ANDY Preece hailed Northwich Victoria’s last-minute match-winner Kwame Barnett following his team’s opening day success at Retford United.

The Vics boss threw on the front-runner with a quarter hour to play and his faith was repaid when the replacement conjured a fine winner in stoppage time.

Barnett spun his marker before angling a smart finish across keeper Richard Jeffries.

“We know what Kwame can do if we can get the ball to him in and around the box,” said Preece.

“He rolled his marker ever so well, composed himself, got the old swinger out and applied the finishing touch.

“Everybody is delighted for him – the lads were buzzing in the changing room after the game.”

Before Barnett’s arrival a Northwich winner had seemed unlikely.

The visitors dominated possession and spent most of the match in their opponents’ territory, but were restricted to glimpses of goal.

Jonathan Crane came closest, steering a left-foot volley off target at the end of the first half.

“I was starting to think that we might have to settle for a draw because we began to lose that bit of control we had in the centre of the field,” added Preece.

“So I changed the system to put two up front with Ollie [Ryan] in behind.

“I have to admit though that it looked like Retford had done enough to earn themselves a point.

“Having said that I felt we did more than they did to win the game and deserved the victory as a result of that.”

Preece also claimed the visitors should have been awarded a penalty when White appeared to pull down Barnett.

“No doubt about it,” he said.

“Their defender went straight through the back of him.”

At the other end Retford’s threat was seldom, Vics’ keeper James Spencer not making a single save in the entire 90 minutes.

He played behind a back line of four debutants – John Disney, Matthew Brown and loan pair Ferenc Fodor and Adam Sumner.

“I thought we looked solid defensively,” said Preece.

“Plus we were without Wayne [Riley] and John [McAliskey] who could have given us something a little bit different in the final third of the field.

“It’s a good start and we’ve got something to build on now.”

Vics return to action at home to Bradford Park Avenue – 2-1 victors against Chasetown on Saturday – on Tuesday, kick off 7.45pm.

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