by Robert Lee · 23/01/2022
Saturday 22nd January 2022, NWCFL First Division South
West 4 (Elliott 4, Hill og 58, Davis 76, Heathcote 85)
Abbey Hulton United 1 (Pope 49)
West extended their lead at the top of the First Division South with a comprehensive win over Abbey Hulton United.
Following Tuesday night’s win at Brocton, there was an element of history repeating itself as Ben Elliott headed West’s first goal and then forced an own goal that put Chris Rowley’s side ahead. But despite Dan Cope’s leveller just after the restart, further strikes from Rhain Davis and Sam Heathcote ensured that the West support’s nerves were a little less shredded than they were in Staffordshire.
The Brookburn Road faithful were congregating for the first time in 2022, but didn’t have to wait long for a goal as the home side started at a thunderous pace. Harry Cain was the architect, as his wicked cross from the right wing gave Elliott a perfect opportunity to head West in front.
West had raced into an early two-goal lead in October’s reverse fixture, but on this occasion Abbey were able to keep within touching distance despite Cain twice going close in the first period – crashing a shot off the bar in stoppage time – and Elliott poking wide from the edge of the box.
That failure to add a second goal was punished four minutes after the interval, as the prolific Pope seized on a through ball before rounding Andrew Jones and slotting into the empty net.
Pope’s leveller jolted West into life and the home side were back in front within nine minutes. Lee Gavin’s fierce drive from the edge of the box was pawed away by Abbey keeper Dominic Kurasik, and when Elliott returned the ball into the box, defender Zak Hill could only redirect it into his own net.
West were now comfortably on top, and Dontai Gabidon could have added a third when he shot off-target from promising positions. But a third goal was in the offing and it was Rhain Davis who grabbed his fifth of the season with 14 minutes remaining – more excellent play from Elliott created an opening, and when Gabidon’s shot was charged down, the West number 10 was on hand to snaffle the opportunity.
Heathcote added gloss to the scoreline in the closing stages, instinctively prodding Cain’s low drive past the wrong-footed Kurasik.
Chris Rowley’s side, who move five points clear at the top of the table, have now scored 16 goals in four consecutive wins as they gear up for next week’s crunch clash at second-placed New Mills.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Westall, C. Jones, Dibble, Heathcote, Cain (Swift 87), Gavin (Ryan 78), Elliott, Davis, Gabidon (Hancock 83). Not used: Delaney, Eme.
Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Tom Westall.