Pete Tonge gives his verdict on Northwich Victoria's 2-1 home win against Squires Gate on Sunday...

THIS was a victory made from a quickfire start and followed by a dogged determination not to lose.

Vics showed no signs of rustiness in their first match for three weeks, as they stormed into a two-goal lead within the first 20 minutes.

Roman Allen was the first to test ex-Vics' keeper Mike Hale in the Squires Gate net in the 10th minute when he powered a header from a whipped Joe Camozzi cross goalwards but Hale did well to save.

However it was only four minutes later that Vics took the lead, when Ryan Winder fired a low corner in from the right, which was met by the inrushing Luke Sephton whose first time shot found the corner of the net.

Three minutes later, it was two, when Winder delivered another corner in, this time from the left, which Hale failed to collect. The ball ricocheted around the box before falling to Ash Dunn who stabbed the ball home.

It was nearly three a few minutes later, as Matty Birchall jinked past a couple of defenders and fired in a shot which was deflected just wide.

Squires Gate started to get into the game, and were dominating possession but without creating too much danger for the Vics defence.

Their first real chance fell to Mills who headed straight at Chris Cheetham in the Vics net, after a precise cross from the left by Mekkaoui-Abouzaid.

Then in the final minute of the half, their pressure finally paid off as they picked up a loose ball, drove at the Vics defence and Mills had a shot across the penalty area where Jack Iley was waiting to tap the ball home.

Vics started the second half with good tempo and forced a corner which again the impressive (and unmarked) Rudy Misambo met with a thunderous header which looked a goal all the way, but went inches wide.

Birchall then escaped behind the Gate defence, but was forced wide but still managed to fire in a shot from a tight angle which Hale did well to tip wide.

Squires Gate survived the pressure and started to threaten at the other end again.

In the 59th minute, a dangerous cross from Riley just evaded their players in the box.

The next minute, an excellent free-kick was whipped in by Riley, which reached Mekkaoui-Abouzaid at the far post but he could only poke it wide.

It was now a compelling end-to-end match with both sides looking for the next goal.

In the 68th minute, Vics did well down the right, and Camozzi laid the ball back to Ryan Winder whose shot was straight at Hale.

Vics were looking resolute at the back, and holding firm against the increasing Gate attacks.

Firstly Rogers, and then Mills, had good long-range efforts which weren't far over the bar but as the game eased into the last five minutes or so, Vics were looking more and more comfortable and did well to keep hold of the ball and saw the game out comfortably.

Plenty of positives to take out of the game for Vics, as the victory takes them up to eighth in the league.

Next match: Vics v Litherland REMYCA, Saturday, January 22, kick-off 3pm.

MATCH FACTS:

Northwich Victoria 2 Squires Gate 1 at U Lock It Stadium,

NWC Premier Division, Sunday 16th January 2022

Vics: Cheetham, Camozzi , Barski, Allen, Misambo, ( Mather 86mins) Owen, Winder, Dunn, Clarke, Sephton, Birchall (Lynch 82mins). Unused subs: Rogers, Roberts.

Goals: Vics: Sephton 14mins, Dunn 17. Squires Gate: Iley 44