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Alex Titchiner ends wait to score in Witton Albion's derby defeat of neighbours Nantwich Town
IN a season of struggle, it is easier to remember the best moments.
Alex Titchiner, with a flourish of his right boot, starred in one such episode in Witton’s win against their Cheshire neighbours.
The striker’s first goal – swerved into the top corner so precisely it might have been guided there by a laser – illuminated probably Albion’s best performance of the campaign.
Or at least for an hour it was.
They wobbled afterwards when Aaron Burns’ double gave the Dabbers hope of pinching a point they did not deserve, an inevitable reaction by a side with a single league success since the end of November.
This time they stood held on, to palpable relief on the terraces at Wincham Park.
Brian Pritchard’s men remain in the relegation zone, at least for now, but a brace for Titchiner – a fans’ favourite – has potential significance beyond statistics.
The former Crewe Alexandra junior had not scored a goal in a competitive match since April last year during a loan stay at FC Halifax Town.
Last night, there were 19 minutes between his first strike and a second.
Confidence can come and go that swiftly.
The 22-year-old’s movement tortured the visitors’ defence during a frenetic opening that quickly became a red and white striped monologue.
They almost broke through inside five minutes, but Nantwich custodian Steve James dived low to parry Ally Brown’s drive.
Titchiner spun on to Rob Bodie’s clipped pass on 13 minutes, taking a single touch before arcing a shot in off an upright.
Harry Clayton reminded Albion that the Dabbers were not dormant, wriggling clear only for goalkeeper Matt Cooper to smother his attempted finish.
The respite was fleeting, for Titchiner swatted in a second when Nantwich made a mess of clearing a set piece.
Josh Hancock flashed an effort narrowly wide of the far post before the interval, reached by Danny Johnson’s team without further damage.
He will not have been happy to see Hancock with the freedom of the penalty area to guide a perfectly-placed header beyond James’ reach after an hour, this time when Titchiner turned provider.
It is indicative of Witton’s season that the show did not stop there.
Burns diverted Oliver Devenney’s sliced shot into an open goal two minutes later after Cooper let slip a shot – likely heading wide – into the path of former Albion forward Steve Foster who teed up his teammate.
When Burns, briefly with Northwich Victoria earlier in his career, raced onto Mat Bailey’s pass to steer stylishly past Cooper the visitors sensed their chance.
Gone in a flash was Witton’s swagger, swapped for fragile resistance.
The roar that greeted referee Joe Simpson’s final whistle was fuelled by relief, though it is too early to value this victory beyond the initial three-point prize.
For now, Albion supporters can savour the catharsis of Titchiner’s return to form.
Witton Star Man: Alex Titchiner. No contest; the front man bagged a brace, including a goal of the season contender, before supplying an assist for Josh Hancock to head in Witton’s third. His movement induced visible panic in the Dabbers’ defence during the first half.
Witton (4-5-1) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Harrison, Bodie, Brown, Andrews, Jackson, Powell, Hancock, Dawson, Titchiner (Bakkor 86) Subs not used Plant (GK), Breeze, Sheehan, Moseley Goals Titchiner 13, 32 Hancock 61 Booked Hancock, Jackson (both fouls)
Nantwich (4-4-2) James (GK), Pearson, Frost, Bailey, Wilson (Meaney 63), Clayton (Deegan 63), Keogh, Devenney, White, Burns, Foster (Davis 85) Subs not used Green, Abadaki Goals Burns 63, 73 Booked Bailey (foul), Deegan (dissent), Meaney (ungentlemanly conduct)
Referee Joe Simpson