8:50pm Saturday 26th October 2013
By Andrew Simpson
WITTON Albion’s revival continues apace.
Doubles for Dave Walker and Neville Thompson mean Brian Pritchard’s men will reach the end of October without a league defeat, winning three of four Premier Division matches.
In contrast, they failed to win a single game during September.
If they can repeat the trick next month, then the table’s upper reaches again beckon.
That said, rarely will they meet opponents as sapless as Stafford.
The visitors have shipped 10 goals on successive away days and, on this evidence at least, will surely sink before the season’s end.
Their latest conquerors, Witton, have scored more than 20 times in league and cup this month, a signal of ruder health after a sickly start to term.
Four of those arrived inside the opening quarter.
Danny Andrews, sent clear by Walker in the third minute, delayed his shot for long enough for goalkeeper Jon Brain to commit himself before guiding in a deft finish.
The host went close twice before scoring again, first when Brain blocked Walker’s effort then when the net-minder tipped over Andrews’ quickly-taken free kick.
Walker swept in Witton’s second after Josh Hancock had danced into a space left by Rangers’ porous defence.
When Thompson steered in a third goal, this time after Walker had flicked the ball into his path with a heel, the home team were rampant.
Walker added to his personal tally on 19 minutes, firing low into the corner after Michael Powell’s attempted effort had looped in his direction off a defender’s boot.
Stafford, failing to chase even the shadows of Witton’s attackers, were stunned.
They did shoot at goal though after half an hour; Joe Guest firing with force a drive that proved awkward for Albion custodian Matt Cooper.
Normal service resumed quickly.
Andrews’ drive rattled an upright, then the same player’s scooped shot dipped over after he had skipped past two would-be tacklers.
Former Northwich Victoria boss Andy Mutch shuffled his pack at the interval, sending on ex-Vics midfielder Sean Kinsella and midweek match-winner Jack Lees.
There was a dividend of sorts when Daniel Cope escaped the attention of Ben Harrison only to blaze over from the edge of the box.
Witton’s retaliation was smooth, an attack involving substitute Jon Dawson, Powell and Anthony Sheehan ending with Hancock hitting too high.
As if to emphasise their superiority, Albion’s fifth goal was as far removed from standard practice as possible.
Cooper kicked long and high a free kick over Stafford’s defence, again slow to react, to leave Andrews clear. He was unselfish, squaring for Thompson to convert.
Brain, rated as one of the best net-minders in the league, refreshed the mind of those starting to forget with fine saves to deny Dawson – with a foot – and Thompson.
Stafford have suffered a heavier defeat in Wincham, losing by six goals in a Football Conference encounter back in 1992.
Those days feel a long time ago.
Witton Star Man: Neville Thompson. At last, he showed Witton supporters what he is capable of – and against one of his former clubs.
Thompson’s finishing was sharp, but more than that there was encouraging evidence he can link with in-form strike partner Dave Walker if the two play together at the point of Albion’s attack.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Brown, Harrison, Powell (Bodie 75), Joseph, Andrews, Breeze, Sheehan, Hancock (Moseley 68), Thompson, Walker (Dawson 53) Subs not used Ashworth, Purcell Goals Andrews 3, Walker 10, 19 Thompson 16, 67 Booked Walker (dissent), Powell (foul)
Stafford (4-3-3) Brain (GK), Carr, Johnson, Bullock, Davies, Bateman, Burke (Kinsella 46), Guest, Steadman (Lees 46), Cope, Sheldon (McCarthy 64) Subs not used Toner, Bell Booked Cope (foul), Johnson (handball)
Referee Joe Simpson (Stockport)
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