REPORT | Newcastle Town 2-1 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
Whites slip to first defeat in three
Widnes were left to rue a number of missed chances as the Whites suffered a 2-1 defeat away at Newcastle Town on Saturday.
After a goalless first half, Town broke the deadlock less than three minutes into the second half through Jordan Cole, with Chris Smith doubling the hosts’ advantage 15 minutes from time.
With the game seemingly out of reach, Widnes rallied but George Lomax’s stoppage time goal on his 100th appearance for the Club was little more than a consolation.
Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey named an unchanged line-up that were beaten on penalties in the Liverpool Senior Cup in midweek, although there was a welcomed return to the matchday squad for defender Joe Herbert, who hasn’t featured since early February due to injury.
The visitors started positively, with Chris Lomax carving the game’s first attempt on goal but was denied by a comfortable Ryan Livesey save.
Widnes’ away form has been one of the positives of their debut Evo-Stik League campaign, with the Whites’ record of eight wins bettered by only four sides and equalled by two.
They were relatively untroubled in the early exchanges by Town, who struggled against a stout, but rather comfortable Widnes backline.
Lomax should have notched his side ahead midway through the half, finding himself one-on-one with Livesey but the Newcastle custodian got down well to make the save with his feet.
Newcastle slowly began to find their feet, but Cole couldn’t get on the end of a teasing Michael Conlon cross as Owen Wheeler remained untested.
But Widnes were on top and their best chance of the half fell to Blackpool loanee Finlay Sinclair-Smith after a poor touch by Smith. The youngster looked to capitalise and advanced one-on-one with Livesey, trying to round the keeper who was alert enough to get down well and collect the loose ball.
Whatever was said at half-time by Newcastle boss Robin van der Laan seemed to pay instant dividends as the hosts caught Widnes cold to break the deadlock.
Moments after Smith had poked wide within seconds of the restart, James Steele turned away from a challenge on the halfway line to quickly release Cole in behind who made no mistake to fire Town into the lead.
Co-bosses Akrigg and Towey would have been disappointed to find themselves behind, and although the visitors responded positively, they were undone for a second time in the closing stages that seemingly secured all three points for Newcastle.
Widnes failed to deal with a long Josh Williams throw, with the ball eventually making its way through to Smith, who converted from close-range to increase the hosts’ advantage.
The visibly frustrated visitors piled the pressure late on and were rewarded for their efforts with a goal as substitute George Lomax turned home from a Jay Roberts cross to grab little more than a consolation for Widnes who stay 12th in the table.