Best ever victory at Stafford sees Albion rise to 3rd.
Match Report kindly supplied by: Andrew Simpson, Senior Sports Writer, Northwich Guardian
IF supporters were worried about Witton Albion’s low goals tally, they need not have been.
While defences as charitable as Stafford’s are in short supply at this level, it can be no coincidence that a decision by manager Carl Macauley to start with all his forwards – Rob Hopley, Will Jones and Steven Tames – has raised his side’s attacking threat. They each helped themselves to a goal here. Together that trio swatted aside their hosts with embarrassing ease, scoring three times in the first half before taking the second off. It was that sort of afternoon!
Boro, beaten now in five of their past six Northern Premier League matches at Marston Road, might have made it uncomfortable had Richard Gregory not fluffed their best chance shortly after the interval. Picked out by Samuel Griffiths’ cross, the striker’s connection – wayward and unconvincing – was a neat metaphor for his side’s display. To list Rangers’ inadequacies would be to miss the point though, for they were beaten by a better team!
Stafford were deflated inside 10 minutes, when Nick Ryan’s lofted pass caught out full-back Kai Davis. Steve Tames took advantage, and slipped a cute finish past goalkeeper Adam Whitehouse at his near left post.
A second goal almost followed when James Foley combined with Jones on the left, and Boro’s custodian reacted instinctively to parry defender Mat Bailey’s attempt to intercept the latter’s driven cross.
Gregory then shot feebly, when he had the merest glimpse of goal, after strike-partner Dan Westwood had nudged a bouncing ball into his path. Albion looked likely to create a chance every time they poured forward, particularly down the sides of a Stafford defence offered next to no protection by those in front.
Will Jones stooped to double the visitors’ lead, redirecting Michael Wilson’s header after Foley’s free-kick reached him at the back post. Prince Haywood deserved better than for his curling free-kick to strike the underside of the crossbar, but Witton were not to be denied.
Their third goal, in the seconds before half-time, was taken directly from a counter-attacking textbook. Foley won a tackle on the edge of his penalty area, and passed swiftly to Ben Hedley. In turn, he invited Matty Devine to maraud down the left flank. The latter’s cross, delivered straight to a gleeful Rob Hopley’s head inside the six-yard box, was the perfect assist.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Witton were slow to start again after the interval. Gregory ought to have made them sweat, but he failed even to hit the target from close range. Any lingering hope of a recovery evaporated at that moment. Manager Neil Kitching sent on three substitutes at the same time after an hour, but their impact was barely noticeable.
Albion cruised, and became sloppy at times, although that gave Macauley a chance to give a breather to Wilson and Haywood while they nursed knocks. His players rose from a slumber for long enough to add gloss, Steve Tames steering Jones’ pass past an exposed Whitehouse late on.
Whisper it for now, but Albion are up to third in the Northern Premier League table.
Stafford | 4-4-2 | Whitehouse (GK), Griffiths, Morris, Bailey, Davis, Briscoe (Thomas 60), Langston, Batchelor, Sherratt (Izak Reid 60), Gregory (Fortnam-Tomlinson 60) & Westwood. Subs not used: Levi Reid, Geohaghon Booked: Griffiths, Morris (both fouls), Batchelor (ungentlemanly conduct)
Witton | 4-4-2 | Hare (GK), Wilson (Gardner 68), Brown, Ryan, Devine, Tames, Haywood (Williams 77), Hedley, Foley, Jones (Greenop 85) & Hopley. Subs not used: Evans, Neild (GK) Goals Tames 10, 84 Jones 35, Hopley 45 Booked: Wilson, Haywood, Brown (all fouls)
Referee Nik Storey Attendance 445
CARL Macauley hailed Witton Albion’s attacking players following a 4-0 thrashing of Stafford Rangers, but not because of their goals.
He told the Guardian the contribution of Rob Hopley, Will Jones and Steven Tames without the ball at their feet enabled him to pick all three in the starting line-up for the past two games.
“They’re so strong out of possession,” he reflected afterwards. “Their work-rate is there for everybody to see, and they close down space quickly.
It’s something we spend time in training trying to get right so that every individual knows what they should be doing and where they should be stood on the field. Of course, those three get us our goals and they were clinical in a way they perhaps weren’t in midweek. It made a big difference.
We wanted to carry on from where we had left off against Marine, and I felt we did by starting at a high tempo. Those boys have delivered another fantastic performance away from home, and I’d rate it as being one of the best in my time in charge.
Our goalkeeper Calvin Hare has had very little to do, and the lads in front of him deserve credit for that. It’s inevitable when you’re 3-0 up that you relax, and our passing wasn’t as sharp as it should be in the second half. That invited them to attack us, although we were never in any trouble.”