Only goal of the game condemns Witton to 5th straight loss
Match Report kindly supplied by: Andrew Simpson, Senior Sports Writer, Northwich Guardian http://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/sport/
THERE was a moment late in the second half when Witton Albion manager Carl Macauley could be forgiven for thinking his team’s luck had changed.
Jordan Graham, making his debut as a substitute for Hednesford, did not make a clean contact with a strike on goal. It took a wicked deflection off a defender, and the ball struck an upright with the visitors’ goalkeeper Calvin Hare unable to intervene. That would have been a cruel way for a four-match losing run to become five.
Instead the Pitmen plundered a winner from their best move of the match two minutes later.
Graham moved the ball to captain Tom Thorley, and his measured pass sent Tyler Weir, overlapping on the home team’s left, into the clear.
He did not break stride, and steered a shot where Hare could not reach it. It was a moment of rare quality.
Albion attempted to muster a response, and James Foley’s strike flashed wide of the target via the slightest of touches from a back-marker.
That was as close as they got to scoring though.
If more than six hours without a goal is a concern, it is secondary to a sequence of six defeats in the past seven matches.
Carl Macauley recalled Michael Wilson to restore a five-man backline that had served his side so well during August. They appeared more steady, although the added stability – certainly in the contest’s early stages – felt fragile.
The visitors banked therefore on set-pieces as a way to plunder a goal. It almost worked, and Rob Hopley failed to control a volley when Nick Ryan nudged a header his way from Anthony Gardner’s long throw.
Tom Owens teed up Steve Tames, but James Mutton reacted swiftly to block the striker’s low shot.
Hednesford were similarly short on ideas, although the speed of front man Edjidja Mbunga forced Witton’s defenders to stay on alert.
He shot straight at Hare after cutting inside Anthony Brown before repeating the trick, this time prompting Albion’s custodian to block at his near post.
Hare also parried a snapshot from Mutton in the seconds before half-time.
The Pitmen enjoyed a prolonged spell of pressure after the interval, although it consisted almost entirely of corners punctuated by Ben Bailey launching throws into their penalty area.
Ryan limped off too with a thigh problem, forcing a reshuffle that Macauley admitted afterwards he didn’t want to make.
Will Jones reacted smartly to redirect Mbunga’s header to safety, then Thorley’s drive stung Hare’s palms.
At the other end, a counter-attack by the away team ended with Jones’ well-struck drive nestling in the side-netting.
On course for a draw, which defensively at least they can make a case they merited, Witton breathed a sigh of relief when Graham’s diverted shot clattered a post. The respite was only brief though, and Weir’s first goal for Hednesford proved to be decisive.
Pitmen | 3-5-2 | Wren (GK), Mutton, Oki (Fitzpatrick 72), Bailey, Melbourne, King, Thorley, Collins (Graham 61), Weir, Mbunga (Butlin 74) & Glover. Subs not used: Steele & Veiga (GK). Goal: Weir 79. Booked: Glover, King, Bailey & Melbourne (all fouls)
Witton | 5-3-2 | Hare (GK), Gardner, Wilson, Brown, Ryan (Jones 50), McKenna (Devine 57), Owens, Williams, Foley, Tames (Haywood 67) & Hopley. Subs not used: Hedley & Neild (GK). Booked: Brown (foul)
Referee Matthew Law Attendance 457