The Annual West ‘Christmas Miracle’ lived up to its billing as a bumper crowd of 251 witnessed a thrilling 4-2 win overly struggling Winsford United.
West made three changes from the side that exited the Lancashire Trophy on penalties in mid-week as Nic Evangelinos replaced Jonny Poizer, Carlos Mendes Gomes replaced Rick Gleave and debutant Kevin McGrath replaced Paul Socha taking his place alongside Anthony Potts, with Jordan Poole moving to right back.
Buoyed by the occasion the home side were out of the traps early as a Matty Kay corner found McGrath at the far post as his header was cleared off the line after just two minutes. Three minutes later Evangelinos won back possession for West crossing to Kay in the penalty area whose first time effort curled millimetres past the post. West’s early pressure was rewarded on eight minutes when Saul Henderson’s header flicked the ball onto Evangelinos down the right with the winger doing superbly to take on his man and fire a hard cross along the six yard line allowing Kay to stab it home at full stretch. It was Matty Kay’s 9th goal of the season.
West went in search of a second as a 15th minute corner found McGrath whose header was pushed away by Langley in the Winsford goal with Potts managing to hook the loose ball into the path of Mendes Gomes but he flew over from a narrow angle. Winsford responded as goalkeeper Dean Williams was forced to push a hard effort from the edge of the area round the post.
West made it 2-0 on 26 minutes as a Winsford goal-kick was hit straight to Henderson, the young West striker did well to hold off defender Lee Duckworth and power and effort into the bottom right hand corner beyond a helpless goalkeeper. Two minutes later it was 3-0 as Evangelinos and Kay combined before the ball was blocked into the path of Mendes Gomes who fired it beyond Langley clipping the near post before nestling in the back of the net.
Winsford continued to create chances as they refused to give up with Williams pushing another effort round the post after a Winsford free kick had initially been blocked by the wall. Henderson almost added a fourth just before half time but was denied by a good block from the Winsford keeper at his near post.
The second half was barely 20 seconds old before Winsford pulled a goal back through Scott Taylor as a cross deceived Williams and flew into the net. Two minutes later West almost restored their two goal lead as a superb cross from Poole found Henderson unmarked at the far post but he could only head into a grateful Langley’s hands. Seconds later a terrific through ball from Evangelinos released Henderson again but the ball sat up and the West striker fired well over the bar.
Winsford, inspired by the goal, forced Williams into a good save at his near post before creating a triple chance as McGrath and Potts were both called into blocks before Williams dived on a loose ball. The game became an end-to-end affair as McGrath clipped a corner onto the outside of the post following Joe Shaw and Evangelions combining for a quick free kick which saw a goal-bound effort deflected just over. On 54 minutes Winsford had their best chance as a cross to the far post found the striker unmarked but he headed over. The miss was punished in the fullest by West who added their fourth as West combined at the edge of the area and Henderson powered home from 12 yards out.
Possibly with Tuesday’s trip to Glossop in mind Settle rang the changes as Ben Steer and Jonny Poizer replaced Matty Kay and Nic Evangelinos. The two combined immediately as Steer’s long throw found Poizer whose header rolled inches past the post from 6 yards out. On 72 minutes Mendes Gomes broke down the left playing in Henderson and another superb save from Langley denied him his hat-tirck. On 82 minutes he was again denied the hat-trick as he rounded the keeper and from a narrow angle tried to walk it into the goal but was denied on the line by a last-ditch tackle.
With 5 minutes remaining Winsford pulled a goal back when Sam Parr headed home at the far post from a corner. However West weren’t to be denied the three points and were able to see out the last minutes without trouble to record a valuable home win.