REPORT | Widnes 1-1 Droylsden
By Callum Chadwick
Widnes frustrated by Droylsden in draw
Widnes were forced to settle for a frustrating point at the Halton Stadium on Monday night, as Droylsden held the Whites to a 1-1 draw.
Finlay Sinclair-Smith’s precise finish put Widnes ahead after 17 minutes, but the hosts failed to increase their lead shortly before half-time as Ben Hodkinson saw a penalty saved by Bloods’ goalkeeper Christopher Thompson.
Sefton Gonzales would equalise early in the second half, and despite Widnes spending much of the remainder of the contest on the front foot, a winning goal was not forthcoming.
Co-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey named an unchanged team from the side that beat Ramsbottom United last time out.
Widnes started at a tempo indicative of their early intent.
They were eager to capitalise on their relative freshness against a Droylsden side who were 48 hours removed from a pulsating 3-3 draw at Kidsgrove on Saturday while Widnes were without a fixture.
Hodkinson would turn an early effort off target moments before Chris Lomax would go on a marauding run forward only to see his shot beaten away by Thompson at full-stretch.
The Bloods would have been buoyed by having already beaten Widnes twice earlier this season in both the FA Trophy and the corresponding league fixture. They looked to fashion an opening, but Ismail Camara would fire wide.
Widnes were soon in front, and it was an incisive move ruthlessly finished by Sinclair-Smith.
Gonzales would concede possession to Jay Roberts in midfield and the Blackpool loanee was on the move immediately. Roberts would quickly find Sinclar-Smith who did the rest, cutting inside of Domaine Rouse, racing clear and calmly rolling a shot into the far bottom corner.
Little action followed in terms of clear-cut chances, but Widnes were afforded a golden opportunity to increase their lead on the stroke of half-time when the hosts were awarded a penalty.
After Rouse had seemingly put paid to a Widnes counter-attack, Harry Brazel reacted quickest to pick up a loose ball only to be bundled over by Ryan Hopper, with referee Christopher Porter given little choice but to point to the spot.
Hodkinson stepped up, but his venomous spot-kick was turned on to the bar by Thompson, and the striker somehow couldn’t convert on the rebound as the ball was caught beneath his feet, with Brewster clearing off the line. However, replays would later suggest that the ball had in fact crossed the line.
Widnes retained control into the second half, with the lively Sinclair-Smith again causing Droylsden problems, only to flash an effort inches wide of the far-post.
But the Bloods would draw level 10 minutes into the half. Faustin Makela’s cross towards the near-post was turned home by Gonzales under pressure by Phil Mooney, with the imposing-forward netting an all-important equaliser.
It was an unwelcomed setback for Widnes, but they continued to pile the pressure on only to be twice thwarted by Thompson. Hodkinson and Sinclair-Smith both had efforts pushed away by the Bloods goalkeeper, before Lomax had an effort blocked by Sam Baird.
Niall Watson was introduced from the bench as Widnes went in search of a winner they perhaps deserved.
Brazel would force a routine save out of Thompson, but Widnes’ best chance felt to Sinclair-Smith in second-half stoppage time. The youngster got in behind the Bloods’ backline, beating Thompson with his effort but Baird was crucially placed on the line to head clear.
Droylsden just about managed to scramble clear the resulting corner, forcing Widnes to settle for a point.