Substitutions inspire Witton Albion to recovery at Premier Division strugglers Eastwood Town

Northwich Guardian: Witton Albion's hat-trick hero Shaun Tuck. Witton Albion's hat-trick hero Shaun Tuck.

WITTON, strangers to shut outs as well as draws, produced a second half recovery to take maximum points from a match they trailed had in.

Not just behind, they were smothered by opponents who made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in experience to leave the visitors looking uncharacteristically lethargic.

Albion, so limp in the first half, rose from their slumber when manager Brian Pritchard sent on Steve Foster and Oliver James on the hour.

The former scored an equaliser and conjured an assist for the contest’s winning goal for Shaun Tuck, who helped himself to a second successive hat-trick on a league away day.

James, making his first appearance of the season, supplied an authority in midfield previously missing.

“It was one of those days when we were made to work really hard for a win,” said Witton boss Brian Pritchard afterwards.

“I’m happy that we didn’t give in, and we attacked pretty much for the whole of the second half.

“We were careless before that, it can’t become habit that we only start to play after going behind.”

He was buoyed by Foster’s contribution, the front man’s last before an initial loan stay from rivals Chorley ends in midweek.

The 30-year-old has netted twice, but added much more to Albion’s with his know-how.

Like last week, Witton’s opponents did not stick to the script.

Losers in five of their past six matches, shipping more than 20 goals along the way, struggling Eastwood were expected to be easy pickings.

The Badgers were anything but, even after conceding first.

When Tuck nodded in Ashley Stott’s chipped cross from close range at the end of Albion’s first attack, the hosts – still without a manager following John Ramshaw’s exit last month – refused to revert to type.

On the contrary, they scored twice in five minutes to turn over that deficit.

Alex Troke reacted quickest to fire a perfectly-timed shot in off a post after the visitors passed up an opportunity, twice, to clear Jacob Green’s cut back.

Green, again from a position behind Mathew Wood, supplied a fiercely-hit cross that diverted off an unlucky Paul Booth and into the net soon afterwards.

Eastwood spent the rest of their energy forcing Witton to cede possession cheaply, but it left them spent later on.

Witton emerged with vigour for the second half, Stott and Tuck both wasting chances to score either side of Matt Cooper’s smart save with a boot to thwart Greg Simmons.

Foster scored within five minutes of his arrival, racing clear onto debutant Paul Alcock’s forward pass.

There was an inevitability about Albion’s next goal, Tuck looping a measured finish over goalkeeper Rhys Watkinson following Danny Andrews’ assist.

Eastwood punctured Witton’s momentum when Troke, unmarked, headed in Piliero’s corner but the respite was fleeting.

Albion insisted, nicking a winner when Foster’s deft sidewards flick sent Cooper’s kick forward into Tuck’s path and he did the rest.

Sub – and stand-in manager – Mitch Hanson saw red for a reckless challenge on Anthony Gardner.

Witton Star Man: Steve Foster.  One of the substitution that at last turned the game Witton’s way. Took his goal coolly, later providing a stunning assist for Shaun Tuck to blast the winner. The last thing a tiring Eastwood backline needed to see after it had done so well for the first hour.

Eastwood (4-4-2) Watkinson (GK), Breach (Hanson 61), Graham, Travis Munn, Raven (Bradley Munn 77), Green, Elliott, Troke, Piliero, Clarke (Aaser 82), Simmons. Subs not used Savim, Atkinson. Goals Troke 21, 67 Booth 26 (own goal). Booked Breach, Simmons (both fouls). Sent off Hanson (foul).

Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Booth, Alcock, Wood, Jamie Harrison (Hancock 70), Sheehan, Shaw (James 57), Andrews, Tuck, Stott (Foster 57). Subs not used Clayton, Moseley. Goals Tuck 10, 65, 83 Foster 62. Booked James (dissent).

Referee Stuart Eagland (Lichfield)
Attendance 160

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