REPORT: Widnes 2-2 1874 Northwich
Webb levels late as Widnes fight back to take a valuable point
A familiar mix of resilience and a never-say-die attitude helped Widnes FC fight back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to salvage a valuable point against 1874 Northwich after a thrilling second half at the Select Security Stadium.
Despite a positive start, Widnes fell behind as Sam Hind opened the scoring on the 12-minute mark before Kazim Waite-Jackson extended 1874’s lead 13 minutes later.
Having found themselves staring defeat in the face in their previous two league outings only to go on to rescue a point, Steve Akrigg and Kevin Towey’s men emerged for the second half buoyed and skipper Kev Pollard led by example, netting his fourth goal of the season to halve 1874’s lead 10 minutes into the half.
It was substitute Billy Webb who had the last word, netting three minutes from time to bring the curtain down on a breathtaking second half.
Joint bosses Akrigg and Towey made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Barnton in midweek. Trio Tom Mitchell, Webb and Alex Davies dropped to the bench with Sam Sheen and Luke Edwards earning recalls while Brad Smart was handed a first start for the club.
Meanwhile, Tony Donaldson was rewarded for his late equaliser against the Villagers, earning himself a place in the starting 11 replacing the unavailable Sean Myler.
Widnes created their first opening with six minutes on the clock as Smart’s long-range effort but 1874 ‘keeper Greg Hall made a fairly comfortable save before being called into action again less than a minute later, pushing Jack Graham’s effort over the bar.
1874 took the lead on the 12-minute mark. Scott McGowan got in behind the Widnes backline and was afforded too much time to drive a low cross towards the back-post where Sam Hind was left unmarked to give his side the lead with an easy finish.
The visitors took control from this point onwards, spearheaded by the lively McGowan who led the line well for his side. Adam Whitlock hounded Mike Burke into an uncharacteristic error with McGowan picking up the loose ball only to shoot into the grateful gloves of Widnes custodian Richie Mottram.
1874 extended their lead to compound a miserable opening 25 minutes for Widnes. It was a well-crafted move as the visitors worked the ball into the area from a corner with Kazim Waite-Jackson on-hand to guide McGowan’s cutback into the back of the net beyond Mottram.
Winger Smart was looking to make an impression on his home debut for Widnes, as he turned provider as Akrigg and Towey’s side looked to establish a foothold in the game. His well-weighted ball over the top released Andy Gillespie but Jack Lever made a good recovery challenge to force a corner that ultimately came to nothing.
Halftime: Widnes 0-2 1874 Northwich
Widnes made a bright start to the second half but it was 1874 who created the half’s first opening as McGowan was again involved, latching on to Paul Connor’s through ball only to watch in despair as his angled attempt came back off the foot of the post before the hosts scrambled away the danger.
Widnes were then presented with an opportunity to make inroads in the game as 1874 ‘keeper Hall handled a back pass in his own area. The hosts were awarded an indirect free-kick, with Smart’s effort crashing against the body of Lee Jackson on its way behind for a corner.
It was from the resulting corner that Widnes pulled a goal back. Edwards’ corner was helped on at the near-post with skipper Pollard arriving late to find the back of the net with a cushioned volley that Hall couldn’t quite keep out.
Widnes had their tails up and pushed for a swift equaliser only to let themselves down by overplaying in key areas. Substitute Webb looked to make an immediate contribution following his introduction from the bench, as he shook off his marker with a magnificent turn only to see his effort beaten away by Hall.
Hall was in fine form on the day from his side, and he produced a trio of saves 20 minutes from time to preserve his side’s advantage. He was alert to make a double save to deny substitute Davies and skipper Pollard before making a terrific save to push Donaldson’s deflected save away to safety.
Chances were rare for 1874 as Widnes pushed forward but the travelling supporters thought that they’d wrapped up three points as McGowan’s shot deceived many 1874 fans as it nestled in the side-netting.
Since being appointed managers, Akrigg and Towey have instilled a new-found belief in their players that was at the forefront again on Saturday, as Widnes refused to give in, grabbing an equaliser three minutes from time.
Substitute Billy Webb pressed Lever into an error, quickly picking up the loose ball before driving a shot beyond the stricken Hall and into the roof of the net, sparking jubilant scenes amongst the home supporters.
It was no less than Widnes deserved for their second half performance, and they wanted more as the Whites smelt blood and felt that 1874 were there for the taking. The hosts forced a succession of corners but couldn’t capitalise, ultimately settling for a share of the spoils.
Fulltime: Widnes 2-2 1874 Northwich
Although they’re still awaiting their first win as joint bosses, Akrigg and Towey are beginning to build a resilient side full of character.
The duo will be looking for three points in their next outing as Widnes host Maine Road next Saturday.