Michael Brandon is decisive as 1874 Northwich win at promotion rivals Atherton Collieries

1874 Northwich goalkeeper Mike Brandon, left, is congratulated by Rick Bailey. Picture: MATT DRAYCOTT

Mike Brandon leaps high to win a lofted ball during his team's win at Atherton on Saturday. Picture: MATT DRAYCOTT

Matthew Ward dribbles at Colls' defence during Saturday's league encounter. Picture: MATT DRAYCOTT

Stuart Wellstead escapes the attention of an Atherton Collieries defender. Picture: MATT DRAYCOTT

First published in Sport Northwich Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Writer

WHEN 1874 Northwich needed him, leading scorer Michael Brandon delivered.
He always does.

The front man took his goals tally for the season to 27 with a thumping header from Ryan

Stewart’s cross early in the second period, another decisive moment a remarkable personal campaign.

As a result, Ian Street’s men become the first of the promotion-chasing teams to win at Alder Street this term.

Their reward is to swap places with Colls in the standings, though Formby remain four points away in second spot.

With 11 games left, there remains work still to do.

For now, they should savour a significant victory.

Their hosts started brightly on Saturday, in-form striker Paul Atherton bringing the best from goalkeeper Matt Conkie while Josh Peet’s drive from distance went close.

At the other end Lee Duckworth’s fierce effort fizzed over following Stuart Wellstead’s dribble on the right.

The visitors were relieved that Matthew Ward escaped more serious punishment than a caution after he clashed with Jake Patton off the ball, one of nine names written by referee Anthony Ball in his notebook.

Ward made a more positive contribution shortly afterwards, drifting past a series of tackles before forcing net-minder Phil Priestley to intervene.

Another effort slammed into the side-netting.

In between, Atherton had again made Conkie work.

Northwich created chances during the early exchanges in the second period, first when Rick Bailey diverted a free kick narrowly wide.

Brandon did the same from close range from Wellstead’s assist.

The game’s defining moment followed on 57 minutes, Brandon directing his header past Priestley after Duckworth and Ward had combined to tee up Stewart.

Atherton rallied, though their clearest opportunities did not arrive until the closing stages.

Chris Lawton’s attempt was tipped over by Conkie, but he was beaten by Rob Swanton’s shot from the resulting corner.

Fortunately, for the visitors in any case, it smacked against an upright.

Colls Priestley (GK), Cringle, Grimshaw (Leece 65), Halliwell, Lawton, Daryl Patton, Truffas (Stoker 75), Josh Peet (Swanton 55), Jake Patton, Atherton, Gareth Peet Subs not used Hatton, Evans

1874 Conkie (GK), Mitchell (Woolley 55), Farnworth, Aston, Duckworth, Wellstead (Lunn 68), Jones, Bailey, Stewart, Brandon, Ward Subs not used Bowyer, Tagoe Goal Brandon 57 Booked Ward, Mitchell, Wellstead, Farnworth, Jones

Referee Anthony Ball
Attendance 236

Thanks to Garry Clarke for his assistance with this report

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