REPORT: Chadderton 1-2 Widnes
Lomax nets winner as Widnes battle to eleventh straight win
Widnes FC battled to an 11th straight league win on Easter Monday as goals from skipper Kev Pollard and George Lomax secured a vital three points with a 2-1 win at Chadderton.
Pollard stroked home the opener before Sam Sheen missed a penalty for the visitors shortly after the half-hour mark.
Chadderton were revitalised in the second half and equalised following the hour as Jack Tuohy fired beneath Richie Mottram.
But George Lomax’s 20th goal of the season ultimately clinched the points for Joey Dunn’s side, who remain second in the Hallmark Security League First Division with three games left to play.
Manager Dunn made five changes to the side that comfortably beat Eccleshall 48 hours previously. Quartet Chris Lomax, Tom Mitchell, Chad Whyte and Billy Webb dropped to the bench and were replaced in the starting eleven by Sheen, Mike Burke, George Lomax and Kev Towey.
Meanwhile, winger Alex Davies was ruled out through injury with Jack Graham coming into the side as his replacement.
Widnes started well and came close to an early opener. Chadderton ‘keeper Michael Smith produced a terrific save to keep out a powerful Sheen free-kick that looked destined to nestle in the top corner.
Almost all of the attacking threat in the early stages was with Widnes and they made it count 15 minutes into the game.
Jay Roberts combined with George Lomax on the right who showed a superb turn of pace to skip past Dale Minor before laying the ball on a plate for skipper Kev Pollard to slot home the opener from close-range.
Chadderton came straight back at Widnes but James Curley’s acrobatic but ambitious effort went wide of the target and never looked like troubling ‘keeper Mottram.
George Lomax then went close again for Widnes as he forced Smith into a decent save before Widnes were awarded a penalty shortly after the half-hour mark.
Kev Towey attempted to round Smith in the area but was brought down by the outstretched glove of the Chadderton ‘keeper, leaving the referee with an easy decision to point to the spot.
Sam Sheen stepped up, only for Smith to redeem himself and make a decent save.
On the stroke of half-time, Lomax went close again for Widnes. Smith again came to the rescue for Chadderton, tipping the striker’s dipping effort over the bar.
Halftime: Chadderton 0-1 Widnes
Chadderton changed their system in the second half to a 3-5-2 formation and stretched Widnes in the opening stages of the period.
Jack Tuohy had time and space to try his luck from distance, but Mottram was alert to make a comfortable save.
With Matthew Crothers dropping deeper into a quarterback role for the hosts, Widnes struggled to cope with the revitalised hosts who netted a deserved equaliser following the hour-mark.
Crothers was afforded too much time to apply the assist for Chadderton, as he cleverly threaded a pass through to Tuohy, who struck his effort beneath Mottram to level the scoreline. Tuohy’s strike is the first goal Widnes had conceded in 631 minutes of football.
This seemed to be a welcomed wake-up call for Widnes, who had looked flat in the opening minutes of the half.
After surviving a period of sustained Chadderton pressure with some resolute defending, Widnes regained the lead with an incisive attack.
Jack Graham worked tirelessly to keep the ball alive on the near side. He then surged forward for the visitors and delivered a delicious cross towards the near-post, where George Lomax was on-hand to nod home from inside the six-yard area to restore Widnes’ advantage.
The visitors then suffered a major blow. ‘Keeper Mottram had suffered a knock prior to Widnes’ second goal and couldn’t continue after a prolonged period of treatment. Without a substitute goalkeeper on the bench, goalscorer Lomax took the jersey and played the remainder of the game between the sticks.
A tense finish was in store after 10 minutes of stoppage time was added on. However, Lomax performed admirably in unfamiliar surroundings, rising highest to claim a Crothers corner.
There was still drama to come however, as Chadderton’s Lewis Lacy clashed with Widnes’ River Humphreys after Widnes had cleared a set-piece. The linesman on the near side spotted Lacy put Humphreys in a headlock, leaving the referee with little choice but to give Lacy his marching orders.
A period of sustained pressure followed with a further three minutes being played, but Widnes held on for what could prove to be a vital three points.
Fulltime: Chadderton 1-2 Widnes
Widnes are back in action on Saturday as second host first, as Charnock Richard visit the Select Security Stadium in a fixture that will go a long way in deciding who will end the season as Champions. Kick-off 3pm.