12:48pm Sunday 16th March 2014
By Andrew Simpson
BY half time Witton supporters will have had sinking feeling.
With Whitby leading and Albion barely fluid enough to muster a shot at goal, they had reason to be worried.
But in the space of 30 second half minutes, Brian Pritchard’s men produced a dominant display to propel themselves to victory and –more importantly – a position of safety in the table.
Whisper it, but they are gathering momentum right on time.
This run of results in Northwich, now half a dozen without defeat, is their best on home turf this term.
After losing five of six matches at Wincham Park before the end of September, it is a marked improvement.
Danny Andrews’ leveller on 55 minutes, smuggled in at the back post after goalkeeper Shane Bland failed to cut out Josh Hancock’s low, driven cross, had a soothing effect.
It galvanised at the same time.
Their guests, without hope of reaching the play-offs following three successive defeats, offered little resistance.
Michael Powell’s cute flick shortly afterwards left Alex Titchiner face-to-face with Bland, the Whitby custodian’s brilliant diversionary touch helping the striker’s shot onto the bar.
Undeterred, the Witton duo combined again on 67 minutes.
Powell picked a defender’s pocket before clipping a pass to Titchiner, and his finish was emphatic.
Whitby looked overwhelmed, probably surprised too, by Albion’s transformation.
Substitute Jon Dawson fizzed a shot towards goal that Bland blocked before defenders ushered Andrews to an unthreatening position from the rebound.
Powell sliced wide too.
Witton then raided on the counter, Titchiner spinning away from Kevin Burgess on the right before pushing a pass into Scott Bakkor’s path.
With only Bland to beat, his effort cannoned against an upright.
Titchiner, twice, went close to adding to Albion’s advantage – on the second occasion shooting feebly after escaping the attention of Whitby’s overworked defence.
A third goal arrived with six minutes left, Dawson clipping the ball clear of a defender before firing with power into the net when he next touched it.
There was no chance Witton would let slip this lead against opponents who had only ever won once previously here in the Northern Premier League.
“I told them to keep calm,” said Pritchard afterwards when asked to reveal what he’s said to his team during the interval.
“I was as surprised as anybody to see such a flat performance in the first half, as I thought beating Stamford in midweek was just the spur we needed. Scoring so soon after half time settled us down.”
Whitby’s opener, after 35 minutes, was perhaps a wake-up call.
Craig Farrell steered in his fifth goal in as many games from Tom Portas’ assist after the midfielder ghosted into a space behind Witton’s backline.
Witton Star Man: Michael Powell. As the senior player, has assumed responsibility of being captain, leading by example in pushing forward his teammates.
His was the tackle, and subsequent pass, that led to Alex Titchiner putting Witton in front for the first time. It was probably the game’s pivotal moment.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Brown, Bodie, Harrison, Gardner, Andrews, Jackson (Moyo 66), Powell, Hancock (Dawson 70), Bakkor (Sheehan 81), Titchiner Subs not used Breeze, Moseley Goals Andrews 55, Titchiner 67, Dawson 84 Booked Powell (dissent)
Whitby (4-4-2) Bland (GK), Hassan, Pell, Bullock (Henry 76), Burgess, Mason (Rundle 76), McTiernan, Portas, Robinson, Farrell, Snaith (Mulligan 65) Subs not used Campbell (GK), Williams Goal Farrell 35
Referee Mark Astley (Denton)
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