11:46am Monday 14th April 2014
By Andrew Simpson
1874 Northwich 0 Maine Road 3
IN the end, Maine Road made it to the final with a minimum of fuss.
Conscious that 1874 Northwich had beaten two Premier Division teams to reach this stage, they never looked likely to becoming the debutants’ third higher-ranked victims.
As victors, the Manchester men also became the first side to better Ian Street’s men at Barton Stadium since September.
Richard Williams shot too high during the early exchanges, while captain Neil Chappell was unlucky when his goal-bound header from a corner was cleared.
Had Stuart Wellstead not screwed wide an attempt after he was gifted possession by Maine Road goalkeeper Ryan Livesey’s poorly-directed throw, the contest might have been closer.
Instead, 1874 thanked their own custodian Matt Conkie for denying Paul Connors and then Chappell at the other end.
The visitors added to their aggregate advantage at the start of the second period when Tom Bentham converted from the penalty spot after referee Mark Duncan spotted a defender’s arm diverting Williams’ cross.
Conkie then tipped John Mason’s drive onto the woodwork, but he could not prevent Maine Road from doubling their lead on 66 minutes.
Bentham’s dribble ended with a pass to Williams, who turned provider for Chappell to convert from close range.
His reward is to become the club’s all-time top scorer with 141 goals.
Livesey saved Mike Brandon’s header, but the away team continued to pose a greater threat.
Daniel Doherty attempted to lift the ball over Conkie only to be thwarted, but a third goal did arrive in the closing stages when a counter, launched by James Rothel, was finished smartly by the same player.
Ashton Athletic, conquerors of Rochdale Town, await in next month’s final.
1874 Conkie (GK), Mitchell, Thomas, Farnworth, Duckworth, Abdullah (Woods 56) Woolley, Bailey (Short 56), Wellstead, Brandon, Ward Subs not used Aston, Stewart
Maine Road Livesey (GK), Hill, Rothel, Mason, Shenton, Chappell, Connors (Langford 77), Beslin, Bentham (Beadle 75), Williams (Doherty 67), Moran. Subs not used Flynn, Coghlan
Referee Mark Duncan
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