by Robert Lee · 11/08/2021
Tuesday 10th August 2021, NWCFL First Division South
West 2 (Elliott 44, Heathcote 87)
New Mills 2 (Lowe 46, Bevan 60)
Sam Heathcote’s late equaliser preserved West’s unbeaten league record after a second-half New Mills turnaround.
West held a deserved lead at the break through Ben Elliott’s goal, but the Millers were a different side after the break and led inside an hour through Benito Lowe and Joe Bevan. Heathcote proved to be West’s talisman again though, stooping to convert a corner with three minutes remaining.
Chris Rowley asked for his players to respond following Saturday’s disappointing FA Cup exit, and he got his wish in an impressive first half. Aarron Grewal shot straight at Millers keeper Dylan Forth after six minutes, before Heathcote went close with a pair of free kicks.
The lively Billy Matthews then went close to a remarkable opener when he collected the ball in the left channel and wriggled his way past two challenges, along the byline and into the box, but ran out of room just as he was about to prod the ball towards goal.
That signalled the end of a fast-paced initial period but just as it looked as though the teams would go into the break level, Elliott opened the scoring. Heathcote’s free kick towards the left wing was nodded into space by Aarron Grewal, and Elliott latched onto the ball, slipped past a defender and rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
Elliott’s goal should have been the signal for West to seize the momentum after the break, but the second half was a mirror image of the first with the Millers dominant. Within 60 seconds they were level, as a move down the right wing ended with Lowe’s finish from close range.
Andrew Jones then pawed away a half-volley as the visitors continued to threaten, but the Millers weren’t to be denied a second as Joe Bevan’s snap shot sneaked past the West keeper on the hour mark.
West belatedly came to life and Rhain Davis’s shot from the edge of the box was tipped over with 14 minutes to go. Heathcote was then pushed up front in search of a crucial leveller, and the West captain grabbed his fourth goal of the season when he nodded home Callum Jones’ corner.
The Millers were now the team hanging on, and Jack Ryan had a last-gasp opportunity to ensure West became the only team in the First Division South to take nine points from three games. The West substitute shot over, though, and Chris Rowley’s side head to Cheadle Heath Nomads on Saturday as one of six sides on seven points.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Hancock, C. Jones, Dibble, Heathcote, Matthews (Swift 65), Gavin (Ryan 17), Elliott (Westall 82), Davis, Grewal. Not used: Delaney, Tinker.
Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Man of the Match: Billy Matthews.