REPORT | Kendal Town 1-5 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
Hodkinson hits hat-trick in five-star win
Ben Hodkinson hit a first half hat-trick as Widnes made it three successive league wins with a thumping 5-1 win at Kendal Town on Saturday.
Widnes were in total control at the break as Hodkinson stole the show, sending his side into a commanding 3-0 lead.
George Lomax and Dale Korie-Butler added further goals after the break, with Mark Buchan’s stunning reply for Kendal serving as barely a consolation.
Richie Mottram returned in goal as co-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made two enforced changes to the side that beat Prescot Cables last time out.
Mottram replaced the ill Owen Wheeler, while Rob Bourne was handed a start in a midfield-three in place of the unavailable George Webster.
New signing Phil Mooney was named amongst the substitutes after his move from Skelmersdale United, but fellow new addition Alfons Fosu-Mensah wasn’t selected.
Hodkinson started the game in an unfamiliar role on the left of a front-three, with Akrigg and Towey’s tactical tweak making an almost immediate impact as Widnes took a fourth minute lead.
After Dale Korie-Butler won possession back 30 yards from goal, Bourne quickly fizzed a pass out to Hodkinson who did the rest, cutting inside and gliding past two defenders before drilling home the opening goal.
In very wet conditions in Cumbria, Widnes looked to control possession, but Kendal maintained a threat on the counter-attack with Akrigg recovering well to block a Scott Harries effort after Sam Sheen had a clearance charged down.
There was little to separate the two sides but Widnes’ pace down the channels with Hodkinson, Rhain Hellawell and the overlapping Jay Roberts continued to cause constant problems.
Michael Grogan should have made it 2-0 midway through the half, but he nodded off target and Hodkinson could only drag an effort wide moments later.
Kendal’s front-pairing of Harries and Kyle Sambor were proving to be a lively duo, with Sambor bringing a long-ball down brilliantly but Harries could only fire straight at Mottram.
Widnes added a second two minutes before the break. In a wonderfully-crafted move, Hellawell pulled off a sensational turn to engineer space down the right. The Chester-loanee drove a cross towards the back-post where Hodkinson was on-hand to finish at the back-post.
Hodkinson completed his hat-trick in first half stoppage time. The in-form frontman strode onto Danny Ventre’s delicious ball forward, beating the on-rushing Stuart Dixon to the ball with a superb first-touch, and walking the ball into the empty net.
Widnes are growing in confidence after a stuttering start to life in the Evo-Stik League Division One West, and they could have added a fourth following the restart, but Grogan was unable to direct Hellawell’s corner on target.
Kendal came close to a response moments later, but Sambor could only volley narrowly over after Billy Akrigg’s free-kick was headed back across goal.
With Widnes cruising to the three points, Chris and George Lomax were introduced from the bench, and it was the latter who would add the visitors’ fourth.
Mottram showcased his ever-impressive distribution as his goal-kick hit Lomax in stride who held off the challenge of Stuart McDonald to hit a half-volley first time into the far corner.
Lomax was impressive off the bench, and he again broke clear down the right in an incisive Widnes move, providing a sumptuous pass across goal that was finished neatly by Korie-Butler as the visitors made it 5-0.
Kendal would grab a consolation 11 minutes from time in some style, as Buchan hit a 25-yard rocket into the top corner with Mottram well-beaten.