In praise of helping hands

Gary Martindale, Witton’s assistant manager, dedicated his side’s draw with Barwell to the club’s volunteers.

Some were on duty at Wincham Park before daybreak to prepare a playing surface left sodden by persistent rainfall in the hours before kick-off.

Their efforts, which started in the dark and were aided by the floodlights, did not go unnoticed.

“What they do is remarkable,” said Martindale.

“It feels like the rain hasn’t stopped, but they were determined to get the game on for us. As a management team we’re so grateful that they did.

“The players are too.”

Point dropped, or two gained?

A glance at the fixture list, and awareness that Barwell were weakened by absences through suspension and injury, might have earmarked this match as a must-win.

However a draw earned with 10 men, following Joel Bembo-Leta’s first-half dismissal, and after coming from behind twice is one that will feel deserved.

And it was.

Albion finished strongly, and might have scored through Michael Wilson or Will Jones before stand-in skipper Rob Hopley swept in James Foley’s driven cross in the third minute of added time.

“It’s a point gained without a shadow of a doubt,” said assistant manager Gary Martindale afterwards.

A day to forget for Conor Brown

The referee’s performance irked both teams.

Indeed, Paul Moore was ordered to watch the second-half from the stand after Brown took exception to how Witton’s first-team coach reacted to inconsistency.

A decision to book Joel Bembo-Leta for a first handball was justified after the Witton defender instinctively raised his arm.

However the second, when the ball skewed at speed off a Barwell player, was not.

The match official then inexplicably failed to caution Jake Heath when he handled in the middle of the field during an Albion attack.

It won’t have escaped the attention of many home supporters that the Canaries’ midfielder, who scored their second goal, was then booked for a foul later on.

Steven Tames can’t be shaken

He converted successfully from the penalty spot for a seventh time this season to make it 1-1 on the hour.

The attacker, Witton’s leading scorer with 15 goals, had to wait for more than five minutes while goalkeeper Liam Castle received treatment after fouling Owen Dale in full-flight.

Barwell’s custodian left the field with concussion, and a nasty cut above his right eye, shortly afterwards.

Undeterred, Tames beat his stand-in.

The forward also played a pivotal part in Albion’s second equaliser, threading a perfectly-weighted pass into a space behind the visitors’ defence.

James Foley received it, and teed up Hopley.

Northwich Guardian:

Steven Tames was on target again for Witton Albion when he took a penalty during a 2-2 draw with Barwell at Wincham Park on Saturday. Picture: Keith Clayton

Festive cheer for Witton

A haul of four points from three games at Christmas is perhaps less than Carl Macauley wished for.

His side were far too good for back-markers Sutton Coldfield last weekend, scoring six times, and were denied a draw against promotion-hopefuls Warrington by substitute Tony Gray’s late winner.

A date with Barwell was perhaps earmarked as one to win, but the circumstances in which it was collected make the point from that game a worthy one.

Albion have been hampered by the absence through injury of four players, preventing them from keeping those that are fit fresh by resting them.

A prior agreement with Altrincham means Bembo-Leta is unable to play at Moss Lane on New Year’s Day, when the visitors to Moss Lane must grit their teeth one more time.