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1874 Northwich make most of good fortune to record comfortable league victory against Cheadle Town
Mike Brandon rides a Cheadle defender's tackle during 1874 Northwich's win on Tuesday. Picture: Annie Hilditch
WHEN you’re chasing, any assistance to catch those in front can make all the difference.
1874 Northwich were six points adrift of leaders Atherton Collieries at kick off, a gap they had halved 90 minutes later following a 4-0 win.
After half an hour, such a one-sided result appeared unlikely.
Ian Street’s men had shot at goal plenty of times, though mostly from outside of the penalty area, but Cheadle goalkeeper Stephen Piggott had not needed to save any.
The game changed on 36 minutes when Rick Bailey, right boot pulled back and ready to strike the ball, was tripped by full back Ben Roberts.
Referee Anthony Ball rightly awarded a spot kick, converted coolly by Matthew Ward, and sent off the back-marker as punishment for spoiling a scoring chance.
The visitors, who had started brightly before staying solid in defence while the hosts applied pressure, had seven minutes to hold out before the break.
They almost managed it too.
That is until Mike Brandon, leading scorer in Division One this season, steered in a perfectly-placed header to convert Daley Woods’ cross from the left.
It cheered Northwich, choking Cheadle.
They were brushed aside afterwards against a team that took its goals total to nine from back-to-back matches at Barton Stadium.
Brandon, after Ward’s pass had split the defence, was unlucky to see his shot trickle wide on the hour.
Rick Bailey was next to go close, the ball squirming wide of an upright after Woods had supplied another centre.
A third goal did arrive on 71 minutes, full back Ryan Mitchell stooping low to nod in his first goal for the club after Brandon’s initial header from Ward’s assist had been parried by Piggott.
Within seconds the hosts’ tally swelled further, this time when Stuart Wellstead’s near post flag kick was diverted into the net by fast-moving Woods.
1874 have scored eight goals in their past two Division One encounters at Barton Stadium, more than in the previous half dozen there combined.
At home, they can feel comfort at last.
They could have played in slippers by the end, such was their superiority.
Brandon headed wide substitute Steve Crane’s cross, then was denied by a brilliant block from Piggott when shooting with power.
After a single defeat in 10 league and cup games since the start of October – eight of those ending in victory – there is cause for optimism.
1874 Northwich Star Man: Matthew Ward. A straightforward choice, for the diminutive attacker consistently posed the home team’s greatest threat from open play.
Positioned himself in a space between the visitors’ midfield and defence from where he could turn and dribble directly at a retreating backline.
1874 (4-2-3-1) Conkie (GK), Mitchell, Farnworth, Thomas, Duckworth, Jones, Bailey, Woods (McGregor 78), Ward, Wellstead (Crane 83), Brandon Subs not used Bowyer, Morana Goals Ward 37 (penalty), Brandon 45 (+2), Mitchell 71, Woods 73 Booked Conkie, Mitchell, Thomas (all fouls)
Cheadle (4-4-2) Piggott (GK), Smallwood, Jason Walley, Armstrong, Roberts, Connolly (McCrohan 62), Trucca, Paul Walley (Rhodes 71), Pearson, Nolan, Brooks (McGreevy 78) Subs not used none Booked Armstrong (foul) Sent off Roberts (foul)
Referee Anthony Ball
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