THIS was a cathartic victory for 1874 Northwich.
In the end, it was comfortable too.
They will be relieved, and elated as well to have another opportunity to play in the Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup final.
On this occasion, Northwich Victoria provide the opposition.
1874 can turn their attention to that later, but for now stand-in managers Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison are focused solely on kick-starting a season that had lost momentum.
Their side’s first showing, admittedly against a Witton Albion side unrecognisable from the one that overpowered Leek 48 hours earlier, included plenty to be encouraged by.
The result does not flatter them, although their youthful guests were competitive for an hour before fading physically late on.
Albion boss Carl Macauley’s late arrival from work meant he missed his side’s goal, scored stylishly on nine minutes by Karl Noon with an angled shot into the far corner.
It was a reminder that those wearing Witton’s colours, which included goalkeeper Danny Roberts following a six-week spell out injured, were out to impress.
1874 assumed control though, and were not shy to shoot.
Sam Hare’s attempt, drilled narrowly over, was sandwiched by Tom Bailey twice going close.
An equaliser arrived on 38 minutes, Joe Woolley steering low past Roberts’ left hand after swapping passes with Jason Carey.
Noon almost doubled his personal tally, bringing the best out of custodian Greg Hall, before 1874 edged ahead.
There was a simplicity to its execution, Carey arching his back to steer a header into the net from Hare’s corner.
The hosts could breathe easier after adding to their lead on 62 minutes.
Roberts was swift from his line to smother Carey’s effort after he ran clear, conceding a corner.
Hare took it quickly, and Carey’s flick left Ryan Mitchell with the easiest of tasks to apply a finishing touch.
Mark Jones, off-balance, almost squeezed a shot into the far corner before Bailey jabbed an effort off-target after Woolley had bamboozled Ryan Hickman on the right.
Macauley withdrew Tolani Omotola and then Noon, replacing the latter with Cameron Dalton.
The front man’s introduction was a moment of cheer Albion’s supporters, marking his first appearance since a breaking his leg and ankle at Stamford on the season’s opening day.
1874 cruised for the remainder, and added gloss to the final score with five minutes left.
Roberts’ parry to keep out Bailey’s header at a set-piece was miraculous, and he deserved better than to see substitute Jordan Bove nudge the ball over the line from close range after Mitchell directed it back towards goal.
1874 | 4-4-2 | Hall (GK), Connor, Mitchell, Whiteoak, Russell, Joe Woolley (Bove 76), Hare, Mark Jones, Edwards (Matthew Woolley 87), Bailey, Carey (Whitlock 81) Subs not used Lee Jones, Waldron Goals Joe Woolley 38, Carey 43, Mitchell 62, Bove 85
Witton | 4-4-2 | Roberts (GK), Coughlan, Adigun, Conte, Esmaely (Bardsley 40), Hinchliffe, Hickman, Noon (Dalton 73), Davis, Omotola (Sheriff 56), Sloane Sub not used Walker (GK) Goal Noon 9
Referee Karl Buckley