing with numerous balls played into their area.
Angelo Enrico, Sean Moutfield and Dave McPherson all went close to scoring for the home side but failed to hit the target, while 1874 were indebted to goalkeeper Greg Hall for their goal remaining intact.
In the 16th minute he pulled off an incredible diving save to claw the ball away from his goal after Thorpe had headed goal wards from a corner. Hall quickly regained his feet to push the follow up shot over the bar. He also saved well in the closing minutes of the half to deny Dan Cope.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first.
In the opening minutes of the second half Hanley’s defence managed to scramble the ball away from their goalmouth as Tom Bailey and McGowan closed in on a Hind cross. Enrico sprung 1874’s off side trap shooting narrowly wide and Hind had a shot deflected over the bar.
The decisive moment came in the 75th minute when Stuart Wellstead lofted a free kick into the Hanley area. Two Hanley defenders tried to clear the ball but only succeeded in getting in each other’s way, with one heading the ball against the back of the other’s head. The ball dropped to Hind who smashed it past Hemmings from ten yards.
After McGowan chipped a free kick over the bar, Hanley pushed forward in search of an equaliser but could not find a way past Hall, who was well supported by his defenders.
HANLEY – Hemmings, Grice (Crocott 84), Blowers, Stair, Thorpe, Stanyor, Enrico, McPherson, Mountford, Cope (Ashton 74), Nicholls (Mellor 59), subs not used Skellern, Sheldon.
1874 – Hall, Connor (Chappell 68), Russell, M Woolley, Thomas, Bailey, Wellstead (J Woolley 83), Jones, T Bailey,(Carroll 73) McGowan, Hind. Sub not used Simpson.
GOAL – Hind 75
ATTENDANCE 138 REFEREE Jack Shepherd.
The highest crowd of the season at Abbey Lane witnessed an end to end game between two sides still harbouring hopes of a possible promotion position come the end of the season.
1874 had to start the game without both the suspended Craig Farnworth and the unavailable Danny Thomas and so Duckwoth played alongside Aston whilst Stewart slotted in at full back. David Short started the game up front with top scorer Brandon.
Hanley started the game well and created two good chances but on neither occasion was Conkie troubled as the shots went high and wide past the posts. Sakeel Abdullah was looking sharp for 1874 and only a couple of fouls stopped him from creating good chances for his team mates.
Then in the 12th minute the first goal of the game arrived when 1874 were awarded a free kick just outside the box and after Short’s fierce free kick had been well saved by the home keeper Cawley, Abdullah was first to react and slotted the rebound home from a narrow angle.
The scorer and Matty Ward then started to cause problems for the home side with their pace and trickery but in all fairness, Hanley started to exert pressure on 1874 and several chances were created but once again Conkie wasn’t called upon to make a save as poor finishing cost Hanley dear.
Whilst there was some strong tackling taking place and neither side giving an inch in their quest to secure a victory to keep them in the game and the promotion race it was somewhat disappointing and a surprise that the referee saw fit to make far too many bookings.
At the start of the second half both sides tried to get forward at very opportunity and Conkie made a good save before 1874 increased their lead. Ryan Mitchell had made a good forward run into the home penalty box and after losing the ball it rebounded back to him and as he tried to control the ball he was clearly fouled and the referee correctly awarded a penalty which was expertly converted by Stuart Wellstead in the 58th minute.
However, 1874 didn’t have much time to enjoy their two-goal cushion because in the 62nd minute the lead was reduced as Theo Stair scored after the visiting defence failed to clear the ball despite two defenders seemingly having ample opportunities to do so.
So once again it was “game on” and certainly none of the strong 285 attendance had any thoughts about leaving early.
Hanley created a couple of chances, one of which brought a fine save from Conkie whilst Ward and Abdullah both had half chances for 1874. Then in the 80th minute 1874’s task appeared to get harder when skipper Lee Jones, received a second yellow and so a red followed and his side had to dig in.
Lunn had already replaced Short but then two more changes quickly followed with Bailey replacing Brandon and Woolley coming on for Abdullah as 1874 dug in to protect their narrow lead. This they did to their credit and in the 94th minute they even had a chance to make it 3-1 but the shot went wide.
So 1874 returned to Cheshire with all three points following their steely all round team performance and now look forward to their long trip to play Holker Old Boys on Saturday