Prescot Cables 2-1 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
Cables battle back to beat Widnes
Mike Burke saw red as Prescot Cables battled back from a 1-0 half-time deficit to see-off Widnes at Volair Park on Saturday.
Widnes had led at the interval through Ben Hodkinson’s 15th goal of the season deservedly edged the Whites in front, but James Edgar equalised for Cables 10 minutes into the second half.
Burke was shown a second yellow card on the hour after conceding a penalty for handball, but Luke Griffiths’ spot-kick was comfortably saved by Owen Wheeler.
Substitute Lloyd Dean would go on to net a late winner for Cables to deny Widnes even a point from a game they would have felt was completely in reach.
Co-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made three changes to the side beaten at Newcastle Town last Saturday. Chris Lomax was ruled out through injury and replaced by brother George, who led the line for Widnes as Hodkinson was shifted to the left of a front-three.
Elsewhere, Joe Herbert came in for the unavailable Michael Grogan to start against his former club, while Sean Myler was handed a recall in place of George Webster who dropped to the bench.
It was Herbert who almost notched Widnes into a fourth-minute lead. The defender, who went down in Cables folklore for his goal in the 2017 Liverpool Senior Cup final victory over Southport (the ensuing celebrations caused a perimeter fence to collapse), rose highest to meet a Finlay Sinclair-Smith corner, glancing narrowly wide of the far-post.
The early exchanges were played at an even keel with both sides looking to play at pace. In fact, it was an eerily similar start to the Liverpool Senior Cup semi-final meeting between the two teams played just 11 days previously that was won by Cables on penalties after a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes.
This time however, Widnes struck first to land a crucial blow in the contest. The ever-energetic Hodkinson gambled on a hesitant Ollie Taylor to beat the Cables keeper to a long ball over the top, eventually slamming home into the roof of the net.
Cables struggled to muster a response as Widnes were in control and top but could only force Taylor into a saves from long-range attempts, with the Prescot custodian denying both Hodkinson and Sinclair-Smith.
Widnes keeper Wheeler had precious little to do in the first half, but he was alert when called into action on the stroke of half-time.
The Whites cheaply lost possession allowing Prescot to break through Josh Klein-Davies, but his powerful effort on goal was brilliantly turned on to the bar by the outstretched glove of Wheeler, with Shaun Holden sweeping away any ensuing danger.
Cables were perhaps buoyed by their best chance of the first half as they began the second period on the front foot, rousing the home fans as Griffiths forced a comfortable save out of Wheeler five minutes after the restart.
Prescot’s strong start was rewarded with an equaliser. Klein-Davies made a nuisance of himself but Sam Sheen’s intervention sat up nicely for Edgar to hit a half-volley that crept in via the near-post despite Wheeler getting a hand to the strike.
Widnes responded positively but saw two glaring opportunities to re-take the lead go begging. Hodkinson latched on to Myler’s through ball to race clear one-on-one with Taylor, but the Cables shot-stopper got down well to make a good save at the striker’s feet.
Moments earlier, Prescot defender James Cooper had glanced a venomous Hodkinson free-kick across the face of his own goal and narrowly wide, leaving Taylor well-beaten.
Cables were growing in confidence and Klein-Davies again threatened, this time having an attempted cut-back blocked.
However, the referee deemed it was stopped by Burke’s outstretched arm – and it was deliberate – as he brandished a second yellow card, with the Widnes captain seemingly already resigned to his fate as he left the field.
But Wheeler, who was powerless to stop three of Cables’ four spot-kicks in the Liverpool Senior Cup 11 days previously, made a comfortable save to deny Griffiths and set up a tense finish.
Widnes withdrew Sinclair-Smith for Danny Ventre to shore up the midfield as Sheen filled in at centre-half, but the Whites were second-best with 10-men although they did manage to hold firm until the 86th minute.
Cables went for broke with their three substitutions, introducing forwards Jack Lenehan, Josef Faux and Dean from the bench in search of a winner, and it was the latter who grabbed three crucial points for the hosts.
Widnes hearts were broken for the second time in less than two weeks at Volair Park, as Faux nodded a deep Klein-Davies cross into the path of Dean, who fired home on the turn to finish off the Whites and keep Prescot’s play-off hopes alive.