9:00am Sunday 29th December 2013
By Andrew Simpson
1874 NORTHWICH needed only five minutes to make sure they start the New Year in a promotion position.
It was enough time to score twice against Widnes, a lead they never looked likely to relinquish in the game’s remainder.
That Michael Brandon, the North West Counties League newcomers’ outstanding performer to date, was one of those on target during this latest win was fitting.
He doubled the visitors’ lead after Stuart Wellstead had threaded a low cross from the left between both defenders and attackers in the first minute.
Brandon upped his goals tally for the term to 25 shortly afterwards, rising quickly to his feet to convert a rebound after an initial attempt had hit the post.
A ninth away victory of the campaign was assured.
Widnes offered little by way of a threat to the visitors’ backline, James Thomas firing narrowly wide before the break while Ben Tollet shot into the side netting in the second half.
Brandon scooped an effort off target as Ian Street’s men sought to add to their advantage, then goalkeeper Jack Eales intercepted Wellstead’s assist with the away team’s leading scorer waiting to pounce.
Eales was decisive again in the run-up to the interval, denying Brandon and then Steven Crane from close range in the same episode.
Brandon reminded 1874 fans he was human with an extraordinary miss in the moments after the half time, steering wide with the goal at his mercy after Daley Woods’ cross found a way past Eales.
Widnes almost halved their arrears following a goalmouth scramble when their guests failed to clear, though the next goal belonged to Northwich.
With six minutes left substitute Ryan Stewart slipped a pass into space for Wellstead, who skipped around Eales before finishing from an acute angle.
Widnes Eales (GK), Davies, Thomas Mitchell, McGiveron, Garvey, Colford (Donahue 60), Boyle, McCarthy, James Thomas, Wilson (Hughes 66), Tollit (Myers 62) Subs not used Foster, Pybus
1874 Conkie (GK), Ryan Mitchell, Farnworth, Danny Thomas, Duckworth, Crane (Woolley 79), Jones, Bailey (Stewart 60), Brandon, Woods (Coffin 86), Wellstead Subs not used Bowyer, Murphy Goals Wellstead 1, 84 Brandon 3
Referee Scott Wilson
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