REPORT: Burscough 0-1 Widnes
Widnes grind out 10th consecutive win
Brad Smart’s 44th minute strike proved to be the winner as Widnes FC recorded a 10th straight win in all competitions with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Burscough.
Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey’s men were made to work for the victory against a plucky Burscough outfit, but Smart’s strike on the stroke of half-time ensured that Widnes picked up three points to remain in third place in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division.
Widnes made three changes to the side that beat Congleton Town before Christmas. With Ben Hodkinson suspended, Smart was restored to the starting line-up alongside Towey while Chris Lomax and Sean Myler were both handed recalls as Danny Laverty and Tony Donaldson dropped to the bench.
On a boggy pitch that proved to be a leveller, Widnes initially struggled to find a rhythm as Burscough started well. Peter Henerty twice threatened, drilling over before forcing a decent save out of former Linnet Richie Mottram.
In truth, the game lacked real quality throughout as Burscough rarely troubled Widnes’ backline but the visitors struggled to adapt to the playing surface that hindered Akrigg and Towey’s side, who like to get the ball down and play.
Widnes were restricted to half-chances with Sam Sheen striking over before Towey’s clever backheel released Jack Banister in behind, but the ball ran away from the Widnes winger as Joshua Samberg collected the loose ball.
Ex-Widnes striker Chad Whyte was proving to be handful for Burscough. He did well to get the wrong side of Kev Pollard before surging forward on a decent run forward. However, the move broke down under pressure from Mike Burke allowing Mottram to sweep away the danger.
The all-important moment arrived for Widnes on the stroke of half-time, who produced the game’s first bit of quality, producing the goods.
Towey persisted, twisting and turning on the edge of the area before driving forward. He cleverly took Danny Brady out of position, squaring his cross into the feet of Smart who did the rest, turning away from his man to nestle a shot in the back of the net.
The second half also lacked quality, with neither side looking particularly threatening despite their best efforts.
Whyte had a free header from a corner comfortably held by Mottram before Widnes skipper Pollard couldn’t direct Lomax’s flighted corner goalwards.
Burscough continued to probe, but failed to trouble Mottram, who had a relatively comfortable afternoon in the Widnes goal.
Down the other end, Widnes looked threatening on the counter-attack but struggled to utilise their usually strong wing-play that was affected by the boggy playing surface.
Nevertheless, the victory was a welcomed three points for Akrigg and Towey’s side, who keep pace with league leaders Runcorn Linnets, sitting five points behind having played four games more.
Widnes remain level on points with second-placed Runcorn Town, lying eight points clear of fourth placed Charnock Richard and nine clear of fifth placed Hanley Town, albeit having played more games.
Next up for Widnes is a trip to Marine in the semi-final of the Liverpool Senior Cup on Monday.