Jack Owen provides his verdict on Damian Crossley’s first game in charge of 1874 Northwich, a 1-1 draw at Hednesford Town which gave them their first point in six matches…

1874 picked up their first points in Northern Premier League West since October with a 1-1 draw in Staffordshire where new manager Damian Crossley picked the team for the first time.

‘74 started fast out of the traps and took the lead in the fourth minute.

Jamie Nicholson was played in down the left, he beat his man and drilled a low strike into the bottom corner.

1874 were now in the mood and went for more.

Nicholson, again down the left, played a low cross towards the back post where Max Chimenes could not get on the end of it at full stretch.

The hosts’ keeper was busy again as Lucas Weir curled a free kick towards goal and he was at full stretch to tip the effort behind.

A flowing move saw Weir arrive late in the box only to see his shot cleared off the line.

Matty Fenton went close next. He rose highest to head wide of the goal as the keeper was stranded.

Hednesford levelled on the 26th minute with their first attack of the game.

Left full-back Jack Kelly thumped in an unstoppable effort from a tight angle after a deep cross found him unmarked.

‘74 pushed again to retake the lead, Nicholson dancing around three defenders who had no answer for him only for their keeper to tip over his effort for a corner.

The second half brought about a much tighter affair.

Hednesford looked much brighter and especially through Jai Verma.

The forward cut inside from the left and drove a thunderous effort off the ‘74 crossbar and the danger was cleared at the second attempt.

1874 should have had their lead back through Weir.

His free kick whipped into the box went over home keeper Boucher and into the back of the net. With no meaningful contact he went down and the referee gave a free kick and disallowed the goal, with ‘74 players watching on confused.

The game now had a very end-to-end feel.

‘74 were denied by a double save, with Weir’s free kick saved well then Matty Birchall, who was introduced from the bench, had a snapshot turned behind for a corner.

Keeper Ellis Allen saw red on the 87th minute as he was adjudged to have fouled Hednesford forward Callum Niven, with captain Matthew Fenton stepping up to go in goal.

‘74 defended bravely and protected their goal as Hednesford pushed for a winner, with a low drive from the dangerous Verma hitting the post but it was as close as they came.