REPORT: Bacup Borough 0-1 Widnes
Whyte winner seals vital three points
Widnes FC overcame the second-half dismissal of winger Alex Davies to beat Bacup Borough at the Brian Boys West View Stadium and maintain their excellent recent league form.
Chad Whyte netted the only goal of the game after 18 minutes, heading home from close-range after Steve Akrigg helped a Chris Lomax corner on.
Winger Davies was then shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Bacup’s Nathan Emery 10 minutes from time.
Widnes manager Joey Dunn made five changes to the side that comfortably beat Ashton Town last time out.
With Billy Webb suspended and River Humphreys unavailable, striker Whyte and Tom Mitchell were handed recalls whilst Richie Mottram returned to the squad after a spell at Burscough on dual registration, replacing Owen Wheeler who is representing Knowsley Youth at the Dallas Cup.
Meanwhile, Luke J Edwards and George Lomax both dropped to the bench, with Sam Sheen and Chris Lomax coming into the starting lineup.
Widnes started well and twice came close to earning an early opener. Davies played a neat one-two with Kev Towey before flashing a shot wide of the far-post, before Whyte rifled a shot over the bar after Davies again threatened down the right.
The visitors took control and took the lead on the 18-minute mark. Chris Lomax’s deep corner was met by a towering Steve Akrigg header, with striker Chad Whyte on-hand to help Akrigg’s header into the back of the net from close-range.
Bacup struggled to cope with the aerial threat of Akrigg from set-pieces. He again rose highest to win a towering header towards goal. However, Bacup’s Rees Walsh made a crucial intervention to prevent Whyte from hooking a shot on goal.
Tackles flew in early on with Bacup’s Trent Simm escaping punishment for a wild challenge on Towey. Tempers threatened to flare as the half went on, with the referee allowing both sides to give as good as they got.
With half-time looming, Widnes continued to threaten from set-pieces as Akrigg went close, heading Lomax’s corner over before Davies drove a shot straight into the gloves of Louis McCarthy from the edge of the area.
Inside first half stoppage time, the woodwork prevented Widnes from doubling their lead. Jay Roberts combined well with Davies down the right before delivering a wicked cross into the area. Striker Whyte threw himself at the ball, meeting it with his head only to watch the ball strike the foot of the post on its way wide.
Halftime: Bacup Borough 0-1 Widnes
Widnes started the second half well, retaining control of the contest. Towey cleverly engineered space for a dangerous cross towards Whyte but Bacup ‘keeper McCarthy reacted well to claim the loose ball before the striker could act.
The game continued to heat up as the second half went on as Widnes’ Mitchell was cautioned for a late challenge, with Bacup’s Jordan Rutter also going into the book for a robust tackle from behind on Towey.
However, Widnes were comfortable, spurred on by a dominant midfield performance that was bossed by the partnership of Sheen and skipper Kev Pollard.
Sheen was directly involved in Widnes’ next attack as he pressured Simm into an error before advancing forward with the loose ball. He drove a low cross into the area towards Towey who couldn’t quite grab an elusive touch with Bacup’s Adrian Bellamy providing the pressure.
With Widnes failing to add to their advantage, there was always the danger of Bacup getting back into the game. Forward James Constantine should have done better for the hosts as he caught a volley well but could only watch as his effort sailed over the crossbar.
Dunn’s side suffered a blow 10 minutes from time as they were reduced to 10-men. Davies caught substitute Nathan Emery recklessly and was ultimately shown a straight red card by the referee.
Despite a period of sustained Bacup pressure, Widnes defended well and routinely dealt with the hosts’ threat as Mitchell made a vital clearance before ‘keeper Mottram comfortably claimed a deep cross with a rare touch of the ball as Dunn’s men held on for all three points.
Fulltime: Bacup Borough 0-1 Widnes
Widnes’ latest victory is their seventh consecutive triumph in the league, closing the gap on second-placed City of Liverpool to two points with a game in-hand.
Dunn’s side have also increased the pressure on league leaders Litherland REMYCA, sitting four points behind the Sefton-based table toppers with three games in-hand.
Next up for Widnes is a local derby against St Helens Town at the Select Security Stadium on Saturday.
Bacup Borough: McCarthy, Walsh, Simm, Porter, Bellamy (C), Rutter (Emery 72), Heywood (Rhodes 85), Close, Nwachukwu (Butorins 15), Constantine, Wilson-Heyes.
Subs not used: Austen, Coulson.
Widnes: Mottram, Roberts, Mitchell, Sheen, Burke, Akrigg, Towey, Pollard (C), Whyte (G. Lomax 75), Davies, C. Lomax (Graham 78).
Subs not used: Laverty, Edwards, Weston.