REPORT | Widnes 3-1 Kendal Town
By Callum Chadwick
Widnes end season with third successive win
Widnes ended their debut Evo-Stik League West campaign with a comfortable 3-1 win over second-bottom Kendal Town.
Hosts’ co-boss Kev Towey criticised his side’s application after the game in which Widnes rarely reached second gear against a Kendal side lacking any meaningful quality.
Conor Ready opened the scoring on the 14-minute mark before adding his second midway through the second half as Widnes established a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Ryan Moore pulled a goal back for Kendal, but substitute Chris Lomax made sure of the points for Widnes with a third late on.
Joint-managers Towey and Steve Akrigg made five changes to the side that won at Runcorn Linnets last time out – a result that secured a 12th place finish in Widnes’ maiden Evo-Stik season.
Phil Mooney, George Webster, Michael Grogan, Finlay Sinclair-Smith and Lomax all dropped to the bench as Joe Herbert, Harry Brazel, Ben Hodkinson and Niall Watson all earned recalls, while Brendan O’Brien was handed his first Widnes start.
Widnes made a positive start and had the ball in the net within four minutes when Ready turned home from Hodkinson’s cross, but the hosts were denied by the linesman on the far side who flagged for offside.
Shaun Holden was next to close, driving a powerful effort inches wide of the upright with Kendal goalkeeper Murray O’Rourke beaten.
Less than two minutes later, Widnes went in front. Sam Sheen won possession back from a Kendal corner and quickly launched a counter-attack. Watson lifted a pass through to Ready who advanced clear of the visiting defence and tucked home the opener via a Tom Routledge deflection.
The hosts upped the intensity and could have added an immediate second, but Hodkinson had an effort well saved by O’Rourke, before Holden hit a half-volley into the grateful gloves of the goalkeeper moments later.
It was one-way traffic as Widnes continued to press as Ready was inches away from a second as he couldn’t quite get on the end of Hodkinson’s cutback after good work by Holden.
Kendal, who finished the season second-bottom but were handed a relegation reprieve after Colwyn Bay’s resignation, created a couple of decent openings late in the half but Cory Vickers and Matthew Knipe both blazed off target.
Widnes were perhaps guilty of going through the motions, and they had Richie Mottram to thank for preserving their lead early in the second half as he saved well from Knipe who had been played in behind.
Webster was introduced from the bench as Widnes went in search of a second, and it almost came on the hour-mark but O’Rourke was again equal to the efforts of Hodkinson.
The crucial second goal came six minutes later. It was Webster who provided the assist, splitting the Kendal defence with a well-weighted pass through to Ready, who applied a composed finish to the left of O’Rourke.
Ready was almost gifted a hat-trick moments later as he intercepted a loose backpass but Thomas Stead reacted quickly to make a crucial block.
Sinclair-Smith and Lomax were then brought off the bench, but Kendal were afforded an opportunity to halve Widnes’ advantage when the visitors were awarded a penalty.
Moore went down under the challenge of Mike Burke and picked himself up to take the spot-kick himself, only to be denied by Mottram but the Kendal man tucked home the rebound to give his side hope of a result.
It wasn’t to be forthcoming, and Widnes really should have put the game to bed 10 minutes from time when substitute Lomax raced clear only to make a mess of his effort when one-on-one with O’Rourke, rolling his shot off target when it was easier to hit the target.
Lomax cut a determined figure off the bench, and he looked to have added a third only to be denied by an instinctive O’Rourke save after the winger latched on to a Sinclair-Smith cross.
Five minutes later, Lomax got his goal. Watson threaded a pass through to Ready who unselfishly squared to his teammate, who tapped home into an empty net to score his second goal of the season.