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Witton Albion celebrate first Premier Division success of the season at neighbours Nantwich Town
WITTON, in particular manager Brian Pritchard, can sleep easier now.
There was little evidence his side is in crisis after they ended a sequence of three defeats with an ease he will not have expected.
Not that he will mind.
Albion had never won a match here, while the Dabbers had not known defeat on their own pitch since despatching the Northwich club at Easter.
That may have made this result harder to predict, although the visitors’ assertiveness from the start set them on the right course to maximum points.
The natural assumption once Kyle Wilson – playing with purpose against his former club – had steered in a smart opener was that Witton would be uneasy.
After all, they had surrendered winning positions at the interval in each of their previous two games.
If they were, then they didn’t show it.
The comfort with which they administered an advantage, even before Nantwich goalkeeper Luke Simpson was sent off for a foul on Danny Andrews, was convincing.
Nantwich, in contrast, were not.
The Dabbers did not deal with Josh Hancock, stationed in a central position between Witton’s midfield and attack, and it cost them.
He proved elusive, able to sneak into spaces from which to threaten a fragile backline.
From one such episode did Albion edge ahead, Hancock clipping a pass over the defence that Wilson made his before Simpson – slow to leave his line – could do anything to stop his cute lob.
The visitors ought to have led before then, only for Nicky Platt to send his shot skywards after Hancock had cushioned Cliff Moyo’s cross into his path.
Nantwich can argue though that the narrative may have been altered had Thomas Moore’s direct free kick not been parried onto a post by custodian Matt Cooper shortly after Wilson had scored.
Witton, for whom debutant Jon Dawson impressed on the left of midfield, were undeterred.
Wilson should have done better than to flick Danny Andrews’ quickly-taken free kick straight at Simpson with his head, then Dawson drilled wide from Hancock’s assist.
Nantwich, sent out early for the second half, arrived not with any new ideas about how to overturn a deficit.
Instead they helped Witton to increase it, Simpson seeing red shortly after the hour after a clumsy trip on Andrews who had beaten him to Wilson’s through-ball.
Hancock, faced with stand-in net-minder Moore, thumped in the resulting penalty with force.
Witton, while never appearing as if they would dish out a thrashing, casually created chances for the remainder.
Marc Joseph’s chipped pass deserved better than for Wilson to hit his next shot softly enough for Moore to smuggle it off the line, then Andrews’ attempt from angle smacked the outside of a post.
In between, substitute Steve Foster’s header from Platt’s cross scraped the bar.
It was exactly the afternoon Witton needed after a difficult week.
With four players – Michael Powell, Anthony Sheehan, Neville Thompson and Shaun Tuck – still to return, Pritchard might even dream during that nap he needs.
Witton Star Man: Kyle Wilson. His former club will be glad they won’t see him for a while. Witton’s skipper for the day moved constantly to give midfielders a target to hit. Josh Hancock, excellent throughout, did exactly that to assist Wilson for Albion’s opener.
Nantwich (4-4-2) Simpson (GK), Frost, Davis, Egerton-Wilson, White, Carden (Devenney 69), Moore, Jones, Harrop (Williams 69), Clayton (Young 65), Burns Subs not used Parkinson, Lambert Booked Williams (foul)
Witton (4-5-1) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Harrison, Joseph, Moyo, Andrews, James (Purcell 76), Platt, Hancock (Moseley 87), Dawson, Wilson (Foster 69) Subs not used Plant (GK), Grocott Goals Wilson 24, Hancock 64 (penalty)
Referee David McNamara (Blackpool)
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