Is Albion’s glass half-full or…?

A return of three defeats from four matches would normally be a cause for concern.

However Witton have played the leading four teams in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight, one after the other, in the space of just 10 days.

Warrington arrived in Northwich on the back of four successive wins while Farsley Celtic had seven straight victories behind them.

Leaders Nantwich were unbeaten in eight Premier Division matches, winning seven of those, and South Shields had the momentum of a 10-game run without losing.

Carl Macauley’s men can reasonably argue that their performances in each of those matches deserve a greater reward than a single victory against the Dabbers.

In praise of Rob Hopley

Witton’s captain helped them to turn the tide of a contest that had been almost entirely one-way in the first-half.

He was dominant in the air against South Shields’ defensive duo Jon Shaw and Dillon Morse after the interval, allowing teammates to take possession deep inside the visitors’ half.

It helped to push back opponents that had dominated the opening 45 minutes on every measure.

Hopley’s skill in the air made Albion more of a threat from set-pieces too, particularly when Anthony Gardner threw long into the penalty area.

He had a glimpse of goal when fizzing wide a near-post header from a James Foley corner, and thrashed a high volley over the bar too.

Northwich Guardian:

Rob Hopley leaps higher than opponent Gary Brown during a Witton Albion attack when they went down 1-0 against South Shields in the Northern Premier League on Saturday. Picture: Karl Brooks Photography

Search for home comforts continues

A fifth defeat of the campaign in front of their own supporters makes it easy to identify a priority on the ‘to do’ list when it comes to urgent improvement.

Only North Ferriby, who are bottom of the table and near-certain to be relegated, have collected fewer points from games on home turf so far.

Witton’s impressive form on the road has been a welcome relief from their problems at Wincham Park, but those woes need banishing.

They have scored just 11 goals in as many games there too.

Fortunately, five of the Premier Division’s top-six sides have now visited.

Are Albion too narrow?

It’s a debate that has continued most of the campaign among Witton’s supporters.

The absence of Danny McKenna always deprives Albion of quality delivery from the flanks, and this game served as a reminder of that.

Carl Macauley prefers a diamond shape in midfield, placing a heavy emphasis on full-backs Anthony Gardner and Matty Devine to attack from wide positions.

Both of them were more prominent in the second-half following a switch to 4-3-3 that made it more difficult – and increasingly risky – for South Shields to play out from defence.

Of greater concern, perhaps, is a lack of acceleration or speed to stretch the opposition.

Jordan Cobley can provide that.

Northwich Guardian:

Matty Devine sends a cross into South Shields' penalty area during a Witton Albion attack at Wincham Park on Saturday. Picture: Karl Brooks Photography

Nerve, nous and determination

There is defiance in this group, and they demonstrated it again.

Witton barely had a kick in the first-half dominated by their opponents who spent almost all of it in their territory and moved the ball around with impressive verve.

An interval adjustment, coupled with an injury to South Shields striker Carl Finnigan who was replaced by an inferior Ben Harmison, helped them to recover.

They had chances to score an equaliser, and can make a case they ought to have pinched a point.

Those are traits they will need between now and the end of the season to ensure they aren’t drawn into a battle to beat the drop.