11:46pm Wednesday 12th March 2014
By Andrew Simpson
WITTON, on their own pitch at least, are gathering strength.
It is too early to tag Wincham Park again as a fortress but this, a fifth league match without losing there, is at least proof of increasing fortitude.
The timing could not be any better.
Brian Pritchard’s side, particularly in the first half, controlled the match though their followers would probably have wished for a more stress-free finish following Jordan Smith’s headed goal for Stamford.
He met Shawn Richards’ near post corner with a glancing touch to halve the Daniels’ deficit, and suddenly supporters started to feel a familiar discomfort.
However the visitors, jaded perhaps by journeys to Nantwich and then Whitby in the past seven days, could not summon up the energy to trouble Witton’s backline any further in the 20 minutes that followed.
By then Albion could, should even, have been out of sight in any case.
They had scored in the seconds either side of the half time interval to lead 2-0, proceeding to create chances to add to that advantage before Smith stole in front of his marker to claim his third goal of the week.
In truth, on this occasion the ends mattered more than the means for the hosts.
Gone was the stage fright that stalled them at Stafford, replaced by a fragile conviction.
Scott Bakkor’s energy in attack meant defenders had to deflect attention away from Alex Titchiner.
Supported from wide positions by Danny Andrews and fit-again Josh Hancock, Witton shot more often at goal during the early exchanges than they had in an hour and a half at Marston Road on Saturday.
Drives from distance from Hancock and then Titchiner, while not flustering goalkeeper Will Jones, at least demonstrated intent.
At the other end, Nabil Shariff could not hit the target after captain Richard Jones had nodded down Charlie Binns’ free kick.
Witton went closest when Michael Powell’s dipping volley clattered the goal’s frame, and the midfielder played a pivotal part in Albion’s opener five minutes later.
His pressure forced Ash Robinson to surrender possession to Andrews, who cut back for Powell as he arrived in the penalty area. The ex-Chester man’s steered shot was then diverted into the net by Bakkor.
A second goal arrived two minutes after the break.
Hancock’s contact was not clean after he had tamed Ally Brown’s deep cross from the right, but its placement was perfect.
Anthony Gardner was wasteful when Albion countered at speed – a raid that gathered momentum when Titchiner found Andrews – sending his shot skywards.
When substitute Jon Challinor blocked brilliantly Hancock’s effort, following fine approach play by Bakkor, a Witton win seemed inevitable.
Smith scored to challenge that assertion but the home team bucked a recent trend by protecting their slender advantage.
That is more of an achievement that it initially seems, prolonging as it does an unbeaten run to four games.
A position of safety in the table is closer too.
Witton Star Man: Danny Andrews. Provided a little bit of everything; endeavour, direct dribbling, incisive passes – the list goes on. Michael Powell, outstanding attacking from midfield in the opening 45 minutes, is a close second.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Brown, Harrison, Bodie, Moyo (Jackson 74), Andrews, Gardner, Powell, Hancock, Bakkor, Titchiner Subs not used Breeze, Dawson, Sheehan, Moseley Goals Bakkor 45, Hancock 47 Booked Hancock (simulation), Powell (wasting time), Gardner (throwing the ball away)
Stamford (4-4-2) Will Jones (GK), Carr, Richard Jones, Ashton (Challinor 46), Field, Richards, Jarvis, Robinson, Shariff, Binns (Robbins 58), Smith Subs not used Staff, Lawlor, Feetham Goal Smith 68 Booked Jarvis (foul), Jones (ungentlemanly conduct)
Referee Mark Duncan
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