by Robert Lee · 03/08/2021
Monday 2nd August 2021, NWCFL First Division South
Stockport Town 0
West 1 (Elliott 63)
West moved to two wins from their first two games of the season thanks to Ben Elliott’s second-half goal at Stockport Town.
Elliott’s well-taken strike just after the hour secured a richly-deserved three points for Chris Rowley’s side, who dominated from the first whistle at Stockport Sports Village and were under far less pressure than the slender scoreline suggests.
This was a more open encounter than Saturday’s season opener, an attritional 2-1 win at Alsager Town, but the search for an opening goal threatened to become a frustrating one before Elliott’s intervention, assisted by the superb Jack Ryan. Elliott then rattled the crossbar as West looked to quell any jangling nerves in the away support, but one goal was enough for a first competitive win at Stockport Sports Village.
Chris Rowley gave Marcus Dibble and Billy Matthews their first starts of the season following suspensions, and Matthews was integral as West made a quickfire start. Rhain Davis forced Town keeper Joshua Schofield into a reaction stop inside ten minutes, before Matthews fired narrowly wide of the near post and Matthew Cook and Lee Gavin took turns to sting Schofield’s palms from outside the box.
The clearest chance of the opening period fell to Elliott eight minutes before the interval – Ryan’s quick feet opened up space for the West number 9, but Schofield got down low to his right to shovel the shot away and ensure the sides entered the dressing rooms level.
West continued to dominate territory after the restart but more chances came and went, with Aarron Grewal inches away from a spectacular opener after combining with Sam Heathcote on the edge of the box. The visitors’ momentum then appeared to be stalled as cramp forced Matthews off, only for Elliott to relieve the building tension shortly afterwards.
Ryan was chief architect, first winning the ball inside the centre circle then driving forward and playing a perfect pass into Elliott’s path. The West forward had work to do with a Town defender between him and the goal, but he assuredly switched the ball onto his right foot before burying a shot past Schofield.
The same combination almost doubled West’s lead seven minutes later, but Elliott’s fierce drive shook the crossbar with Schofield beaten. If there were any fears that Town would punish West for missed chances, they were unfounded as the visitors looked far more likely to add another goal.
Grewal and substitute Joel Swift both went close in the dying embers and though Andrew Jones’ spectacting was briefly interrupted when he had a punch a Town set-piece clear in stoppage time, West comfortably saw out the result to ensure this was a highly satisfactory night’s work.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Hancock, Gavin, Dibble, Heathcote, Matthews (Swift 62), Davis, Elliott (Westall 84), Ryan (C. Jones 74), Grewal. Not used: Tinker, Eme.
Post-match reaction from Chris Rowley: