REPORT: Eccleshall 1-3 Widnes
Debutants decisive in Widnes win
|Match Report by Callum Chadwick
A brace from debutant Neil Harvey and a late header from Jason McShane ensured that Widnes returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory at bottom club Eccleshall.
Having signed from Runcorn Town earlier in the week, former Barbados International Harvey wasted little time in opening his account for his new club, netting the game’s opener in the second minute before adding his second 10 minutes later.
Eccleshall rallied and pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time through Jonathon Hancock. Despite a tight and somewhat nervy second half, Widnes wrapped things up as Jason McShane headed home three minutes from time.
Widnes made five changes to the side that were beaten by Alsager Town on Monday night. Goalkeeper Josh Cook, defender Brandon Rigg, Harvey and Ryan Malone were all handed debuts as they came in for Richie Mottram, Jack Riley, Kev Towey and Dale Korie-Butler. Keeper Cook and defender Rigg arrived from Warrington Town and Stoke City earlier in the week whilst Malone finally made his debut following a lengthy injury absence.
Jon Dawson also returned to the starting eleven, replacing Matt Rigby.
Widnes got off to a flyer and took a second minute lead. Neil Harvey waited all of 120 seconds for his first Widnes goal, seeing an initial effort saved by Eccleshall keeper Ben Chapman, before pouncing on the rebound to put the visitors ahead.
Widnes were inches away from a second minutes later. Defender Tom Mitchell played a great ball through to Darrhyl Mason who turned Daniel Colclough inside out before teeing up Jason McShane, whose venomous drive rattled the crossbar before bouncing down on the line and away from goal.
Less than a minute later, Widnes doubled their lead. Jon Dawson and Jack Graham played a corner short allowing the latter to force a good save out of Chapman, who could only parry the ball into the path of Harvey, who turned the ball home to record his second debut goal.
Widnes took their foot of the gas following their quick fire double but still looked threatening going forward. Dawson and Malone both fired efforts over the bar, whilst Jason McShane drilled a shot into the gloves of Chapman.
On the stroke of half-time, Eccleshall pulled a goal back. Travis Johnson floated the ball into the area allowing Jonathon Hancock to rise highest and find the bottom corner with his header.
Halftime: Eccleshall 1-2 Widnes
Eccleshall began to grow into the game late in the first half and continued to improve in the second half. Mitchell Brown linked up with Joseph Burke with the latter surging into the area before being denied by a good challenge from Widnes’ Mitchell.
Widnes continued to look dangerous but resolute defending from the hosts held the visitors to half-chances. Jason McShane managed to hold off a challenge and release Mason who could only shoot over the bar, whilst Jack Graham forced a solid save out of Chapman with a free-kick.
Midway through the second half, Widnes had a penalty shout turned down as Mason looked to have been bundled over in the area. However, the Widnes shouts were muted as referee Aaron Fowler waved away the protests.
Eccleshall started to press, sensing an opportunity to possibly record their first point of the season. Brown got the better of Rigg before laying the ball off to Thomas Wakefield who slices his effort high and wide of the target. Wakefield tried to make amends two minutes later, but this time he drilled his effort over the bar.
Defender Rigg fired over for Widnes not long afterwards. Graham and Jason McShane exchanged passes and worked the ball over to the Widnes right-back, who cut inside but couldn’t hit the target with his effort.
Widnes wasted a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed ten minutes from time. Mason unselfishly played the ball through to strike-partner Harvey who was on a hat-trick. However, the debutant couldn’t quite net a third as he fluffed his lines and fired straight at Chapman.
Widnes eventually did bag a third three minutes from time. It was a well-worked goal from the visitors as Rigg linked up with Graham, who delivered an inch-perfect cross to the back-post where substitute Luke Edwards was on-hand to head back across goal, allowing Jason McShane to divert the ball home with a diving header to secure all three points for Widnes.
Fulltime: Eccleshall 1-3 Widnes
Due to Cheadle Town’s progression to the First Round Qualifying of the FA Cup, Widnes are without a game next Saturday as scheduled hosts Cheadle travel to Trafford.
Therefore, Widnes’ next outing takes place next Monday (5th September) as Whitchurch Alport visit the Select Security Stadum.
Eccleshall: Chapman, Dyer, Farrington, Haynes, Colclough, Brown, Johnson (Ball 70), Wakefield, Hancock, Brown, Burke (Flanaghan 85).
Subs not used: Harrison.
Widnes: Cook, Rigg, Dawson, Pollard (C), James McShane, Mitchell, Graham, Jason McShane, Mason (Webster 81), Harvey (Korie-Butler 83), Malone (Edwards 51).
Subs not used: Fielding, L.J. Edwards.