REPORT | Widnes 4-1 Skelmersdale United
By Callum Chadwick
Widnes sink struggling Skem
Two own goals helped Widnes see-off struggling Skelmersdale United with a 4-1 win at the Halton Stadium on Saturday.
A Marvin Molyneux own goal and Jay Roberts’ first Widnes goal since December 2017 sent the hosts in at the break with a 2-0 lead.
Niall Watson added a third before Louis Keegan put through his own net as Widnes emphatically recorded their first home league win since returning to the Halton Stadium in February.
Jordan Tyrer netted a late consolation for Skelmersdale, who sit bottom of the table with nine games left to play, 11 points from safety.
With one eye on Tuesday’s Liverpool Senior Cup semi-final at Prescot Cables, co-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made three changes to the side held to a draw by Droylsden last time out.
Michael Grogan, Sam Sheen and Chris Lomax were all named amongst the substitutes as Sean Myler, Mike Burke and Watson were handed recalls.
After a slow opening to proceedings, Widnes were gifted an opener in the 12th minute.
A freak own goal handed the hosts the lead as mis-communication between Molyneux and Ryan Kirkman saw the former over-hit an attempted backpass that left his goalkeeper completely stranded, with the ball rolling into the empty net.
Widnes were handed a fortuitous opener but they wasted a golden opportunity to increase their lead two minutes later as Ben Hodkinson raced clear only to shoot straight at Kirkman who made a comfortable save.
Watson then had a goal ruled out for offside from the following corner as he turned home from Phil Mooney’s header as Widnes continued to exercise their control.
Skelmersdale grew in confidence as the half wore on, and after Sean Yeldrem won possession back in Widnes’ half, Thomas Grimshaw looked certain to equalise for Paul McNally’s visitors only to be denied by a really good Owen Wheeler save.
Despite the scare, Widnes responded and soon increased their advantage. Myler’s quick-thinking from a free-kick kickstarted a Whites’ attack, with Roberts playing a neat one-two with Hodkinson before finding the net with a well-taken finish.
Credit to Skelmersdale, who despite being the league’s bottom club and with only one away win all season, produced a resilient performance but lacked composure in front of goal, with John Keatley wasting a good opportunity just before half-time, slicing an effort well wide.
Akrigg and Towey’s men continued to threaten however, with Harry Brazel blazing over while former Skem man Mooney headed off target from Finlay Sinclair-Smith’s corner.
Into the second half, Widnes’ tempo dropped allowing Skelmersdale to enjoy their best spell, forcing the hosts into a solid defensive shift.
Molyneux would strike over for McNally’s men who started the second half the better of the two sides.
It was a largely forgettable opening half of the second period, with Widnes all-but putting the game out of Skelmersdale’s reach 20 minutes from time.
Conor Ready, introduced from the bench minutes earlier, combined well with Roberts who produced a teasing ball in towards the back-post that was begging for a crucial touch. Watson duly obliged, as the on-loan Accrington Stanley youngster prodded home from close-range.
It was 4-0 five minutes later. Towey came off the bench to make an immediate impact, driving into the area before looking to pick out a teammate at the back-post with his cut-back, but Skem man Keegan put through his own net with Myler lurking and almost certain to score.
Watson could have added his second to Widnes’ tally moments later, seizing on to a wonderfully-crafted George Webster through-ball only to wildly strike over from the edge of the D.
Skelmersdale arguably deserved a goal for their efforts and they were rewarded in second-half stoppage time with Tyrer heading in a consolation from a corner.