REPORT: Widnes 3-0 Ashton Town
Promotion push continues with sixth straight league win
Widnes FC maintained their push for automatic promotion to the Hallmark Security League Premier Division with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Ashton Town at the Select Security Stadium on Monday night.
Alex Davies opened the scoring early in the first half, before goals from Kev Pollard and Kev Towey sealed a routine win in the second period.
The result lifts Joey Dunn’s side to fourth in the First Division, climbing above Whitchurch Alport. Widnes now sit one point behind third-placed Charnock Richard and two points behind second-placed City of Liverpool with a game in-hand on the Purples.
Manager Dunn made three changes to the side that narrowly saw-off Prestwich Heys last time out. Tom Mitchell and Sam Sheen both dropped to the bench as River Humphreys and Davies came into the side, whilst Billy Webb came in for the unavailable Jack Graham.
Widnes started well and should have taken an early lead. Ashton’ keeper Mathew Hodge could only push Jay Roberts’ daisy-cutter into the path of the late-arriving Towey who could only direct his rebound wide with his head.
The hosts took control in the early stages but were stifled by a dogged defensive performance from Ashton, who defended well in numbers.
George Lomax volleyed over the top minutes later, before Towey and Luke J Edwards both saw efforts sail wide of the mark.
Dunn’s side took the lead on the 17-minute mark. Winger Alex Davies had time to cut inside from the left and the space to fire a shot on goal that nestled in the back of the net, wrongfooting ‘keeper Hodge in the process. Davies’ goal is his first since returning to the Club for a second spell last month.
Two minutes later, Widnes were awarded a penalty and a great chance to increase their lead. George Lomax raced on to a Towey through-ball only to be bundled over in the area by Town’s Marvin Molyneux.
Towey – who had netted 10 of his previous 11 spot-kicks this season – stepped up but could only watch his penalty sail over the bar.
Widnes continued to threaten as Hodge was once again called into action for the visitors, making a decent save to deny Webb’s shot from a tight angle.
10 minutes before the break, Widnes surged forward on the counter-attack led by Lomax. He played the ball wide to Davies who cut inside from the left before rattling the crossbar with a superb shot that would have had Hodge well-beaten.
Moments earlier, skipper Pollard was denied a goal against his former club as Hodge produced a terrific save to deny a goalbound header from inside the 6-yard area.
Halftime: Widnes 1-0 Ashton Town
Widnes maintained their persistence in search of a second goal but a combination of misfortune and a tenacious defensive performance from Ashton kept Dunn’s side at bay.
The threat of Davies continued to cause Ashton problems and it was his surge of pace that presented an opportunity to George Lomax. But somehow, he couldn’t quite get the ball out of his feet quick enough inside the six-yard area before Hodge managed make a save at the striker’s feet.
Moments later, Webb and Edwards combined to release Towey who fired wide, before Edwards himself saw a shot comfortably gathered by Hodge.
On the hour-mark, it was the woodwork that denied Widnes a second goal. Mike Burke headed an Edwards corner against the crossbar, before Ashton could only clear the ensuing goalmouth scramble as far as Towey, who struck a powerful effort against the outside of the post.
Two minutes later, Widnes’ sustained pressure was rewarded as they finally found a second. Edwards again curled a delicious delivery into the area that was met by a glancing Kev Pollard header, who was on target to double the hosts’ lead.
Widnes’ second goal essentially killed the game as a contest but the hosts continued to press and went close again as Edwards cleverly released Webb who could only drag his shot across the face of goal and wide.
The visitors never really produced a threat and were indebted to another Hodge save, as he reacted quickly to deny substitute Chad Whyte after good work from Towey.
But their resistance was broken once again late in stoppage time as Widnes netted a third. It was excellent build-up play from the hosts, which was neatly finished off by Towey, who slotted home his 37th goal of the season after racing on to an Edwards’ through-ball.
Fulltime: Widnes 3-0 Ashton Town
Widnes’ latest triumph is their sixth consecutive league victory, providing a welcomed boost as the season draws to a close.
The fixtures continue to come thick and fast for Dunn’s men, as they travel to Bacup Borough on Thursday night, before hosting St Helens Town in a local derby on Saturday.