1874 NORTHWICH closed to within a point of a promotion position after Danny Thomas’ late goal settled a close encounter.
Ian Street’s men have now won their past half dozen home matches in Division One, though this was the scruffiest.
Matthew Ward’s spot kick was saved early in the second half before Thomas – one of three different faces in the hosts’ back four from Saturday’s 1-0 success at Atherton Collieries – swept in a loose ball from Rick Bailey’s corner.
It brought with it relief but, more importantly at this stage of the season, maximum points.
Playing at Barton Stadium for the first time in more than two months, 1874 had opportunities to make their evening a more comfortable one.
Ryan Stewart headed narrowly over during the initial exchanges before Villa custodian Lee Whatmough saved efforts from recalled Daley Woods, Ward and Stewart again during a spell of home team pressure.
The Flixton-based visitors, beaten twice already in league and cup by Northwich this term, threatened sporadically.
Mo Ali’s free kick flew over, while in the moments after half time Martin Gordon fired wide when well-placed.
Ward might have calmed his supporters’ concerns had he converted a penalty after a match official spotted a foul from Connor Tagoe’s floated free kick.
However the forward’s weak hit was kept out easily by Whatmough.
Poor decisions, and execution, in the attacking third contributed to the relief around the ground when Thomas reacted swiftly to send a match-winning shot into the net with less than a quarter of an hour left.
A shutout at the other end means 1874 have avoided conceding a goal in more than seven hours.
1874 Conkie (GK), Woolley, Thomas, Duckworth, Tagoe (Short 73), Woods, Jones, Bailey, Stewart (Wellstead 62) Brandon, Ward Subs not used Bowyer, Lunn Goal Thomas 78 Booked Brandon, Jones
Villa Whatmough (GK), Suleiman, Ahmed Ali, Badrock, Mo Ali, Omar (Callacher 85), Gordon, Shaun Williams, Ibrahim (Kieran Williams 67), Owens, Horrocks Subs not used Rushe, Norris
Referee James Morgan