Should Leamington’s goalkeeper have been sent off?

Referee Greg Rollason thought not.

He did caution Tony Breeden for handling outside of his penalty area, in the process denying James Foley an opportunity to chase after a ball the midfielder had tried to knock past him.

The Witton man defied a risible attempt by Leamington’s back four to catch him offside, running clear onto Liam Goulding’s chipped pass.

Carl Macauley told the Guardian after the game the match official had invited him into his dressing room during the interval to explain.

“His explanation was there were two defenders behind the goalkeeper when he made contact with the ball,” said the Albion boss.

“If the keeper knew that, then why did he handle it?”

A replay of the incident – the game was filmed by the hosts – could vindicate Rollason.

Reflecting on a job well done

While understandably disappointed at the outcome of a tie that his side had dominated, Witton boss Carl Macauley was philosophical too after the final whistle.

Albion have won five games between the FA Cup and FA Trophy this season, a tally that has brought in close to £40,000 in prize money payments alone.

That sequence has included victories against higher-ranked opponents in the form of Spennymoor Town and FC United of Manchester.

Even in defeat, against Solihull Moors and then Leamington, Witton have performed more than credibly.

“We’ve had great runs in both competitions,” said Macauley.

“These players have done me proud, and I’ve told them that again after this game, and the supporters too.”

Have Witton found a winning formula?

Macauley chose to stick with a line-up, and formation, that delivered such a resounding success at Buxton seven days earlier.

And it worked once again.

Will Jones picked up where he had left off at Silverlands, and his physical presence noticeably unsettled the Brakes’ central defenders Jamie Hood and James Mace.

Indeed he played a pivotal part in Albion’s goal, trading passes with Tom Owens after taming Anthony Gardner’s lofted ball before sweeping a perfect assist into James Foley’s path.

It is obvious that Witton’s midfielders, in particular Owens, Foley and Danny McKenna, are enjoying the freedom they have to support a lone front man.

Encouragingly for Macauley, Rob Hopley slotted seamlessly into the role following Jones’ departure through injury.

The value of a volunteer

Will Jones fell awkwardly, and heavily, after challenging for a ball crossed into the Leamington penalty area towards the end of the first-half.

He received treatment initially from Carl Rutter, Witton’s sports therapist, who signalled he would need to be replaced.

Leamington press officer Paul Edwards reported that Lizzie Fisher, a Brakes supporter and paramedic, tended to the striker in the visitors’ dressing room before he went to a nearby hospital for a check-up.

“Her mum told me Lizzie was coming to the game but she didn’t appear until late in the second-half because she’d been looking after Will,” he said.

Carl Macauley reported that Jones was sore from the impact of his fall but had suffered no serious damage.

Northwich Guardian:

Witton Albion's sports therapist Carl Rutter, left, accompanies Will Jones from the field during the first-half on Saturday after the front man had fallen heavily inside Leamington's penalty area. Picture: Karl Brooks Photography

Where now for Witton?

In the short-term, to Gainsborough Trinity.

And their recent improvement will be examined by hosts who have won six of the seven Northern Premier League fixtures played in front of their own supporters this season.

November has been a month of growth for Witton though; a victory against Lancaster after playing with 10 men for more than an hour demonstrated their resilience.

They were superior to Stalybridge for the first half-hour of the next game before fading badly after failing to convert a series of chances ahead of Matty Wolfenden’s equaliser.

That was followed with an authoritative dismissal of AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the FA Trophy and sparkling performances against Buxton and Leamington.

They need to climb the Premier Division table from a lowly starting point, but in this form can do so quickly.