STEVE Wilkes says he can sense a change of mood at Northwich Victoria after they registered back-to-back league wins for the first time since August.

Vics survived a late scare, conceding twice in the closing stages, but protected their advantage to collect maximum points.

“We’re starting to feel a positive buzz around the place,” said the manager afterwards.

“That’s a testament to how hard the players have worked, and they put in a fantastic effort to get over the line.”

Liam Bickett, a midfielder, was the latest new recruit to make his first league appearance.

However it was difficult for any player to stand out in challenging conditions – driving rain and a strong wind – that made for a scrappy opening.

Sam Fitton’s attempt from distance narrowly cleared the crossbar, while at the other end Emini Adegbenro fired straight at goalkeeper Michael Donlon after racing clear.

Vics took the lead six minutes before the break when Brian Matthews met Oscar Durnin’s cross with a header that he steered into the corner of the net from close-range.

And the home team doubled their advantage straight from the restart when Matthews served Fitton, who drilled low out of Congleton custodian Andy Jones’ reach.

The Bears attempted to muster a response after the interval, and went closest when Steve Foster’s header dropped wide from Declan Fletcher’s hanging centre.

It was 3-0 on 73 minutes though when Johnny Gorman’s shot squirmed through Jones’ fingers at his near post.

Foster flashed a shot high into the net following corner, then Tom Morris bundled in a loose ball from inside the six-yard box from another set-piece.

Ian Street’s side found the net again during five minutes of added time, only to be denied by a linesman’s flag.

Wilkes added: “They had five forwards on the field for the last 10 minutes, and it was a case of trying to dig deep.

“I thought we played some good football in the first half despite the conditions – wind is the worst for any footballer to cope with, and we’ve had to cope with it in our past two games.”

Vics | Donlon (GK), Grant, Weston, Lawrence, Johnson, Willis, Fitton (McDonnell 86), Bickett, Gorman, Matthews (Gyimah 75), Durnin (Marshall 88) Subs not used Pollard, Dale Goals Matthews 39, Fitton 40, Gorman 73 Booked Johnson, Fitton

Congleton | Jones (GK), Martin, Morris, Peters, Cavanagh (Hasler-Cregg 61), Stephens, Hibbert (Ford 65), Carey, Adegbenro, Foster, Fletcher Subs not used Hill, Johnson, Pritchard Goals Foster 83, Morris 89 Booked Adegbenro

Attendance 101

Match report by Jamie Dewsbury