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Witton Albion upset Evo-Stik Northern Premier League promotion hopefuls Chorley
WITTON have arrived, delivering a message with verve on the pitch of a promotion favourite.
The hosts, play-offs semi finalists last term and promotion favourites again this time, lost to goals by each of Albion’s full backs after they had burst forward from deep positions.
There should be accolades for both, for their sense of adventure epitomised the approach of Brian Pritchard’s team from the start.
When Chorley rallied after Tom Ince had halved their arrears, Witton did sit deep.
It could have cost them when substitute Matt Jansen skidded a low shot against the post, but Albion denied the Magpies despite their attacking talent.
Had they pinched a point, Chorley’s performance would not have been worthy of it.
Their defence was never secure, particularly in the first half when Witton insisted on attack, nor did their work rate match that of the visitors.
A single-goal seemed scant reward for Albion’s superiority before the break.
Rory Fallon’s shot had fizzed wide before Mathew Wood’s drive from distance hit the net via the body of a back-marker.
The stadium announcer, with no hint of irony, duly credited ‘A Deflection’ as the scorer.
When Shaun Tuck’s speed hurried goalkeeper Andy Robertson into a gaffe, Ashley Stott sent the loose ball off target.
Presented with a better chance a minute later after Danny Andrews’ pass had prompted Anthony Gardner into space, the front man fired straight at Andrew Teague.
Stott turned provider for Fallon, whose angled effort flashed wide of the far post.
Where Witton were fluid, Chorley stuttered.
Shorn by injury of Jamie Vermiglio’s tempo-setting, they mustered a first attempt on goal with only seven minutes of the half left.
And even that was prodded off target.
The interval interrupted Albion, who ought to have paid for a defensive inattention that left ex-Witton forward Steve Foster face-to-face with custodian Matt Cooper.
His lob was poorly executed though.
When Ben Harrison and Cooper could not deal with a bouncing ball, they were reprieved again.
Alarm noted, they added a second goal to their tally to restore calm.
Andrews waited for precisely the right moment to tempt Gardner into a shooting space, who answered the invite with an emphatic finish.
Ince’s rising shot to make it 2-1, crashed past Cooper after a loose ball rolled kindly, was similarly dispatched.
Chorley, encouraged by a smaller deficit, at last applied pressure to Albion’s backline.
Cooper diverted Kieran Walmsley’s set piece to safety, although he was beaten when Jansen’s instinctive prod smacked a post after Ince persevered.
Pride prompted Garry Flitcroft’s men, who had foremost in their mind a recovery from a losing position in their season opener at Stocksbridge on Friday.
Witton, positioned closer to their own goal, still played with endeavour.
They did not forget to attack either, Andrews was stopped by Simon Garner in his shooting stride then substitute Mark Buchan somehow failed to convert Josh Hancock’s assist.
The victors’ intensity, overlooked by neutral observers predicting their ones to watch, will be noticed now.
Witton Star Man Anthony Gardner. His goal added gloss to an outstanding all round performance.
A huge asset in Albion’s attack raiding from a deep position on the right, his attention to detail in defence was no less impressive to keep quiet Chorley wide man Tom Ince.
Next best Rory Fallon deputised for injured Steven Connors with a calm authority. Intelligent in possession, he was diligent without the ball too. Final word for Danny Andrews, whose assist for Gardner’s goal was made to measure.
Chorley (4-4-2) Robertson (GK), Walmsley, Russell, Teague, Garner, Williams (Jansen 68), Roscoe, Steve Flitcroft (Walker 60), Ince, Foster (Cunliffe 68), Kilheeney. Subs not used Ross, Ahmadi. Goal Ince 67. Booked Roscoe, Cunliffe (both fouls).
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Harrison, Booth, Wood, Andrews, Sheehan, Fallon, Hancock, Tuck (Buchan 85), Stott (Glover 77). Subs not used Gahgan, Schofield, Woolley. Goals Wood 14, Gardner 58.
Referee Anthony Moore (Greater Manchester)