REPORT: West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-1 Widnes
Opening day disappointment for Widnes
Life in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division began on a sour note for Widnes, as they went down 3-1 away at West Didsbury & Chorlton.
The hosts opened the scoring on 18 minutes as Nic Evangelinos swept home following a Tom Bailey flick-on before adding his second following the half-hour mark, heading in off the underside of the crossbar.
It was 3-0 at the break as Bailey got on the scoresheet himself late in the half, finding the net from close-range.
West were reduced to 10-men following the half-time interval, as Daryl Weston was sent off for a lunge on Kev Towey.
Widnes then began to pile the pressure on their hosts and pulled a goal back 20 minutes from time as Anthony Potts diverted a Chris Lomax cross into his own net in what proved to be little more than a consolation for Joey Dunn’s men.
Four summer signings were included in Dunn’s side for their Premier Division opener after last season’s title-winning campaign in the First Division. Goalkeeper Louis Mackin, defender Michael White and midfielder Colin Quirk all retained their places from last week’s FA Cup defeat, with Sean Myler being handed a debut after completing his move to the club on Friday.
Both sides started well but the first clear-cut chance fell to Widnes and it was one that went begging. Quirk lifted a dangerous free-kick into the area that was won aerially by George Lomax, with his flick-on falling to Towey who fired over from close-range.
Despite their positive start, Widnes fell behind as a long-ball was cleverly flicked-on by Bailey who beat White to the ball, releasing teammate Evangelinos into space who swept home the opening goal beyond Mackin.
Widnes continued to press despite suffering a setback with Quirk heavily involved as his clever turn engineered space to drive into the area and deliver a dangerous cross that was well dealt with by West.
A George Lomax header then called Aaron Ashley into action, who made a decent save before Carlos Mendes-Gomes twisted and turned for West only to fire a long-range effort over the bar.
West increased their lead following the half-hour mark. Joshua Tinker’s delicious ball in from the right found Evangelinos at the back-post, who peeled away from his man to find the net with a towering header, in off the underside of the crossbar.
Widnes should have reduced the deficit less than two minutes later but Mike Burke could only head straight into Ashley’s grateful gloves from a Quirk corner.
Despite the scoreline, Widnes controlled possession for the majority of the first-half but couldn’t make their chances count. The visitors were suffering from misfortune in front of goal, as Towey saw an initial effort blocked by Ashley before West defender Potts managed to hook Towey’s rebound off the line.
Less than a minute later, West punished Widnes for their inefficiencies in front of goal as the hosts grabbed a third. It was a soft goal to concede as West pounced on a wayward Burke pass with Bailey racing on to a through-ball before firing home from an acute angle.
Halftime: West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-0 Widnes
Widnes upped their intensity in the second half in attempt to breach a stout West backline. Jay Roberts released Lomax into space but the striker could only drag his effort wide as he approached goal.
The game’s biggest talking point came eight minutes into the half as West were reduced to 10-men. Daryl Weston was shown his marching orders for a late lunge on Towey, who was caught by the studs of the West man leaving the referee with little choice but to brandish his red card.
With the benefit of a one-man advantage, it took a stunning Ashley save to deny Widnes from pulling a goal back as the hour-mark beckoned. Quirk’s header from inside the area looked destined to nestle in the back of the net, only for Ashley to make a superb diving save to push the ball away to safety.
Widnes were then denied by the woodwork. Debutant Myler tried his luck from the edge of the D, striking the ball well only to be denied a debut goal by the foot of the post with Ashley beaten.
You could sense that a Widnes goal was coming and it came 20 minutes from time. Substitute Chris Lomax found space on the left to deliver a well-weighted cross into the area that was diverted into his own net by West defender Anthony Potts, giving Widnes hope of perhaps rescuing a point.
Luke Edwards and Chad Whyte were both introduced from the bench but Widnes struggled to penetrate West’s defensive line that held firm and limited the visitors to long-range efforts as Quirk drove a shot wide before Ashley comfortably saved Myler’s daisy-cutter.
Widnes had the ball in the net six minutes from time as Towey rolled a shot home after rounding Ashley, only to be flagged offside by the linesman on the near-side.
Towey again went close inside stoppage time, only to be denied by the crossbar after latching on to Chris Lomax’s cross.
Fulltime: West Didsbury & Chorlton 3-1 Widnes
Widnes will be looking to bounce back from their opening day defeat at the earliest opportunity as Dunn’s side travel to Abbey Hey in midweek.