A significant step for Witton

Witton Albion still have plenty to do if they want to reach the FA Cup first round proper for the first time in 23 years.

However a third qualifying round tie next month will end a seven-season wait to play at that stage of the competition.

Coincidentally, that was also a run that included a win at home to Spennymoor Town.

For now, the Northwich club can look forward with anticipation to Monday’s draw knowing that two victories in the latest edition have already earned a total of £15,000 in prize money.

Another triumph next time out would double that figure.

Albion’s best performance so far?

Carl Macauley certainly thinks so.

There is a feeling in Witton’s management team that their side ought to have more points on the board than they do after eight matches in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight this season.

Defensively, with the exception of a disappointing display at Stafford, they have improved significantly on last term.

However that is in part due to making a sacrifice or two further forward.

What delighted the Albion boss during a head-to-head with Spennymoor, a higher-ranked rival don’t forget, is that his side looked more threatening in the attacking third.

And they were so while remaining solid at the back.

When a substitute makes an impact

It was not in Witton’s plans to introduce Delial Brewster to their forward line as early as they did.

However an injury to Will Jones towards the end of the first-half forced their hand, and the 20-year-old made his fifth appearance of the campaign from the bench.

And it caught everybody’s attention.

His burst into the visitors’ penalty area, cutting inside from the right, panicked Kris Thackray enough for the Spennymoor defender to send him sprawling.

James Foley converted from the spot.

And Brewster was instrumental too in Albion’s second goal, making forward progress on the left with sheer force and determination before sliding a pass inside to Danny McKenna.

When a plan comes together

Rob Ramshaw, a skilful attacking midfielder, had been earmarked in scouting reports as an influential figure for Spennymoor.

Albion responded by stationing Cesaire, the most conservative of their midfield players, a little deeper in front of their defence than usual.

It meant he occupied a space between the lines that Ramshaw wanted to operate in, and was first to close down the Moors man when he received possession.

Front man Glen Taylor, the visitors’ leading goal-scorer, was starved of service as a result.

It was telling that Ramshaw had to move closer to his own team’s back four in the second-half to pick up possession, and stayed in a more conventional central midfield role following the introduction of Adam Boyes.

In praise of Matty Devine

The former Marine full-back has rediscovered his best form in the past fortnight, and turned in another outstanding individual performance.

It was obvious, in the first-half at least, that Spennymoor felt they could exploit space behind him when he pushed forward and Shane Henry in particular repeatedly tried to hit a long diagonal pass over his head for Shaun Tuton.

As a tactic, it failed.

Devine was disciplined, alert too, and Albion’s opponents had no joy attempting to get around the back of their defence that way.

He still followed an instinct to join the attack when he could and, issues with niggling injuries behind him, the 24-year-old is playing as well now as at any point since his arrival.