THE Blues suffered their first away defeat in the league this season at Altcar Road on Saturday. But as in other reverses, it was their inability to get the ball in the net that cost them the points.
Formby had a well-organised back four and most of the Blues attacks were dealt with easily as Winsford's weaknesses in the air up front were highlighted time after time. One great plus for the Blues was the debut of Rob Hope. He looked a high-class addition and most of the good moves began with him.
Winsford started off well and a Stuart Wellstead run produced a cross just in front of Chris Hutchinson. Wellstead's speed was causing the home defence problems and a 26th-minute ball from Nick Boothby set him on a run at goal that ended in him being pulled back by Chris Townson. It was a foul that would have got Townson sent off in the Premiership as the last man. At this level, it resulted in a warning.
On 31 minutes, Formby took the lead. An inswinging free-kick by Terry McDonald was flicked on by the head of Mick Bourne towards the top right-hand corner of the net.
Wellstead was again in the clear in the 37th minute but was again brought down. Loud shouts for a penalty were subdued by the referee's indication that the defender played the ball.
There was excitement three minutes after the break when an Ian Wilkinson cross was missed by Boothby and Chris Hutchinson's shot from five yards struck the bar.
Wilkinson was the next to go close when his run and shot on 54 minutes was tipped over by Adam Phillips. The rest of the second half followed much the same pattern as the first with the Blues faltering as they reached the bigger Formby defenders, and numerous free-kicks around the area were easily headed away. Martin McGrath came on at 85 minutes and his clever footwork set him up for a shot that went agonisingly wide.
Formby goalkeeper Adam Phillips recounted later how his father was signed for Winsford in the late-70s, but after three games was told he was no longer wanted as Blues had signed a promising young goalkeeper. That keeper was Neville Southall.
UNITED: Crellin, Frost (McGrath 85), Boothby, Chambers, Turner, Hope, Quinn, Wellstead, Hutchinson (Given 58), Wilkinson, Harrison. Att: 70 Star Man: Ian Wilkinson - huge work rate Next Best: Rob Hope