Play to the (final) whistle with 1874

1874 Northwich have played 15 matches in all competitions this season.

And 10 of the 31 goals they’ve scored – almost a third – have been scored in the final quarter of an hour.

On three occasions in the FA Cup alone, a late strike has rescued them from a losing position.

Substitute Adam Whitlock took his turn to be a saviour on Saturday, firing home an equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time after visitors Ossett Town had taken the lead only 60 seconds earlier.

“Our first comment to the lads, once we’d quietened them down, was to joke that they really don’t want to go out of this competition,” said co-manager Wayne Goodison afterwards.

“They laughed because it’s true!”

Run harder, and for longer

A refusal to accept a defeat among Northwich’s players is matched by their physical condition.

On a pitch made sodden by torrential rain, they showed superior stamina to opponents that wilted in the closing stages.

That was encapsulated in one lung-bursting forward charge by 1874 left-back Lee Jackson, who swapped passes with wide man Taylor Kennerley before earning a corner when his cross was deflected to safety by a defender.

“Physically, we’re strong,” said co-manager Wayne Goodison afterwards.

“It makes me smile because to some people running has become a bit of a dirty word in football.

“But there’s not point having technical ability if you can’t get around the pitch.

“Everybody’s fitness is good, and their attitude has shown a willingness to work on that side of the game.”

Northwich Guardian:

Full-back Paul Connor and his 1874 Northwich teammates finished strongly in testing conditions against Ossett Town on Saturday. Picture: Ian Dutton

In praise of Mark Jones

The popular midfielder returned to the starting line-up for probably the biggest game in 1874 Northwich’s short history, standing in for Sam Hind who was unavailable.

A foot injury sustained in pre-season has kept him out until now, although he left a mark by steering the deftest of headers into the bottom corner to make it 1-1 shortly after half-time.

He struggled to influence the game before the break in a more advanced position supporting Scott McGowan in attack, in part because Ossett’s own pressing prompted the home team to concede possession often and cheaply.

The 31-year-old was more prominent later, dropping deeper as he inevitably tired, and demonstrated the tactical and positional intelligence that makes him such an asset.

Northwich Guardian:

Taylor Kennerley, left, congratulates Mark Jones following his headed goal that levelled the scores at 1-1 during an FA Cup third qualifying round encounter with Ossett Town on Saturday. Picture: Ian Dutton

Advantage Ossett, now?

Perhaps, and the West Yorkshire outfit has progressed in two previous rounds by winning in front of their own supporters.

However their home record in the Northern Premier League has been a concern, and they ended a sequence of three successive defeats at Ingfield with a slender 1-0 success against Mossley last Tuesday.

Scarborough, Droylsden and South Shields had all left with maximum points previously.

1874 have won a replay away from home on two occasions this term, at West Didsbury & Chorlton in the FA Cup preliminary round and then against Congleton Town in the FA Vase last week.

“For me, it’s still 50-50,” said Wayne Goodison, joint-manager at 1874.

“I don’t think they’ll approach the second game much differently, and nor will we.

“If anything, there is more pressure on them as a higher-ranked side playing at home.”

Falling behind

When 1874 Northwich host promotion-hopefuls Runcorn Linnets next Saturday, it will be only their fifth fixture of the campaign in the North West Counties League.

They played a single Premier Division fixture during September – a 1-1 draw at home to City of Liverpool – and have slipped into the table’s bottom-half as a result.

A backlog is inevitable, and will test a squad depleted already by the long-term absences of Ryan Jackson, Danny Thomas and Joe Woolley.

The latter had surgery on his left knee at the weekend, and is unlikely to play again this season.

The situation has not been helped by five of 1874’s knockout ties needing a second game to settle the outcome.

“We’ve got lads who are ready to play,” remarked 1874 co-boss Wayne Goodison.

“Their approach has been spot on, and they know we’ll need them.”