MATCH REPORT | Alsager Town 1-2 West
Saturday 4th January 2020, NWCFL First Division South
Alsager Town 1 (Archer 57)
West 2 (Blackwell 20, Cottee 45)
West began the new year on a winning note with a valuable three points at Alsager Town.
George Blackwell and James Cottee gave Chris Rowley’s side a deserved lead at the break, and though West’s momentum was checked by George Archer pulling a goal back and a series of injury-enforced substitutions, it proved enough to secure a first league win on the road since September.
The home side came into this game in more confident mood, winning both games since the appointment of new manager Stuart Tulloch, but there was little to choose between the teams in a scrappy opening period which saw three bookings in the first 30 minutes. But West began to seize the initiative and after Rhain Davis was adjudged to have beaten the Bullets’ offside trap, he squared to Blackwell who had an easy opportunity to score his second goal in as many games.
Blackwell then passed up a half-chance as West looked for another goal, narrowly prodding a through-ball wide of the far post, but an ultimately decisive second did arrive on the stroke of half time. Matt Eckersley’s clearance on the edge of his own box turned into a perfect pass for Cottee, who shrugged off an Alsager defender before clinically finding the bottom corner.
Things were going perfectly for West and Rowley, but the first bump in the road arrived during the half-time interval – Davis, impressive in central midfield alongside the returning Lee Gavin, was forced off with a knock and replaced by Dylan Moloney. Though Moloney was instrumental as West started the second half brightly, the home side grew into the game and pulled a goal back just before the hour – Archer lurking at the far post to tap home a cross from the right wing.
West’s injury problems mounted as Eckersley limped off in the aftermath of Archer’s goal, with Chris Middleton his replacement. The Bullets should have equalised four minutes later when a shot from inside the area was sent wildly over Andrew Jones’ bar, but West were on the right side of another offside call with 20 minutes remaining when Archer saw a strike ruled out by the assistant’s flag. The visitors, though, had to see out the final 17 minutes without Zac Cooper, who became the third West player to exit due to injury.
But Rowley’s side, with substitute Dontai Gabidon slotting in at left-back, saw out the final moments in relative comfort to draw a line under a difficult festive period and make a step in the right direction in pursuit of the First Division South top four.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Cooper (Gabidon 73), Tinker, Heathcote, Eckersley (Middleton 60), Davis (Moloney ht), Gavin, Cottee, Miller, Blackwell. Not used: Boland, Hall.