by Robert Lee · 05/09/2021
Saturday 4th September 2021, NWCFL First Division South
West 5 (Elliott 23, 72, 84, Gabidon 34, Delaney 89)
Brocton 1 (Jackson 35)
Ben Elliott’s hat-trick inspired West to a fifth successive win as Brocton were beaten at Brookburn Road.
Elliott’s treble, taking his tally to nine for the season, was interspersed with goals from Dontai Gabidon and Liam Delaney as West strengthened their position in the First Division South leading pack.
Brocton will look back on a period after Cameron Jackson halved the decifit where they could have gone in level at the break, but an assured second-half performance meant that West were deserved winners.
West came into the game having scored 15 goals in their previous four matches, but chances were initially hard to come by – Marcus Dibble’s off-target header the only opportunity to speak of in the opening exchanges.
However, Chris Rowley’s side grew into the game and opened the scoring midway through the first period. Elliott showed his predatory instincts to snaffle his first goal, swivelling to convert after a corner had been nodded back into the danger area.
Dontai Gabidon doubled the advantage 11 minutes later with his first goal of the season – the West number 11, starting in his familiar position on the left wing, scored in vintage style as he cut past a defender on his right foot and curled a shot beyond the reach of visiting keeper Corey Mallon.
But just as against Maine Road last time out, West were pegged back from a strong position. Barely 60 seconds had passed since Gabidon’s goal when the Badgers hauled themselves back into the game, Jackson nodding home after Andrew Jones had saved his initial effort.
Jackson’s goal signalled the start of a nervy period for the home side as Brocton looked to draw themselves level. A header was sent narrowly over before a low ball from the right fizzed across the face of goal, but West were able to get to the interval in the driving seat.
That proved to be crucial as West ran away with the game in an excellent second half. Elliott served notice of intent immediately after the restart, firing just over Mallon’s bar. But it was the introduction of Billy Matthews just before the hour that was to prove pivotal.
Matthews, appearing from the bench for the first time this season after eight consecutive starts, replaced Josh Tinker and immediately almost scored a sensational goal, twisting past Brocton defenders in the box before the ball was smuggled away.
He did claim his first assist of the afternoon with 18 minutes remaining, as West scored a crucial third goal. Matthew Cook’s cross from the right was only half-cleared, and Matthews kept the attack alive inside the box – his pass inside flicked off a Brocton player’s arm, but Elliott ignored shouts for a penalty to ram the ball into the roof of the net.
West were now in the groove and Elliott secured the matchball 12 minutes later in similar fashion. Matthews again teed up the West number 9 whose finish was unerring, this time into the bottom corner.
There was still time for another subsitute to make his mark on the game before full time. Liam Delaney found himself taking up a centre forward position as Gabidon swung a ball into the box, and his textbook header completed another successful day’s work for Chris Rowley’s side.
West: A. Jones, Cook, Westall, Tinker (Matthews 57), Dibble, Heathcote, Grewal (Delaney 75), C. Jones, Elliott (Lewis 85), Davis, Gabidon. Not used: Gavin, Eme.
Eckersley’s Plumbers & Locksmiths Player of the Match: Ben Elliott.