A derby worth watching

This was a sixth meeting between the teams, and together they’ve produced a total of 19 goals – an average of more than three a game.

1874 Northwich have won on four occasions, although only by the narrowest margin each time.

Barnton’s solitary win was by a single goal as well.

What their latest encounter lacked in quality was more than compensated by incident, and no little spirit.

The Villagers seem to rouse themselves for these clashes, and their opponents again toiled to subdue their fervour.

They didn’t manage to back in August, when Jack Irlam’s goal earned for Barnton a merited share of the spoils from a vibrant 3-3 draw.

1874 Northwich gather momentum

It feels as if a defeat at Abbey Hey has been a point of departure for the team managed by Paul Bowyer and Wayne Goodison.

1874 have won three successive matches since, collecting six points to improve their position in the league table as well as progressing to the next stage of the FA Vase.

They twice let slip a lead when the teams met for a return fixture in August, and were on course to do the same when Chris Smith steered in an equaliser with 15 minutes left.

However they again demonstrated a strengthening resolve – the visitors had to reshuffle after Jack Lever limped off – to conjure a winning goal when substitutes Kyle Riley and Sam Hind combined.

Where next for Barnton?

In literal terms, to Hanley next Tuesday.

Once there they will try for 17th time to record a first victory of the campaign in the North West Counties League’s top-flight.

In defeat last night Steve Lloyd, the Barnton manager, saw plenty to be encouraged by.

His side was made makeshift by Niall Ford and Andrew Hollins both becoming unavailable in the hours before kick-off, and he had to reinvent right-winger Josh Crofts as a left-back.

Collectively they still showed enough spirit to haul themselves level twice before succumbing to Sam Hind’s late goal.

Curiously, at this stage last season Barnton had lost more games.

And, of course, they found a way out of trouble then…

In praise of Chris Smith

Barnton’s captain is a reason to feel optimistic they can avoid being relegated.

The former Congleton striker is in fine form, and has scored now in five of his past six appearances.

His tally for the campaign stands at 17 from 21 starts, and he is on target to smash last season’s total of 20 in all competitions.

Smith is impressively efficient, and he has to be.

After two glimpses of goal in the opening period, when he forced goalkeeper Greg Hall to save smartly with his second attempt, Smith was perfectly-placed to divert Ryan Malone’s cross into the net to make it 2-2.

He also fashioned the Villagers’ first equaliser with a lofted pass that Chris Bandell bravely converted.

Sam Hind’s timing is spot on, and not for the first time

1874 Northwich found a way to win, and it should surprise nobody that Sam Hind had a part to play.

He has been less prolific this season – last night’s goal was his seventh of the campaign – but rarely do his goals arrive after an outcome is already clear.

A goal in both meetings with West Didsbury & Chorlton in the FA Cup, as well as double that earned a replay against Mossley, are proof of that.

He has started from the bench since returning from a holiday, but served a reminder of how important he continues to be when he sent Kyle Riley’s set-up where Barnton goalkeeper Rob Cooke had no chance of reaching it.

Northwich Guardian:

Sam Hind's timing has been impeccable more than once this season, including in a 2-2 draw at Mossley in the FA Cup back in September. Picture: M Darlington Photography