by Robert Lee · 18/11/2017
Saturday 18th November 2017, NWCFL Premier Division
1874 Northwich 1 (McGowan 69)
The destination was familiar for West – a sixth league defeat in a row and a ninth defeat in ten games against 1874 Northwich – but the journey was a little different. The visitors went back to basics and avoided the sort of recent hammering that has tipped their goal difference into the negative, but were edged out all the same by Scott McGowan’s 17th goal of the season.
This was a mostly uninspiring affair with neither side able to consistently illuminate the Winsford gloom, but that may have been to Steve Settle’s liking after a run of games in which entertainment has usually come at his team’s expense. The home side, though, eked out the majority of the chances and will feel they just about merited a fifth league win of the season, courtesy of McGowan’s poached effort in the 69th minute.
The home fans were buoyant following 1874’s 5-1 FA Vase dismantling of Tow Law Town in midweek, and their side started accordingly. Their first chance may have been unintentional – Adam Whitlock’s free-kick from wide on the left evaded everyone and struck the far post – but moments later Taylor Kennerley broke into the box and forced a save from West debutant Steve Dryden, before McGowan had a first sight of goal when he shot early and wide following an Anthony Potts slip.
West were more resolute than of late, and soon settled – Ash Woods alerted home keeper Greg Hall for the first time when he cut inside from the left and flashed a shot past the far post. But as West found their defensive bearings, referee Alan Bennett’s whistle became the soundtrack of a disjointed half. The home side built up a head of steam as the interval approached, with McGowan, Danny Meadowcroft and Jake Parker all going close, but West went in level at the break, 45 minutes away from their first clean sheet since the end of August.
A fraught second period was a story of three chances. West passed up both of theirs – the returning Ben Steer firing well over with only Hall to beat, and Matty Kay failing to make proper contact on a Woods cross and seeing his effort roll past the far post. In between, the home side devoured their big opportunity. After West only partially cleared a corner, the ball was returned to the far post, and a low cross was tapped in by McGowan from close range.
Steve Settle turned to Adam Hilton and Chappy Massamba in an attempt to rescue a much-needed point, but though West huffed and puffed, the home side had the clearest opportunity to add another goal when Whitlock motored into the box and fired against the inside of the left-hand post. West were awarded a free kick on the halfway line in the fifth minute of injury time, but Potts volleyed the remains well over as West continue to slide down the Premier Division table.
West: Dryden, Mason, Tinker, Hagon, Sergeant, Potts, Steer (Hilton 71), Shaw (Massamba 80), Bailey, Kay, Woods. Not used: Whyment, Weston, Settle.