WITTON supporters fly a flag with Brian Pritchard’s name on it, but his standard bearers on the field continue to attract attention from longing admirers.
A third successive win – the hosts’ longest victory sequence since returning to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League top tier– lifted the newcomers to second place.
An outstanding individual performance from striker Shaun Tuck, spoiled only slightly when his hunger for a hat-trick affected his aim late on, made the difference against opponents emboldened by shutting out the home team for more than half an hour.
The Badgers, brittle after seven straight defeats, crumbled at the moment the former Skelmersdale front man flashed in the game’s first goal six minutes before the break.
When Steve Foster swept in a second soon afterwards following goalkeeper Richard Stainsby’s gaffe, the outcome was settled.
Eastwood had been obdurate from the outset, although Witton rarely played at a pace that allowed them to put pressure on a backline they pierced four times a fortnight ago.
The story might have been different had Tuck not skewed a free header off target in the first five minutes.
Hunger to score undiminished he scampered away from Eastwood skipper Romaine Graham soon afterwards, the defender’s recovering tackle taking the ball away from the target.
These were only episodes though, fragments of flow.
Josh Hancock, scoreless since September, shot tamely when his sight of goal was clear on 24 minutes.
Another quarter hour passed before Witton went ahead, Tuck firing home with fury after Foster’s flick had sent Hancock into a space from which he could deliver a perfectly-weighted assist.
Foster all but walked in Albion’s match-clinching second, reacting quickly when the Badgers’ net-minder allowed a greasy ball to squirm from his grasp.
When Stainsby stuck out a boot to block Mathew Wood’s low drive from the hosts’ next foray forward, Eastwood were eager for the respite of half time.
They preferred to limit damage rather than risk anything in attack in the second half, although only Albion’s inaccuracy prevented a heavier defeat.
Hancock danced past two tackles after cutting inside from the left touchline, his angled effort narrowly missing a post on 51 minutes.
Witton, unflustered in defence despite seeking a season-first back-to-back clean sheets, continued to dominate.
Tuck toe-poked in a third goal midway through the half, diverting the ball past Stainsby at the far post to take his season tally to 15.
He was favourite to hit a second hat-trick in less than a month, only to shoot too close to Eastwood’s number one after making his own opportunity on 72 minutes.
Travis Munn’s brave block thwarted substitute Jamie Harrison when he shaped to score after Anthony Gardner’s raid down the right.
Witton have more points at the end of November this term than they did last, a measure of progress not even the most optimistic of Albion fans could have foreseen.
Witton Star Man: Shaun Tuck. Witton’s idea of the player they had signed from former rivals Skelmersdale is becoming reality. Even more exciting is a burgeoning alliance with Steve Foster at the point of Albion’s attack. Tuck’s finishing was erratic in truth, but his flourish for the opening goal was a treat worth waiting for.
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Ben Harrison (Glover 79), Booth, Wood, Andrews, Sheehan, James, Hancock (Jamie Harrison 71), Tuck, Foster (Shaw 71). Subs not used Clayton, Moseley. Goals Tuck 39, 67 Foster 41. Booked Wood (foul).
Eastwood (4-4-2) Stainsby (GK), Raven, Graham, Travis Munn, Piliero, Green, Rogers, Aaser (Witton 79), Holland, Harris, Bradley Munn (Selvam 46). Subs not used none. Booked Rogers (foul).
Referee Paul Hodkinson (Preston)