West made it five wins from five as a youthful side earned a hard fought 3-1 victory on a sunny evening at Winsford United.
With West’s third game in five days taking its toll on the squad West started with five players under the age of 22 as Ben Steer retained his place in the starting line-up, Georgi Whyment regained his and there was a first senior start for Jimmy Woodward. In addition there was a first start of the season since the opening day for Michael Simcock whilst Jordan Poole was recalled to the starting line-up with 18 year old Paul Earlan making his appearance on the bench. The injury list wasn’t exclusive to the playing squad as Manager Steve Settle and Assistant Manager Rob Madden missing the trip through illness with Head Coach Stephen Brockley and Steve Eckersley taking charge of the team.
The home side started brightly, on the back of their 2-0 win against Nelson on Monday night, and Cotterall almost scored inside the first 60 seconds as he forced Aaron Ashley into an early save at his near post on the left hand side. Five minutes later Ashley was called into action again as long range shot was driven towards goals and pushed away by Ashley who then did superbly to block the rebound.
West responded and their first chance came on 11 minutes as Scott Mason’s free kick was curled just over the bar. West grew into the game and a good passing move saw Matty Kay unlock the Winsford defence but his final through ball was just over hit for Ash Woods. West thought they’d led on 20 minutes when Steer, chasing down the goalkeeper, blocked a clearance before recovering the ball and picking out Whyment with his cross who volleyed home only for the offside flag to be given.
A minute later West went close again as a wonderful West move through the middle finished with Woodward feeding Whyment with a through ball but his shot was well blocked from Langley in the Winsford goal. The respite was brief and from the resulting throw in by Steer; Ash Woods out jumped his man to head home into the bottom left hand corner for his 18th goal of the season.
Winsford refused to give in and two minutes later they broke the West offside trap and Ashley was again called into make a save one-on-one. The game became end-to-end as both teams elected to clip it long on the bobbly surface and on 26 minutes a great through ball from Kay found Steer but Langley did superbly to race off his line and claim the ball. On 31 minutes another flick on, this time from Woods, put Steer through again but this time Langley was able to parry his shot amid claims of handball outside the area from the West travelling supporters.
At the other end substitute Jordan Johnson, replacing the injured former West player Dave Short, cannoned a hard effort of the crossbar on 34 minutes. A minute later he thought he had scored when Ashley produced a world class to save to push another rocket of an effort onto the bar before reacting quickly to claim the loose ball off the line whilst Johnson celebrated thinking he’d scored. A real let off for West to ensure that the they went into the half ahead.
West started the second half brightly, eager to ensure they took full advantage of their reprieve and almost doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Ash Woods header from a corner was saved just under the crossbar from Langley. A minute later Woods turned provider as a sensational cross field pass picked out Woodward on the right whose superbly waited cross to the unmarked Steer allowed the striker to head home and double West’s lead.
That was West’s 100th league goal of the season but they weren’t finished and two minutes later a huge clearance from a Winsford corner allowed Steer to race through one-on-one and roll a cool effort into the bottom right hand corner for his 9th goal of the season. It was almost 4-0 a minute later as a superb pass from Woodward picked out Kay on the left whose first time effort found Woods across goal but he fired over when it was easier to score.
West rang the changes as Paul Earlan and Stephen Brockley both made appearances alongside Kevin McGrath who’d raced from parents evening for a second half substitute’s appearance. It was a big moment for the 18 year old who was making his first appearance in the first team becoming the second player this season to represent West as 1st, Reserve and Youth team level.
Winsford, to their credit, didn’t give up and finally pulled a goal back when Johnson barged through the West defence and rolled a low effort into the bottom right hand corner on 79 minutes. A minute later West reacted quickly to clear a corner off the line.
However despite some late pressure West saw out the game comfortably to lift themselves back above Padiham into 6th.