REPORT | Mossley 2-1 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
10-man Widnes beaten at Mossley
Widnes are still awaiting their first points of the Evo-Stik League Division One West season after going down 2-1 to Mossley at Seel Park on Tuesday night.
Max Leonard put the Lilywhites ahead on the hour-mark after Widnes’ Sam Sheen was dismissed early in the second half, before substitute Liam Ellis added a second 15 minutes later.
Jamie Rainford opened his account for Widnes as he grabbed what proved to be a consolation inside second half stoppage time for the visitors, who have now lost back-to-back league games for the first time in nearly 12 months.
Co-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made five changes to the side beaten at home to Radcliffe on Saturday. Ben Cartwright deputised at right-back with Jack Graham missing out through injury, while Sheen came in for Dale Korie-Butler, who was only fit enough to make the bench.
Elsewhere, George Webster made his second Widnes debut replacing skipper Kev Pollard who was unavailable, while strike-partners Rainford and Towey dropped to the bench in favour of Ben Hodkinson and George Lomax.
The visitors, who were without a win in their opening three competitive games, were looking for a positive result against a Mossley side who had won 3-1 at Chasetown on the opening day.
Widnes made a bright start and should have taken an eighth-minute lead. Webster released Hodkinson in-behind who got away from Dieter Downey. He squared a cross which was cleverly dummied by George Lomax, but Chris Lomax could only strike wide from close-range when he really should have scored.
Mossley then went even closer, with striker Leonard trying his luck from 40 yards only to rattle the post with Widnes ‘keeper Richie Mottram off his line and back-tracking. Michael Fish had a follow-up well-saved.
Fish again threatened for Mossley minutes later, but he could only head straight at Mottram before Mason Duffy had an effort comfortably saved by the Widnes custodian after combining well with Leonard.
Widnes looked like an improved outfit after three disappointing performances, and they always carried a threat with Chris Lomax leading a counter-attack before finding Hodkinson, but his effort was easily saved by Henry Turner between the sticks for Mossley.
Both sides looked to flex their attacking muscles after the interval, but the game was turned on its head five minutes into the second-half.
Widnes, who had arguably been the better side inside the opening 50 minutes, were dealt a hammer blow when Sheen was shown a straight red card for a two-footed tackle on Mossley skipper Andy Keogh.
The hosts looked to take advantage of Sheen’s dismissal with Ben Richardson floated a cross into the area that was just too high for Leonard.
A goal was coming, and it was Mossley who broke the deadlock on the hour-mark with Leonard guiding a Keogh cross beyond Mottram with a superb diving header.
Mossley’s numerical advantage was paying off, with Richardson proving to be a handful with great crosses in from the right. Mike Burke had to be aware to prevent the hosts’ right-back from finding Godwin Aradaki in the six-yard area.
Widnes still carried a threat however, with George Lomax seeing an effort saved by Turner before substitute Towey found Michael Grogan with a cross but his speculative effort sailed wide.
Mossley added a second 15 minutes from time. Widnes wasted a corner allowing Mossley to break with pace through Fish who had broken clear of the chasing Phil Doran. It was his pass who found substitute Liam Ellis who found the bottom corner with accuracy.
Bram Johnstone and Rainford came off the bench in one last roll of the dice for Widnes, but Mossley really should have added a third through Danny McLaughlin who could only shoot over from close-range.
Widnes did grab a lifeline inside second half stoppage time. Substitutes Towey and Rainford exchanged passes after good work by Grogan, with the former Colwyn Bay striker rifling an effort into the top corner to open his account for his new club in some style.
Danny Ventre had a late free-kick dropped by Mossley ‘keeper Turner but neither Grogan or Towey could convert before the hosts’ custodian smothered the ball at the second attempt, sealing victory for the Lilywhites.
Widnes are back in action on Bank Holiday Monday, hosting Market Drayton Town at Townfield. Kick-off 3pm.