Report: Abbey Hulton United 1-3 West

Saturday 9th October 2021, NWCFL First Division South

Abbey Hulton United 1 (Bristow pen 54)
West 3 (Heathcote 3, 10, Elliott 56)
Att: 125

Sam Heathcote’s early double set a platform for West to extend their lead at the top of the First Division South with victory at Abbey Hulton United.

The captain was on target twice in the first ten minutes as Chris Rowley’s side made a blistering start in Staffordshire, before Ben Elliott responded immediately to Joshua Bristow’s second-half penalty to ensure another three points.

This result means West have responded to last month’s momentum-interrupting FA Vase defeat to Parkgate with three straight wins, and the outcome was virtually decided early on as West flew out of the blocks. Oliver Ford’s corner to the near post caught the home side cold, and Heathcote arrived to hammer the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.

Heathcote, who had been going through something of a goal drought having not registered in four games, then helped himself to another seven minutes later. Elliott’s burst into the box was unceremoniously interrupted by an Abbey defender, and Heathcote found the top corner from 12 yards.

At this point it looked as if a rout may have been on the cards, and though Elliott and Heathcote had opportunities to add a third goal, the home side managed to lay enough sandbags to stem the flood. At the other end, Andrew Jones was relatively untroubled but saw a low shot fly across goal as the home side looked for a foothold.

After the break, however, Abbey did threaten to punish West for their failure to add a third goal. Heathcote was ruled to have handled in the area, and home captain Bristow found Jones’ bottom-right corner to halve the deficit.

But any jangling nerves among the away support were settled inside 120 seconds, as Abbey keeper Luke Birkinshaw could only kick as far as Elliott on the halfway line. The West striker ran clear and assuredly rounded Birkinshaw to restore West’s two-goal cushion.

Substitutes James Cottee and Liam Delaney went close to adding a fourth goal, but though Abbey had an effort cleared off the line in the final few moments, West saw out a result that stretches their lead at the top of the table to three points.

West: A. Jones, Cook, Hancock, C. Jones (Delaney 63), Dibble, Heathcote, Matthews (Cottee 76), Gavin, Elliott, Ford, Grewal (Eme 63). Not used: Westall, Swift.

Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Sam Heathcote.

Chris Rowley post-match reaction