8:00am Thursday 10th April 2014
By Andrew Simpson
IF Alex Titchiner’s stay at Witton ends this summer, then he will leave after again playing the part of protagonist.
His role in assisting Albion – ailing when he arrived – to rise from the relegation zone has been an inspirational one.
The 22-year-old left Wincham Park two years ago after the club’s return to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s top tier was confirmed, finishing as leading marksman.
This time his goals, eight of them in 14 starts, have helped them hang on to that Premier Division place.
Brian Pritchard’s men have won half of those games, almost twice as many victories as they managed in the 14 matches before his return.
“He’ll always get a chance, even if he’s not playing well,” said the manager afterwards.
“When he does, we know exactly what he can do.”
Quite, for Witton have prevailed in five of the seven encounters in which the former Crewe Alexandra striker has scored.
Not for the first time, Titchiner produced a moment of quality when his side required.
Tied at 1-1 and frustrated by Frickley, his rising shot from Danny Andrews’ perfectly-timed assist served to separate teams that had been evenly-matched for the most part.
As a reward, Albion’s advantage over their guests – who occupy the fourth demotion place – increases to 10 points.
While arithmetic shows safety is not yet assured, Witton foreheads were creased with fewer worry lines at the final whistle.
That was not the case at half time.
For Frickley took the initiative, at least initially.
It almost brought dividend when Jake Picton shaped to shoot after being supplied by Fernando Moke, but Michael Powell stretched to block his attempt.
Picton, who later limped off, then gifted Albion the lead.
Stooping low to intercept a corner, he speared an header past his own goalkeeper.
Titchiner forced Ben Simpson to save smartly shortly afterwards, an indicator of the hosts’ taking control.
Their grip on the game was loose though without a second score, proven when Moke steered in an equalising goal after Luke Hinsley pinched possession from Rob Bodie.
The latter’s next contribution was less flattering, shooting over from inside the six-yard box after substitute Leon Osborne had led a swift counter attack.
Stung, Witton were sprightly early in the second period.
Josh Hancock fired off target twice, a trick copied by Ross Davidson when he squandered slick approach play by Andrews.
At the other end, Albion goalkeeper Matt Cooper had to be quick from his line to thwart Osborne.
Titchiner’s moment arrived with seven minutes left followed by a red card for Moke, booked for a second time as punishment for diving in a bid to earn a penalty.
With Frickley’s best player went their hopes of a recovery.
Scott Bakkor really ought to have added to Albion’s advantage in stoppage time, but shot feebly when face-to-face with Simpson.
Fortunately, his strike partner had not shown such mercy earlier.
Witton have plundered 23 points with Titchiner in the team, the prize for which is survival.
Witton Star Man: Anthony Sheehan. His best performance since returning to action after an injury. Prompted the hosts from central midfield to assume control of that part of the pitch.
Michael Powell is a close second to the captain, occupying a position in central defence with impressive assurance and authority.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Powell, Bodie, Brown, Andrews, Sheehan (Jackson 70), Davidson, Hancock, Bakkor, Titchiner Subs not used Moyo, Breeze, Burleigh, Moseley Goals Picton 13 (own goal), Titchiner 83 Booked Andrews, Brown (both fouls)
Frickley (4-4-2) Simpson (GK), Amdal, Denton (Villermann 20), Wilcox, Stratford, Hornsey, Picton (Jeffs 52), Sharry, Kenny (Osborne 35), Moke, Hinsley Subs not used Hood (GK), Davies Goal Moke 42 Booked Stratford (foul), Moke (dissent) Sent off Moke (second caution, simulation)
Referee Matthew Corlett (Liverpool)
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