Rob's Double Topples The Leaders
Match Report kindly supplied by: Andrew Simpson, Senior Sports Writer, Mid-Cheshire Guardian series - http://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/sport/
IT wasn’t supposed to be this straightforward for Witton Albion.
Their guests arrived in town occupying top spot in the table and buoyed by putting five goals past their previous opponents to get them there. The Dabbers left defeated and without leaving even a dent in their hosts’ defence.
Despite ending the contest with a list of attackers on the field, they only called Greg Hall into action when substitute Craig Lindfield scooped an effort into the goalkeeper’s hands in added time. By then Carl Macauley had long pulled down the shutters, sensing that a two-goal lead established by captain Rob Hopley’s brace would be enough to claim maximum points.
It was, and comfortably so. Albion’s manager will have been irked, if only slightly, that his side weren’t out of sight before the front man opened his account for a new season on 27 minutes. He met James Foley’s corner, which dipped at exactly the right moment, with a firm jab of his right foot.
Witton had carved open Nantwich’s defence, shorn of Joel Stair and Louis Barnes after they suffered injuries at the weekend, as early as the eighth minute. A slick interchange left Tom Owens alone with only custodian Will Jaaskelainen to beat, and the midfielder fired straight at him.
Foley’s attempt from the rebound was helped over by the Dabbers’ number one. A second glorious chance followed when Hopley and Foley combined, the latter serving Will Jones who blazed high with a clear sight of goal.
In between, Hall had smothered Callum Saunders’ shot from an angle after the striker had been picked out by Toby Mullarkey’s pass. The visitors conjured their best chance on 33 minutes when Troy Bourne’s lofted ball reached Saunders, and Hall blocked brilliantly. Danny Glover than flashed an acrobatic attempt wide of an upright from Joe Mwasile’s cross.
Witton took control again after the interval, and Hopley planted a firm shot out of Jaaskelainen’s reach to double his side’s lead after a free-kick had been diverted his way.
The visitors responded by sending on Lindfield, although his first contribution was to receive a caution after flattening Foley. Instead Albion looked more threatening, and Bourne’s perfectly-timed block thwarted Jones after James Yates curved a glorious pass into his path.
Nantwich boss Dave Cooke responded by sending on Joe Malkin and Jordan Davies, and switched to a three-man defence. It nearly brought a dividend when the former, a target for Witton after finishing as leading goal-scorer at Cammell Laird last season, flashed a header wide from a James Lawrie corner.
The Dabbers rained crosses into Albion’s penalty area for the game’s remainder, almost all of them collected by Hall. He wanted to claim a second shut-out of the weekend, one that has yielded maximum points for his improving side.
Witton | 4-4-2 | Hall (GK), Yates, Humphreys, Wardle, Devine, Foley, Cesaire, Owens, McKenna, Hopley, Jones (Gardner 80) Subs not used Wilson, Noone, Moore (GK) Goals Hopley 27, 50
Nantwich |4-4-2 | Jaaskelainen (GK), Morgan, Bourne, McDonald (Lindfield 51), Cotterell (Malkin 67), Mwasile (Davies 67), Mullarkey, Hughes, Lawrie, Glover, Saunders Subs not used O’Riordan, Hawkins (GK) Booked Lindfield, Glover (both fouls), Saunders (simulation)
Referee Daniel Hitchell Attendance 357
Match Photographs by Keith Clayton & Karl Brooks Photography