THE good news for Northwich Victoria is they have finally ended a wait to beat 1874 Northwich.

If a boxing analogy isn’t entirely apt, for this wasn’t a slugfest, they did land a knockout blow with a one-two combination precisely when they appeared most vulnerable.

Steve Wilkes’ side were streetwise, more so than their opponents, and it made the difference.

Rob Doran and Harvey Whyte found the net during a six-minute spell after the teams reached the interval on level terms and, even though they sweated after Scott McGowan converted a penalty for 1874 to make it 3-2, Vics held on to take maximum points.

While a rash tackle from debutant Jack Fleming to concede the spot-kick showed the visitors a way back into the game, they toiled to find the path to an equaliser.

With injuries and illness ruling out regulars, and with captain Matthew Woolley at former goalkeeper Matthew Conkie’s wedding, they fielded four players with less than 10 starts between them this season.

One of them, Jack Lever, hasn’t featured at all.

They made them feel brittle.

Vics sensed as much, and their first glimpse of goal followed confusion between Lever and Paul Connor.

The former recovered to block Darrhyl Mason’s shot before Doran spun away from Jack Pritchard and prompted custodian James Coates to block smartly.

A breakthrough followed on 25 minutes when Andy Fitzgerald reached Whyte’s free-kick before 1874’s number one and his header had crossed the line before a defender hacked the ball clear.

1874 teetered, and Mason scuffed a shot over before Doran’s perfect leap was undone by imperfect timing when he connected with another set-piece.

Perhaps encouraged they had weathered a storm, 1874 ventured forward in the closing stages.

Taylor Kennerley used one touch to move away from a defender before drilling low with his second, forcing Vics goalkeeper Danny Taberner to produce a brilliant save.

He reacted swiftly too to divert McGowan’s attempt from the rebound.

1874 conjured an equaliser from their best move of the match after Michael Koral drifted inside from the right.

He pirouetted to escape an opponent before sliding a measured pass into Sam Hare’s path and he finished neatly.

They carried that momentum into the second-half and Koral teed up McGowan, his rising shot tipped over by Taberner.

Even while applying pressure they remained vulnerable and twice the home team counter swiftly after taking possession from an 1874 corner.

At the end of the first, Joel Brownhill was thwarted by Coates’ smothering save.

From the second, Doran skewed an effort off-target.

He was more accurate after leaping highest, and unchallenged, to meet Whyte’s free-kick to restore Vics’ lead.

Whyte then celebrated a goal his individual performance deserved when he spun and shot in the same movement Mason made forward progress on the left.

It put distance between the rivals on the scoreboard, a gap that narrowed when McGowan dispatched a penalty after Fleming mistimed a tackle on Koral.

Up off the canvas, 1874 could spar again.

A slick combination that involved Lee Jackson, McGowan and Hare sent substitute Kazim Waite-Jackson into space behind the defence only for Fitzgerald to smuggle the latter’s cross clear.

They did not threaten again though and Vics’ eighth attempt to beat them since a first meeting two years ago was successful.

Vics | 4-3-3 | Taberner (GK), Camozzi, Fitzgerald, Barski, Fleming, Whyte, Cooke, Clarke, Brownhill (Darr 87), Doran (Craig 90), Mason Subs not used Whittle, Kenny, Monson Goals Fitzgerald 25, Doran 58, Whyte 64 Booked Barski (foul)

1874 | 4-2-3-1 | Coates (GK), Connor, Lever, Pritchard, Lee Jackson, Ormrod (Waite-Jackson 65), Irlam, Koral, Hare, Kennerley, McGowan Subs not used Gardner, Johnstone, Phipps, Rigby (GK) Goals Hare 45, McGowan 68 (penalty) Booked Connor, Kennerley (both fouls)

Referee Dale Baines

Attendance 417