Tactical change prompts Witton Albion to see off Halesowen Town after close Premier Division encounter

Witton 2-0 Halesowen

Witton 2-0 Halesowen

First published in Football Northwich Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Writer

UNLIKE other candidates to succeed Brian Pritchard as Witton Albion’s manager, Anthony Sheehan is having his interview in public.

On this evidence, he has impressive credentials.

The 32-year-old has the advantage of knowing the club, and what its supporters want and like.

Perhaps most tellingly, he appears to have the backing of the players.

With the game meandering to a goalless stalemate Sheehan, after consultation with interim management team colleagues Nigel Deeley and Dave Andrew, tinkered tactically.

He moved Josh Hancock from a central position to a more familiar one on the left, stationing Iain Howard closer to forward Neil Harvey.

Albion scored shortly afterwards when Hancock, temporarily back at Wincham Park on loan, cut inside from the flank before rifling a unstoppable drive inside Halesowen goalkeeper Matthew Sargeant’s near post.

The home team were comfortable and in control from that moment on, making safe maximum points when Harvey steered in a smart finish with six minutes left.

Witton, after losing their first two matches, are unbeaten in four since.

Sheehan is likely to be in charge for Saturday’s trip to Barwell, when another victory will make it increasingly difficult for chairman Mark Harris to appoint anybody else.

The club’s desire, verging on need, for an FA Cup run this season has increased the pressure to make the right choice.

At least now the opening day humiliation against Ilkeston is a fast-fading memory.

In the second half, Witton imposed themselves on capable opponents.

They could, perhaps should, have scored a second goal long before Harvey did.

Hancock had already fizzed a drive narrowly wide before his hammer of a shot broke Halesowen’s hold on Albion’s attack.

After scoring, the Telford wide man almost repeated the trick after wriggling around Sargeant but Kristian Green blocked his goal-bound shot.

The Yeltz’s net-minder smothered Howard’s fiercely-hit effort at his near post, then at full stretch to tip over Harvey’s thunderous blast from distance.

Halesowen, promoted as Division One South champions last season, were invisible in attack.

Their best chance had fallen to Ben Haseley before the break, but Chris Sanna turned the front man’s header around an upright.

At the other end, Danny Andrews’ drilled attempt had thudded against an upright in a listless period’s only memorable moment.

That had long since changed by the time Harvey threaded an effort out of Sargeant’s reach after his initial attempt had hit a defender.

Substitute Alex Titchiner almost added gloss in stoppage time with a speculative punt that demanded a more routine save for the visitors’ custodian than those previous.

Sheehan believes Witton wasted an opportunity in Saturday’s draw at Whitby.

He is determined now not to miss his own.

Witton Star Man: Neil Harvey. A class act in everything that he does, but supplements it with a work ethic that is a manager’s dream.

Witton (4-4-2) Sanna (GK), Moyo, Harrison, Gardner, Lea, Andrews, Davidson, Powell (Titchiner 90), Howard (Dawson 87), Hancock, Harvey Subs not used Swift (GK), Corbett, Sherratt Goals Hancock 53, Harvey 84

Halesowen  (4-4-2) Sargeant (GK), Green, Hull, Tilt, Charlton, Tonks, MacKenzie (Turner 71), Bragoli, Griffiths (Lait 71), Christie, Haseley (Thompson-Brown 78) Subs not used Pearson (GK), Kettle Booked Charlton, Bragoli (both fouls)

Referee Matthew Bristow

Attendance 303

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