REPORT | Gresford Athletic 0-3 Widnes
Widnes chalk up comfortable victory
Widnes stepped up their preparations for the new season as they ran out comfortable winners over Gresford Athletic at Clappers Lane on Tuesday night.
A well-taken Ben Hodkinson effort had Widnes in the ascendancy at half-time, while second half goals from Dale Korie-Butler and Tom Croughan added gloss to the scoreline.
Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey’s side were handed a boost with duo Chris Lomax and Jack Graham both featuring for the first time during pre-season.
Lomax was the first to threaten for the visitors, latching on to a Croughan through-ball only to be denied by the outstretched glove of Gresford goalkeeper Michael Jones.
Jones was called into action six minutes later as Jamie Rainford capitalised on a defensive error to race clear but the Gresford goalkeeper was out quickly to tip the striker’s effort on to the post.
The opening goal came on the stroke of half-time. Danny Ventre produced a moment of quality, floating a ball over the top of the Gresford defence for Hodkinson to race on to and roll a shot beyond Jones and into the far corner.
Widnes looked like an improved outfit in the second half with skipper Kev Pollard going close as he headed over from close-range before Hodkinson hooked a shot off target minutes later.
Hodkinson turned provider on the hour as Widnes doubled their advantage. The former Bootle man twisted and turned on the far side to fizz a cross towards the near-post where Korie-Butler was on-hand to peel away from his marker and poke the ball home.
The visitors began to exude confidence, adding a third 20 minutes from time.
An incisive break down the right-hand side was led by Peter Doran’s driving run, with Hodkinson holding the ball up well for Korie-Butler to get involved. It was his delivery that found Croughan in space in the area to direct a powerful header into the back of the net.
Croughan almost netted a second in as many minutes but he could only find the side-netting with a volley, before Phil Doran probed forward, picking out Hodkinson with a deep cross who nodded over.
Doran seemed intent on scoring, and he almost netted a fourth for Widnes inside stoppage time. He drove an effort on goal that was beaten away by Jones, only to pounce on the rebound but Jones was alert to make a comfortable save.
Widnes are back in action on Saturday with their first taste of competitive action this season, taking on Runcorn Linnets in the North West Counties League Challenge Cup on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.
Widnes first half XI: Richie Mottram, Jay Roberts, Dylan Sweeney, Kev Pollard, Mike Burke, Ben Cartwright (Michael Grogan 30), Jack Graham, Sam Sheen (Danny Ventre 30), Tom Croughan (Ben Hodkinson 30), Jamie Rainford, Chris Lomax
Widnes second half XI: Richie Mottram, Peter Doran, Bram Johnstone, Kev Pollard (Ben Cartwright 60), Mike Burke (Sam Sheen 60), Michael Grogan, Dale Korie-Butler, Danny Ventre, Ben Hodkinson, Jamie Rainford (Tom Croughan 60), Phil Doran