REPORT: Widnes 4-0 West Didsbury & Chorlton
Widnes net four to end home campaign with impressive display
Widnes FC moved three points clear in the race for automatic promotion to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League with a 4-0 win over West Didsbury & Chorlton, ending their home campaign with another assured display.
The hosts were in control from the moment Ben Hodkinson swept home a controversial penalty with just two minutes gone with Chris Lomax firing home a second as Widnes led 2-0 at half-time.
Skipper Kev Pollard added a third after the break before Lomax netted his second 13 minutes from time to maintain Widnes’ promotion push with three games remaining.
Widnes’ win, coupled with Runcorn Town’s defeat at Ashton Athletic, means that Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey’s men now sit three points clear of their third-placed neighbours, with Runcorn Linnets’ promotion to the Evo-Stik now confirmed after Town’s defeat on Saturday.
Akrigg and Towey made two changes to the side that edged 1874 Northwich last time out. Towey and Mike Burke were both rested as George Lomax and Akrigg were named in the starting XI.
Widnes took an almost-immediate lead. Hodkinson raced clear of the West backline only to be bundled over by Lanre Olapade. It appeared as though the foul had taken place outside of the area, but referee Robert Wainwright pointed to the spot, with Hodkinson successfully dispatching his spot-kick beyond keeper Jordan Poole.
Already one down, West searched for a foothold but struggled against a stout Widnes defence that had kept six clean sheets in their previous eight outings in all competitions. Ben Steer fired wide, while Ashley Woods was unable to turn home from Tom Bailey’s cross after the latter had robbed Akrigg of possession.
In response, Widnes continued to probe forward with Chris Lomax seeing an effort comfortably thwarted by Poole before brother George dragged an effort wide after finding a pocket of space inside of the area.
Widnes doubled their advantage on the stroke of the half-hour mark in some style. A free-flowing, one-touch move saw Jay Roberts played in-behind, delivering a cross towards the back-post allowing Chris Lomax to crash home from close-range via the underside of the bar.
The hosts were enjoying all of the ball, creating a sense of inevitability that Widnes would soon find a third.
West remained resolute for the remainder of the first half, with Hodkinson coming closest as he directed a diving header off target after good work by Jack Banister.
Half-time: Widnes 2-0 West Didsbury & Chorlton
Widnes continued where they’d left off after the break and after George Lomax won a free-kick some 30 yards from goal, Phil Doran’s floated free-kick was headed back across goal by Akrigg, but West managed to scramble away any danger.
Towey and Akrigg’s men were visibly enjoying their football, producing slick passing football as they patiently pushed forward into West territory, recycling the ball well through midfield.
Widnes’ third was an incisive one at that. Stuart Cook, who was magnificent pulling the strings in midfield all afternoon, picked off West with a looping header that found Hodkinson on the edge of the area. The striker teed up skipper Pollard, who hit a fine half-volley into the back of the net that was too hot for Poole to handle.
Winger Banister came close to quickly adding a fourth, cutting inside from the left but Poole got down extremely well to push the Widnes man’s effort away to safety.
Jack Graham, Danny Laverty and Tom Croughan were all brought off the bench for Widnes with the hosts coasting to victory.
A fourth was still to come however. Graham rolled a pass into the feet of Chris Lomax, who had both the time and the space to find the top corner with a fantastic effort from the edge of the D that left Poole rooted to his spot, bagging his second goal of the afternoon.
There would be no further goals at the Halton Stadium, as Widnes signed off on their 2017/18 home campaign with a 16th straight victory on their own patch in all competitions.
Full-time: Widnes 4-0 West Didsbury & Chorlton
Widnes now face a busy week to end their season. Akrigg and Towey’s side face a run of four games in seven days, beginning with a trip to Maine Road on Monday night before facing Winsford United in the second leg of the Macron Cup semi-final on Tuesday.