West labour to 2-1 win against Nelson
An experimental West team finished with the right result, but failed to spark alight a depleted Brookburn Road on an unseasonably warm Tuesday night.
The Lancashire FA Trophy may offer a realistic chance of silverware for the club this season, but this first round tie drew in a much reduced crowd of 101 following the weekend’s Non League Dog Day antics. Those who did show were treated to a much changed West side, featuring Saul Henderson in a lone striker’s role, supported by the often-missed Rick Gleave, Jimmy Woodward and Georgi Whyment. Elsewhere, Andrew Kilheeny made a start in midfield, alongside Daryl Weston – with Anthony Potts making a long awaited return to the starting eleven also.
The game started off scrappy, and refused to change much from there. West’s best chance came from a series of Woodward corners, which constantly challenged the keeper to make tough clearances under pressure beneath his bar. However, with little else going on, West were undone by a simple ball forward, which a Nelson forward managed to tuck away past a defender in a crowded box midway through the first half. While West toiled, they couldn’t make the breakthrough, with a final touch, pass or killer instinct lacking when their lower division opponents looked most vulnerable. With second left to play, a through ball ricocheted off a defender into the path of Rick Gleave – who had been lively throughout the game – who duly left the keeper with little chance when through one on one to make it level with virtually the last kick of the half.
West came out for the second 45 with more purpose, and Woodward’s probing corner kicks were quickly rewarded with a Daryl Weston header at the far post to make it 2-1. From there, very little happened of note that could’ve changed the course of the game. Both teams made subs, and tried to force the flow of the match in their favour but couldn’t quite make it stick. Most notably, a defensive mistake left Nelson bearing down on goal with only 10 minutes left to go – but Aaron Ashley, stuck as the last line of defence, pulled off one of his now trademark unbelievable saves to keep the West lead. Nelson’s keeper – who had been a good sport to the home fan’s questions and chants all game – went up for a late dead ball, only to be forced immediately back when the cross in eluded everyone in the box.
West’s players were rightly clapped in when the final whistle blew, having fought to the kind of difficult win that has been difficult to come by for the team thus far this season. Nelson looked far from a team who had only won once in the league all season, and their fortunes must surely be due to improve over the coming weeks and months on this display – but it is Settle’s boys who march into the second round, when Lancaster City visit Chorlton – a game that should be much more fiery, and be a much more vigorous test of the side’s mettle.