Foley on the spot to bury the Pitmen
Match Report kindly supplied by: Andrew Simpson, Senior Sports Writer, Mid-Cheshire Guardian series - http://www.northwichguardian.co.uk/sport/
THERE are games that are bad to watch but good to win and this was one of them.
Witton Albion are better than Hednesford Town, and asserted their authority in the second-half to extend an unbeaten run in the Northern Premier League to five matches.
James Foley converted a penalty on 71 minutes, awarded by referee Richie Watkins after he was sent sprawling by Jed Davies, and that was enough to secure another away victory.
A margin between the teams on the scoreboard might have been wider if Rob Hopley’s shot from an acute angle not struck a post at the end of an Albion counter-attack after they had taken the lead. They held Hednesford at arm’s length at the other end of the field, and an eighth shut-out of the season is their reward.
Witton had been less comfortable earlier in the afternoon, their game-plan seemingly affected by the Pitmen making five changes to a side that started a derby drubbing at Stafford. And that disorientation almost cost them in the ninth minute when Davies played a corner short to full-back Nathan Fox and his rising drive was tipped over by goalkeeper Greg Hall.
Albion, who included recent recruit Jordan Cobley from the first minute, had only glimpses of goal. Hopley drilled across the six-yard box after the former Barnton attacker had redirected the ball into his path, while Tom Owens skewed a volley off-target after Ben Bailey’s defensive header dropped kindly.
A heavy pitch, made slippery by overnight rain, cut up badly and players often lost balance when attempted to change direction. The Pitmen created the best chance, and Dan Cockerline’s low shot was kept out by Hall after the striker had spun away from River Humphreys. Hednesford never got that close again.
Carl Macauley adjusted the visitors’ formation during the interval, stationing Cobley in a wide position and moving Owens closer to Hopley. It worked, and Albion gradually took control.
Osebi Abadaki blazed high for Hednesford after a corner was only part-cleared before Witton cut open their hosts for the first time.
Billy Smart’s shot was on target from Hopley’s cut-back but it clattered into Will Jones, who had replaced Cobley, as he tried to get out of the way. The former Marine midfielder, enjoying his best performance in Albion’s colours, started the counter with an interception.
Foley’s moment followed, and he was fouled by a recovering Davies after Hopley had nudged Anthony Gardner’s long throw into his path. The spot-kick, struck into the corner out of custodian Josef Bursik’s reach, increases his goals tally this season to 12.
Hopley’s attempt rapped an upright while Obadaki, hurried, drilled wide from outside the penalty area. By then the Pitmen’s threat had long since been subdued.
In contrast Witton, whisper it, are gathering momentum.
Hednesford | 4-2-3-1 | Bursik (GK), Dawes, Gatter, Bailey, Fox, King, Davies, Dodd (Howard 81), Obadaki (Martin 86), Logan (Archer 65), Cockerline Subs not used Hallahan, Shaw
Witton | 4-4-2 | Hall (GK), Gardner, Humphreys, Wardle, Devine, Smart, Lussey, Owens, Foley, Hopley, Cobley (Jones 54) Subs not used Cesaire, Booth, Yates, Wilson Goal Foley 71 (penalty)
Referee Richie Watkins Attendance 303
Many thanks to Keith Clayton for the match photos.