A cathartic moment

Witton really needed this one.

A sequence of five defeats from their previous seven matches, including a narrow 1-0 reverse in their past two away games, left them three points clear of the relegation zone before kick-off at Bower Fold.

That margin is twice as wide now, and Carl Macauley’s men have at least three games in hand on teams below them in the table with the exception of a resurgent Workington.

There is still work to do, but a seventh away victory of the campaign – no team outside of the top five has more – provides reassurance they can be effective away from Wincham Park.

Scoring while in the ascendancy

Tom Owens’ goal, Witton’s second, put them out of their opponents’ reach.

More importantly, it arrived during their best – and most sustained – spell of attacking pressure in the match.

Josh Wardle and Danny McKenna had both seen shots strike a post, while Stalybridge Celtic goalkeeper Paddy Wharton produced a brilliant instinctive save to thwart Will Booth, in the minutes before Owens nudged Rob Hopley’s flick-on over the line from close-range.

It was a neat contrast to the first meeting between these teams in Northwich earlier this season when Albion laid siege to Celtic’s goal inside the opening half-hour and only had James Foley’s penalty to show for their dominance.

They went on to lose 3-1.

Be wary of ill-discipline

“That’s cheap!”

The voice of Witton assistant manager Gary Martindale boomed across Bower Fold in response to a petty foul by River Humphreys on Dan Cockerline before the break.

It was the latest in a series of infringements during the first-half when Albion invited their hosts to send a cross into the penalty area from inside the attacking third.

On this occasion, they got away with it.

In general, Humphreys and defensive partner Josh Wardle handled the considerable threat posed by Cockerline – along with fellow attackers Matty Wolfenden and Scott Bakkor – with impressive authority.

They were both cautioned for kicking the ball away too, another example of petulance that may not go unpunished next time.

In praise of Will Booth

Another exceptional performance from a player that Witton’s supporters chose as their side’s best performer during January.

The Knutsford-based midfielder has had to wait for an opportunity to show what he is capable of, but has quickly established himself in the past six weeks.

He was unlucky not to be rewarded for a brilliant piece of intuition when he pinched the ball from a dawdling Olly Marx in the opening period.

It did not dampen the enthusiasm with which he was greeted by a sizeable contingent of travelling supporters when he made way for Billy Smart late on.

“I thought he was immense again,” was manager Carl Macauley’s verdict afterwards.

Finding a combination that works

Macauley picked newcomer Osebi Abadaki to start, stationing him wide left and Danny McKenna on the right during the first-half.

Owens played closest to Hopley, and James Foley operated in a central position alongside Booth.

Abadaki’s speed, and crossing ability, was a feature of the visitors’ best attacking moments and at last they have a player capable of stretching defences.

“I wanted to address our lack of goals,” said Macauley afterwards.

“That’s the reason we put Abadaki out wide and we asked him to get into space behind their full-back and get balls in the box.

“We got two goals and probably should have had more.”

 It worked a treat.