NORTHWICH Victoria were rewarded for a swift start when they extended a winning sequence in the North West Counties League to three matches last Saturday.

They scored twice inside the opening quarter of an hour, a lead they protected despite their hosts Abbey Hey applying pressure in the second half.

Brian Matthews converted a penalty on four minutes after Jay Hart had been felled by goalkeeper Jonathan McIlwaine – the front man’s 14th goal of the campaign.

The visitors doubled their lead shortly afterwards when Sam Fitton’s pass sent Hart clear, and he swept in left-footed.

Sam Freakes halved the home team’s arrears in the closing stages before his side was reduced to 10 men when Andrew Smith was sent off for kicking out at goalkeeper Mike Donlon at a corner.

“We had to dig deep and defend well collectively because we expected Abbey Hey to throw the kitchen sink at us and they did,” reflected Steve Wilkes, Vics’ manager, afterwards.

“Their front two are both tall, but I thought our central defenders Adam Lawrence and Allen Weston were immense.

“It’s a good three points to pick up away from home.”

Vics | Donlon (GK), Grant (McDonnell 17), Johnson, Fitton, Lawrence, Weston (Bennett 81), Gorman, Willis, Matthews, Durnin (Bickett 70), Hart Subs not used Marshall, Pollard Goals Matthews 4 (penalty), Hart 11

Attendance 57