REPORT: Widnes 3-1 Daisy Hill
Champions Widnes sign-off with final day victory
Kev Towey’s fourth hat-trick of the season ensured that Hallmark Security League First Division Champions Widnes FC signed off in style with a 3-1 win over Daisy Hill.
The visitors looked to play party-poopers and took a second minute lead as Hensley Mills found the back of the net from close-range before Towey netted his first of the afternoon to equalise on the stroke of the half-hour mark.
Towey headed home his second three minutes before the break and completed his hat-trick in the dying moments with a simple finish at the back-post.
Manager Joey Dunn made four changes to the side that secured promotion and the title at AFC Blackpool on Tuesday. Quartet Jay Roberts, Chad Whyte, George Lomax and Sam Sheen all dropped to the bench and were replaced in the starting lineup by Adam Weston, Luke J Edwards, Billy Webb and Chris Lomax.
With the title celebration firmly on their minds, Widnes started slowly and found themselves behind after two minutes. The hosts failed to deal with Jordan Donnelly’s cross that found Hensley Mills at the back-post, who got to the ball before Steve Akrigg to roll a shot into the bottom corner.
The champions were being undone by sloppy play against a Daisy Hill team determined to end their season on a high and spoil Widnes’ title party. The visitors were perhaps unfortunate not add a second 10 minutes later as skipper Kev Pollard lost possession in the area with Ashley Stott firing a shot straight into the body of Akrigg.
Widnes eventually settled down and grew into the game. Pollard went close from an Edwards corner as he got the better of his marker only to head wide of the target when he really should have tested Daisy ‘keeper Haynes at the very least.
Edwards then drove a shot wide before Chris Lomax could only divert Towey’s clever through-ball wide of the target.
A goal was coming as Daisy continued to hold firm against Widnes’ sustained pressure only to see their resistance broken on the stroke of the half-hour mark.
Edwards delivered an inviting corner into the area and Towey did well to shake off Warburton before nodding the ball beyond Haynes and into the back of the net.
It took a superb reaction save from Widnes’ Owen Wheeler to prevent Daisy Hill from restoring their advantage. Wheeler did well to get a glove on a corner before reacting quickly to block Donnelly’s hooked shot towards goal.
Widnes then saw a chance go begging as Mike Burke released Lomax down the channel and into the area but the winger flashed a shot across the face of goal and agonisingly wide of the far-post.
Daisy ‘keeper Haynes was called into action five minutes before the break as Edwards evaded the offside trap to latch on to Akrigg’s lifted through ball and fire a well-timed volley towards goal that was beaten away to safety by the visitors’ shot-stopper.
From the resulting corner, Widnes took the lead and the same combination combined for Widnes’ second. Edwards floated a corner into the area and found Towey, who was unmarked to lift his glancing header over the stranded Haynes, nestling in the back of the net.
Halftime: Widnes 2-1 Daisy Hill
The second half was a relaxed affair with Widnes holding a comfortable lead that was rarely troubled by the visitors.
The hosts were inches away from increasing their lead as Akrigg’s well-weighted through-ball released Edwards into space. The midfielder looked to apply a further assist as he found Billy Webb inside the six-yard area who diverted his shot against the crossbar, with the ball bouncing down on the line and away to safety.
Sheen and Whyte were both introduced from the bench as Widnes went in search of a third. Jack Graham burst into space down the right with his cutback finding Edwards in the area, with Haynes getting out quickly to block the shot with his legs.
Widnes came again and were once again denied by Haynes. Edwards superbly hit a cross field pass to Lomax on the far side. He had time and space to curl a delicious ball into the area that was hooked towards goal by substitute Whyte, who was denied by a superb reaction save from the Daisy No.1.
Whyte went close again minutes later as he received an Edwards pass and used his quick-feet to open up space for a shot that rolled inches past the post.
Towey completed his hat-trick with less than one minute remaining before stoppage time as Widnes put the match to bed. Edwards lifted a pass over the backline to substitute Sheen who provided a cross towards the back-post where Towey was on-hand to apply a simple finish after a clever Whyte dummy.
Fulltime: Widnes 3-1 Daisy Hill
Celebrations began in earnest following the full-time whistle as Widnes were presented with the First Division trophy by Hallmark Security League Chairman Paul Lawler.
The trophy presentation caps off a remarkable season, particularly under the management of Joey Dunn who took charge in September. Widnes only lost twice under Dunn and ended the season with 14 consecutive league wins.
Widnes will compete in the Premier Division for the first time in the club’s history next season and will also make their debut in the world-famous FA Cup – a berth secured by their league finish.