2018 - Year in Review

2018 - Year in Review

By Callum Chadwick
31st December 2018
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As 2019 approaches, widnesfootballclub.co.uk takes a look back at the year that was 2018…

The year 2018 will always be remembered in the hearts and minds of everyone associated with Widnes Football Club and is one that will be spoken about for years to come.

Widnes began the year in third-place in the Hallmark Security League Premier Division under Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey, who had replaced Joey Dunn as joint-managers in October.

The Whites had won nine-straight games in all competitions to end 2017, with the upturn in form under Akrigg and Towey lifting Widnes into promotion contention.


Widnes sat level on 47 points with second-placed Runcorn Town to begin January, five points behind league-leaders Runcorn Linnets having played six and four games more than both Runcorn clubs respectively.

The Whites travelled to Burscough to kick-off the year, with Brad Smart netting the only goal as Widnes extended their winning-streak to 10 games.

Akrigg and Towey's men had to come from behind to draw 1-1 at high-flying Hanley Town one week later, with Ben Hodkinson netting an early second-half equaliser.

Widnes were boosted ahead of a crunch Derby clash with Runcorn Town at the end of the month with the permanent additions of Michael Grogan and Stuart Cook, while George Lomax returned from Marine.

Lomax would provide a crucial contribution as he scored the opener in Widnes' 2-0 win over Town, which moved the Whites three points clear of their neighbours in second-place.


February looked a tough month on paper, but Widnes were just beginning to hit their stride.

Home wins over Padiham (3-1) and Barnton (7-1) continued Widnes' superb run of form ahead of a crucial league double-header away at Runcorn Linnets and City of Liverpool.

Defeat at Marine in the Liverpool Senior Cup handed Widnes a first defeat since November in all competitions, but the Whites responded with a terrific 2-0 'El-Clasitoll' win away at Runcorn Linnets with Towey and Akrigg getting themselves on the scoresheet.

Widnes ended the month with a convincing 4-1 win at City of Liverpool, underlining the Whites' promotion credentials as they moved nine-points clear of third-placed Charnock Richard.


Widnes and Linnets went head-to-head for the second time in a fortnight to begin the month, and it was the Whites who again earned local Derby bragging rights with a 2-1 victory.

In front of 410 spectators at the Halton Stadium, Ben Hodkinson netted a 94th minute penalty to complete a smash and grab raid, and the league double over Runcorn.

Widnes would secure progression through to the last-eight of the Macron Cup with a 2-1 win over AFC Darwen, before beating the same opponent 4-0 in a league encounter five days later - extending their league unbeaten run to 16 games, setting a new club record.

Goals from Jack Banister and Towey ensured Widnes' progression to the semi-finals of the Macron Cup with a 2-0 win at Ashton Athletic, but a 6-1 loss at Barnoldswick Town on Easter Saturday brought the Whites' unbeaten league run to a crushing halt.


With teams beginning to play games in-hand, Widnes' second-place spot became under-threat as Hanley Town and Runcorn Town sat three and four points respectively behind.

Nevertheless, Widnes were unnerved and won all seven fixtures in the month to cement pole position in the race for the league's second automatic promotion spot.

League wins over AFC Liverpool and AFC Darwen put the loss at Barnoldswick firmly in the rear-view ahead of the Macron Cup semi-final first leg meeting with Winsford United.

Widnes blitzed their Cheshire-based rivals 5-0 in the first leg to all-but book their place in May's final at Fleetwood Town's Highbury Stadium with Towey netting a hat-trick.

The Whites would end the month in scintillating style, beating Northwich Victoria, 1874 Northwich, West Didsbury & Chorlton and Maine Road by an aggregate score of 11-0.


Widnes drew 2-2 at Winsford United to confirm their place in the Macron Cup final in their second game in as many days to kick-off May.

Slip-ups for Runcorn Town meant that Widnes' promotion was firmly in their own-hands heading into Bank Holiday Weekend, and a 3-1 win at Irlam left Runcorn needing a miracle to overturn Widnes' three-point and eight-goal advantages.

A sole Banister goal ensured victory at Ashton Athletic on the final day as Widnes' promotion to the Evo-Stik League was confirmed - a second successive promotion and an unbelievable achievement for a club only promoted to the North West Counties League in 2013.

Burscough awaited in the Macron Cup final, and despite falling behind early on, goals from Hodkinson and Sam Sheen ensured a new-name on the trophy as Widnes completed a promotion and cup-winning double.


Akrigg and Towey began to assemble their squad for life in the Evo-Stik League. The duo signed new two-year contracts, while Hodkinson, Sheen, Jay Roberts, George and Chris Lomax signed deals to remain at the club.

Banister and Cook would be the only two departures from Widnes' promotion-winning squad, as the former would earn a move to FC United of Manchester while Cook decided to step away from football to focus on his England futsal commitments.

The incomings included George Webster, Danny Ventre, Bram Johnstone, Dale Korie-Butler and more as the 2018-19 team slowly began to take shape.


Widnes' season got off to a flyer in their first competitive game of the season as the Whites won the North West Counties Champions Cup with a 3-0 win over neighbours Linnets as George Lomax netted twice.

It was confirmed in the month that Widnes would relocate to Barnton's Offside Trust Stadium on a temporary basis as the artificial pitch at the Halton Stadium was due to be relaid.


Despite signs of promise at Linnets, Widnes made a slow start to the new season. The Whites were dumped out of the FA Cup by lower-league Northwich Victoria, and losing their first two Evo-Stik League fixtures at home to Radcliffe and away at Mossley.

Their first victory at the Step 4 came at home to Market Drayton Town on Bank Holiday Monday as goals from Towey, Hodkinson and Mike Burke lifted Widnes to a 3-0 victory.


Widnes were narrowly beaten at Colne to begin the month but September was to take a turn for the worse when the Whites had four players sent off in a 1-0 loss at home to Kidsgrove Athletic.

The Whites would bounce back with back-to-back league wins over Glossop North End and Colwyn Bay either side of an Integro Cup exit at higher-league Witton Albion.

Despite signs of improvement, Widnes would end the month with a heavy 4-1 defeat at Leek Town before losing their first-ever FA Trophy tie at Droylsden.


The arrival of former Liverpool forward Jack Dunn on a short-term loan inspired an improvement in Widnes' form in October.

Draws at home to Newcastle Town and Ramsbottom United coincided with impressive away wins at Skelmersdale United and Glossop North End as Widnes continued to climb up the table.

However, a thumping 6-2 defeat at Droylsden would bring Widnes' upturn in form to an abrupt end.


Widnes' struggles at their temporary home continued with losses to Clitheroe and Chasetown but the Whites' away form raised eyebrows.

Hodkinson's late-strike earned Widnes a point at high-flying Trafford before the former Bootle man netted a penalty two weeks later at Atherton Collieries as the Whites ran-out 1-0 winners at the then league-leaders.


Widnes won three straight games to begin the final month of the year. Korie-Butler scored a quick-fire double to earn a 2-1 derby win over Prescot Cables before Hodkinson fired a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at Kendal Town a week later.

The Whites progressed in the Liverpool Senior Cup, beating City of Liverpool but Widnes ended the year with successive losses to Radcliffe and Linnets.

However, there is plenty to be optimistic about heading into 2019 and who knows what the New Year will bring!

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