by Robert Lee · 22/04/2019
Monday 22nd April 2019, NWCFL Premier Division
West 4 (Howarth 29, 86, Horner 52, Hall pen 75)
Abbey Hey 2 (Hopkins pen 23, Zuccotti 32)
Brookburn Road had the familiar sensation of being put through the wringer but West came from behind twice to beat Abbey Hey and take their survival battle to the last day of the season.
Abbey held the lead at half time as Daniel Hopkins and Luca Zuccotti scored either side of Ramirez Howarth’s leveller. But with West staring relegation in the face, they rallied after the interval and claimed a third successive win thanks to Tom Horner, a Stephen Hall penalty and a spectacular second from Howarth.
After Saturday’s 4-0 win at relegation rivals Litherland REMYCA, this capped a superb Easter period for David Powell’s side who appear to be peaking just in time, scoring eleven goals in their last three games.
But the scenario looked very different after a frustrating first period that saw Abbey take the lead from the spot. Will Jones upended a visiting attacker in the box and Hopkins sent the West keeper the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
West hit back six minutes later through an excellent finish from Howarth, who collected the ball on the right-hand side of the box and cut inside before whipping a shot across the goalkeeper. But just as the home side looked to seize the momentum, Abbey retook the lead as Zuccotti converted a right-wing free kick.
Results elsewhere were going West’s way with their relegation rivals falling behind, but that would mean nothing if they were unable to overturn their deficit. As such they flew out of the dressing room and were back level with seven minutes of the restart, with Horner powering home a header from a Hall corner.
West were well on top at this point with Jamie Coombes proving a constant thorn in the Abbey side, but they had to wait until the 75th minute to make the decisive breakthrough. The home side had seen three goals ruled out by the assistants’ flags, but their luck was in when Danny McLaughlin’s shot was adjudged to have struck a visiting hand. Stephen Hall assumed responsibility for a kick to keep West’s survival hopes alive, but showed no nerves as he comfortably found the top corner.
Howarth added an exclamation mark with four minutes to go when, after the Abbey keeper had strayed from his line, the West winger seized on a loose ball and sent it back with interest from 50 yards to send Brookburn Road into delirium.
West saw out the remaining minutes to ensure that they have a final chance to salvage what has been a difficult season in what promises to be a nerve-shredding final-day Brookburn Road meeting with Ashton Athletic.
West: Jones, Tinker, Miranda, Eckersley, Horner, Eiselt, Coombes (Uchegbulam 84), Cooper (Peach ht), Howarth, Hall, McLaughlin (Meylan 90). Not used: Burgess, Henry.