Atherton LR 1 Winsford United 3
ANOTHER rugged display in awful conditions at windy, chilly Crilly Park gave the Blues three points towards the manager’s aim of a top six place.
The scoreline somewhat flattered the hosts as only the woodwork and a fine display by ex-Winsford goalkeeper Craig Clare kept the score down but the travelling fans were treated to a performance that augurs well for the rest of the season.
The first half began in drizzle and ended in a downpour, and that coupled with a gale force wind made attractive football very difficult for both sides.
However, the visitors adapted well and it came as no surprise when they took the lead on 12 minutes. Dean Ennion, having his best game of the season, carved his way through the defence before releasing the ball to Lee Madin who teed it up for Ross Kennedy to drive it into the top right corner from the left edge of the area. Atherton were playing an attractive passing game without really threatening Michael Langley’s goal until the half hour mark when the Blues keeper had to dash off his line to save at the feet of Chris Quirk.
Playing against the wind in the second period Winsford stepped up the pressure with Clare finger-tipping Madin's drive round the post in the very first minute.
A series of corners proved fruitless for the Blues until the 53rd minute when a good delivery by Ennion found Mark Calland unmarked on the 12-yard spot and he powered a header into the back of the net.
One minute later Phil Mason should have done better with a shot that found the side netting and one minute after that, efforts by John Bluck, John Couch and Chris Sheppard were all blocked on the line. Things went from bad to worse for the home side when ex-Blue Rob Hope reacted badly to being fouled and was shown the red card. A series of saves by Clare and an Ennion free kick that struck the post prevented Winsford adding to their lead until the 78th minute when the prolific Les Miranda with almost his first touch of the ball steered Lee Thompson cross from the left inside the left post. Two minutes later Quirk found himself in the clear and expertly guided the ball out of reach of Miranda and into the corner of the net to give the travelling fans a nervous flutter but there was no comeback , indeed the Blues looked likely to add to their score with efforts by Thompson and John Couch both of which just missed the target.
Winsford are at Newcastle Town on Tuesday night in the league and on Saturday they travel to Bootle for the much-awaited first leg of the Vodkat Challenge cup (3.00pm)
UNITED: Langley; Calland, Owens, Sheppard, Duckworth; Bluck, Couch, Ennion, Kennedy (Roberts 67); Mason (Thompson 77), Madin (Miranda 77).