REPORT | Kidsgrove Athletic 1-1 Widnes
By Callum Chadwick
10-man Widnes held to draw
Conor Ready netted his first goal for the club but Widnes were held to a 1-1 draw at Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday, with Danny Ventre seeing red for the visitors.
Ready’s 25th minute strike put Widnes in front but the visitors dropped points from a winning position for the fifth time in their previous six league matches as Oliver Jepson headed a late equaliser.
Jepson made a crucial contribution off the bench and was on the receiving end of a late Ventre challenge that saw the Widnes man shown a straight red card minutes before netting what proved to be the equaliser.
It was a bitter blow for a Widnes side who arguably deserved more for their efforts as the Whites continue to await a first league win in four.
Co-bosses Steve Akrigg and Kev Towey made five changes to the side beaten by Atherton Collieries, with Richie Mottram making a first league start in goal since December as he came in for the unavailable Owen Wheeler.
Elsewhere, Phil Mooney replaced the suspended Sam Sheen while Ready, Harry Brazel and Ben Hodkinson were preferred to George Lomax, Sean Myler and Niall Watson.
There was little to separate the two sides in the opening exchanges, with Kidsgrove failing to trouble Mottram as Anthony Malbon and Kyle Blake both blazed over for the hosts.
It was Widnes who opened the scoring following the half’s midway point. Jay Roberts’ cross from the right was only half dealt with and Ready reacted quickest to fire home on the turn to open his account for the Whites.
Widnes would go on to control the remainder of the half, with a crucial sliding challenge from James O’Neill preventing Hodkinson from increasing the visitors’ advantage, while Finlay Sinclair-Smith would shoot off target moments later.
The visitors’ momentum carried into the second half as Widnes pushed for the game’s crucial second goal. Hodkinson would force a decent save out of Kieran Harrison after capitalising on a Kyle Diskin slip, while George Webster would strike inches wide.
Nevertheless, the pendulum swung in the hosts’ favour when stand-in skipper Ventre was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Jepson, leaving Widnes with a big test of character against a side who had scored 11 goals in their previous four outings.
Half chances would come and go for Kidsgrove as Jepson would nod wide while Chris Baker’s inviting cross evaded Malbon in the area as Athletic pushed for an equaliser.
Kidsgrove would grab a crucial leveller nine minutes from time when Jepson found the net with a bullet of a header to rescue a point for the hosts, who were perhaps fortunate to end the game with a full complement of players when keeper Harrison escaped punishment for a wild challenge on Hodkinson.