Formby 0 Winsford United 2
Winsford returned to winning ways with a fine victory at cold, windswept Altcar where the small band of travelling supporters seemed to make up the majority of the crowd.
Trying to defy the biting wind with hot coffee they were treated to a fine defensive display and a team that adapted to the difficult conditions much better than the hosts.
Significantly the goals were provided by Phil Mason and John Bluck, both returning after three-match bans.
With Michael Owens acting as sweeper and Mark Calland, Danny Webster and Lee Duckworth all turning in sparkling displays it was hard to remember any occasion when Michael Langley’s goal was seriously threatened.
The strong following wind proved more of a hindrance than a help in the early minutes as passes were often over-hit and ran away over the goal line but on 12 minutes Calland got his centre just right and Mason’s glancing header took the ball away from goalkeeper Lee Gunnion and into the far corner of the net.
The Blues soon began to use the wind to their advantage as they kept the ball on the floor and moved forward with short passing movements. Ross Kennedy came closest to adding to the score in the first period when his 35-yard drive saw Gunnion scurry across his line to turn the ball away. It was 21 minutes before Formby tested Langley but Robert Dutton’s shot was weak and easily saved.
At the other end Mason was causing problems with his front running but a carefully laid offside trap caught him out time and time again.
With the wind behind them in the second half the home side adopted a policy of shoot on sight but all too often the ball was wide of the mark or way over the bar. It did seem the biggest threat was Gunnion's long kicks which on more than one occasion caused Langley a little panic as they bypassed all the outfield players.
Winsford were relying on quick breaks and closing down on defenders in the hope they might make a mistake. The policy worked on 61 minutes when a hurried clearance was blocked by Mason and the ball fell between Gunnion, who was well out of his area, and Bluck who had spotted the opportunity.
The Winsford midfielder got the perfect touch as he knocked it past the stricken custodian and after taking it forward a few yards calmly side-footed it into the net.
The closing period saw increasing pressure on the Formby goal with John Couch and Lee Madin both having opportunities to add to the score but in each case their efforts were just wide.
This coming Saturday the Blues travel to Atherton LR for a rearranged league match (3.00pm).
UNITED: Langley; Calland, Owens, Webster, Duckworth; Bluck, Couch, Ennion, Kennedy (Thompson 85); Madin (Connell 83), Mason.