REPORT | Prescot Cables 2-2 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
Penalty heartbreak for Widnes at Prescot
Widnes’ Liverpool Senior Cup campaign ended in heartbreak as Prescot Cables progressed to the final with a 3-1 win on penalties following a 2-2 draw after 90 minutes.
In an eventful game, a second-half Ben Hodkinson strike and an Aaron Turner own goal had Widnes ahead on the hour after Chris Almond’s first-half opener, but Prescot’s talisman levelled the scoreline midway through the half with his second of the night.
With no further goals after 90 minutes, the tie was settled by penalties, but Widnes missed three of their four spot-kicks as Cables booked a date with Southport in the final.
Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made three enforced changes to the side that beat Skelmersdale United last time out. Michael Grogan, Sam Sheen and Chris Lomax were handed recalls, replacing the cup-tied Phil Mooney and the unavailable pair of Sean Myler and Niall Watson.
In front of 411 spectators at Prescot’s Volair Park, chances between the two sides in the first half were few and far between.
Widnes failed to test Ben Barnes in the first period but they could count themselves extremely unfortunate not to have been awarded an indirect free-kick when the Cables keeper handled an over-hit backpass from Louis Coyne, but referee Peter Wright waved play on.
Cables’ first real opportunity came after 28 minutes, and it was a moment of real class from Almond to open the scoring.
Prescot worked the ball in from the right and a seemingly loose ball fell to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Player of the Year nominee, who hit a sumptuous effort into the top corner from 25 yards out of nothing.
The Cables man would blaze half-chance late in the half as the hosts went in at the break in control and relatively untroubled by a Widnes side lacking quality in the final third.
But whatever was said by co-bosses Akrigg and Towey at the break paid instant dividends as Widnes earned an equaliser 10 minutes into the second half.
George Webster teed up Hodkinson who hit an effort on goal that was too hot for Barnes to handle, as the ball squirmed in despite the Cables custodian getting a firm glove on the shot.
Widnes had their tails up and were buoyed by their equaliser, and soon added a second to take a deserved lead.
Cables skipper Aaron Turner conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position presenting Widnes with a good opportunity which they made count. Chris Lomax whipped a venomous ball in that was headed into his own net by Turner, gifting Widnes the lead.
Turner then suffered the indignity of being substituted after a slow start to the second half that left him walking a tightrope for a yellow card.
Widnes’ best spell was rewarded with quickfire double that edged the Whites in front, but their lead barely lasted 10 minutes as Cables equalised.
It was that man Almond again, who turned home acrobatically from close-range after pinball in the area to level the scoreline on the night.
The back-to-back Senior Cup winners scored with their first two shots on target, but lost Almond to a knock moments later that was a blow to Brian Richardson’s men.
With 20 minutes to go, Widnes began to edge the contest and were the better side in the closing exchanges. Cables continued to threaten on the break, but Josh Klein-Davies’ tame effort on goal was the only save Owen Wheeler had to make.
Widnes wasted a gilt-edged chance to re-take the lead 15 minutes from time. It was a well-worked move with Webster, Harry Brazel and substitute Conor Ready all involved. The latter would work a pass wide to a free Hodkinson in the area, but the striker blazed over with an effort he would have liked back.
The visitors would again come even closer minutes later. Cables keeper Barnes was caught in no man’s land with substitute George Lomax looking to capitalise. He laid a pass off to Finlay Sinclair-Smith, who rolled a first-time effort narrowly wide of the gaping goal.
Neither side could muster a winner and so to penalties. Jordan Wynne fired Cables into the lead, and Lomax followed it up by smashing the crossbar with Widnes’ first attempt.
Luke Griffiths then sent Wheeler the wrong way, and Widnes co-boss Towey failed to halve the deficit as he drove his spot-kick wide of the upright leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb.
Josef Faux rolled home a third straight penalty for Cables, but Ready returned serve to keep Widnes in the tie at 3-1.
Lloyd Dean was then denied by Wheeler to give the visitors a lifeline, but keeper Barnes came up big for Cables, denying Brazel with an outstretched glove to end Widnes’ campaign and continue Prescot’s pursuit for a third successive triumph.