The H-Force downs the Gladiators
By Phil Chadwick
Ben & Rob produce the strikes
Witton consolidated their 9th place in the league with a fairly comfortable win when completing the season’s double over their Derbyshire opponents.
Having established a well deserved two goal cushion, as they did in the corresponding fixture last season, Greg Hall’s sixth penalty save midway through the second half crucially ensured the Gladiators didn’t get sufficient impetus to haul themselves back into contention unlike that previous outing.
Albion took the lead in the 10th minute when an Anthony Gardner throw in from the right knocked forward by Hopley saw Ben Harrison, with his back to goal, produce a back heel that caught keeper Ross Durrant flat footed thus notching the central defender, in his final loan spell match, a very impressive fourth goal in the 5 league matches he’s played in!
Rob Hopley went close to extending Albion’s lead in the 34th minute sending his shot wide of the right upright.
From a Danny McKenna corner kick Hopley headed over whilst another Gardner throw-in, this time from the opposite flank saw Tom Owens attempt fail when he tried to replicate Harrison’s back flick.
The home team, much to the exasperation of their fans, fairly laboured to get any flow to their moves and only a fairly tame effort by Michael Williams caused Hall to make a save of any note in the opening half. In first half stoppage time McKenna picked up a yellow card from referee Luke Watson when kicking the ball away.
Witton maintained their momentum after the interval and gained their two goal advantage just three minutes in when Rob Hopley drew level with Jay Foley by heading home his 15th goal of the season from a perfectly flighted McKenna corner from the right.
Town, who’d been forced to substitute Durrant at half-time, were grateful to the left knee of his replacement Jordan Pierrepont otherwise Hopley would have made it three on 54 minutes after the striker had sprinted clear of the defenders.
Williams who again had at least tested Hall was somewhat surprisingly substituted on the hour mark and four minutes later Town’s final substitution was made by manager Dave Frecklington as he looked to get his side back in the game.
Josh Wardle’s push on a home player did bring them a quick opportunity in the 68th minute only for Hall to once again show what an excellent penalty shot stopper he is by firstly blocking Craig Westcarr’s spot-kick and then collect the ball from the follow up attempt.
Hall though was given very little chance to stop substitute Nyle Blake’s 77th minute shot that at least brought slight “squeaky bum” time but apart from one hectic moment, when half the players seemed to be on or around Albion’s goal-line, then the points weren’t really in danger.
The introduction of Matty Devine, after recovering from his dislocated shoulder, was a bonus and a pleasant sight for the travelling Wittoners who once again really showed they how much they enjoy their trips to Causeway Lane.