Tames' early penalty is cancelled out by Gordon's leveller
Report by Andrew Simpson, Senior Sports Writer, The Northwich Guardian
AS let-offs go, Witton Albion have had the biggest already.
That isn’t to say they didn’t deserve a share of the spoils from an opening-day draw at Mickleover Sports, because they can make that case.
However everybody’s attention was on one incident after the game. The teams were level at 1-1 midway through the second period when the ball was nudged past goalkeeper Calvin Hare by Tom Burgin - the hosts' captain - at a set-piece.
Michael Wilson prevented a certain goal, but he did so with a forearm after an awkward bounce. Much to the bewildered fury of the home team, none of the match officials – including a perfectly-placed linesman – spotted it.
“It was a penalty,” confirmed Albion boss Carl Macauley afterwards. There was no glee in his reply though. This was a hard-earned point, and he knows the value of it.
Witton’s start, during which Steve Tames converted a second-minute penalty after full-back Kevin Grocott had clumsily felled debutant Alex Newby, was the stuff of dreams. (Thanks to Trev Senior for the photo of ball in net)
Back in the Premier Division after two years away, they had announced their arrival clinically. Sports appeared shaky, and took time to settle.
They served warning that a slumber was over when player-manager John McGrath prompted Hare to save smartly his curling free-kick. He did the same to deny Evan Garnett before Pablo Mills’ skidding header from Andy Dales’ corner rapped the inside of a post.
When Hare scythed down Garnett following a misjudged dash from his line when Mickleover next moved forward, there was a sense Witton were wobbling. They steadied themselves though, led by newly-named captain Anthony Brown, and protected their slender advantage in relative comfort against opponents that were ponderous in possession.
The visitors were denied a second goal straight after the restart when Tames combined neatly with Micah Evans, the latter’s shot smothered by custodian Nick Draper. At the other end, Bradley Grayson’s angled attempt scraped an upright.
Mickleover drew level on 57 minutes when Danny Gordon, a summer signing from Ilkeston, swept in after Jake Scott had wriggled clear of Anthony Gardner before pulling the ball back from the by-line.
Albion remained resilient, and substitute James Foley slipped a pass into Alex Newby’s path. Once again Draper had to produce his best to stop Albion scoring.
Sports were seething when Wilson's intervention went unpunished, denied as they were a spot-kick as well as an opportunity to play against 10 men for the remaining 20 minutes. They took too long to recover their composure, and Dales shanked high from a promising position after gliding away from Gardner. Witton defended with discipline, but still posed a threat.
Paul Williams’ vicious free kick was pushed to safety brilliantly by Draper before a sloppy pass from Tames almost cost his side dear. Scott duly slalomed into a shooting space, only for Hare to deny him after reacting instinctively. He deserved all the high-fives that followed.
Sports | Draper (GK), Grocott, Burgin, Mills, Turner, Gordon (Phillips 77), Dales, McGrath, Scott, Grayson, Garnett Subs not used Morris, Gilhooly, Morrison, Morgan Williams Goal Gordon 57 Booked McGrath, Turner, Scott (all fouls)
Witton | Hare (GK), Gardner, Brown, Wilson, Devine, Evans (Foley 60), Haywood, Williams, Newby (Jones 68), Hopley, Tames Subs not used Ryan, Hinchliffe, Neild (GK), Goal Tames 2 (penalty) Booked Hare, Brown (both fouls)
Referee Richard Watson Attendance 225