REPORT | Widnes 3-2 Colne
By Callum Chadwick
Hodkinson inspires Widnes comeback
Ben Hodkinson netted a dramatic late double as Widnes came from two goals down to defeat Colne 3-2 at the Halton Stadium.
Things were rosy for Colne at the midway point of the first half when goals from Reece Webb-Foster and Alex Curran had Steve Cunningham’s visitors two goals to the good, but Joe Herbert halved the deficit as the half-hour mark approached.
Hodkinson would complete an extraordinary comeback inside second half stoppage time with a deft lob, mere moments after heading home a certain equaliser two minutes from time.
The win was Widnes’ first league triumph in their previous four games, denting Colne’s play-off ambitions in the process.
Co-boss Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made one change to the side that drew at Kidsgrove last time out, with Michael Grogan replacing the suspended Danny Ventre in midfield.
Widnes started positively and could have taken a fifth-minute lead. Shaun Holden fizzed a cross towards the back-post but Finlay Sinclair-Smith’s seemingly goalbound effort was hooked off the line by Simon Nangle.
Colne responded and took a seventh-minute lead. Goalkeeper Richie Mottram collided with defender Phil Mooney as he attempted to deal with a long ball forward, allowing Webb-Foster to duly capitalise as the forward applied a composed finish into an empty net.
Widnes looked for an immediate leveller with Harry Brazel shooting over moments before Waqas Azam forced a comfortable save out of Mottram at the other end.
Colne would soon double their lead. Curran collected a pass on the edge of the area and superbly turned away from Grogan to fire home an effort that beat Mottram at his near-post, leaving Widnes with it all to do.
The Whites mustered the perfect response. Colne keeper Hakan Burton fumbled a Sinclair-Smith corner, with Conor Ready turning the loose ball on to the upright but Herbert was on hand to force a close-range effort over the line.
Widnes went in at the break firmly in the contest but could have found themselves 3-1 down seconds following the restart, but Brad Lynch could only volley wide of the target.
Lynch threatened early in the second half for the visiting Reds, striking the foot of the post after Widnes failed to deal with a long throw-in.
However, that was as good as it got in the second half for Colne as Widnes controlled possession and created the better openings but failed to test Burton as time whittled down.
Brendan O’Brien, Chris Lomax and Niall Watson were all introduced from the bench as Widnes went in search of an equaliser that was well within reach.
It was Lomax who almost made a telling contribution, showcasing great footwork to engineer space for a shot on goal that was well-handled by Burton.
A deserved equaliser came two minutes from time. Lomax was again involved, curling in a delicious cross that was superbly met by Hodkinson, who powered a glancing header beyond the outstretched Burton.
There was still time for further drama as a laboured Colne side looked vulnerable in the warm weather conditions. The Reds would force a late corner, but a poor delivery allowed Widnes to launch a match-winning counter-attack.
After Lee Pugh’s corner was routinely headed away, Ready hooked away the danger which the lively Hodkinson looked to latch on to. The former Bootle man beat Nangle for pace to race clear and lift a well-taken winner over the oncoming Burton to clinch all three points for Widnes.
Widnes now face a quick turnaround as the Whites head to neighbours Runcorn Linnets on Easter Monday, before ending the season at home to Kendal Town next Saturday.