Match Preview: Widnes (H)
Andrew’s Match Preview
Colne v Widnes
Saturday 8th April - 15:00
Colne welcome Cheshire side Widnes FC to Holt House this weekend for an Easter 6 pointer in the NPL West.
Widnes, nicknamed The Whites, were founded in 2003 as a junior club, joining the football pyramid 10 years later. They play their home games at the 13,350 seater DCBL Stadium in the Borough of Halton and their average attendance this season is 254.
Widnes finished in 13th place last season, just one spot higher than Colne. Last season in the head to head, a hotly disputed James Steele penalty on the hour mark, gave Widnes the lead in the game in Halton, last November, but Colne hit back with a Sinclair own goal, one from Matty Morgan and a 3rd from Tunde Bayode to run out 3-1 winners. In the return at Holt House, Colne again claimed all the points in a 2-0 victory, with a strike from on-loan winger Danny Edwards and a penalty from another loanee Elliott Rokka. The two sides met back in August at the DCBL Stadium with both sides claiming a point, after a Lucas Weaver goal in the second half was cancelled out 3 minutes later by a Declan Daniels equaliser.
This season the Whites have won 10, drawn 7 and lost 17, which leaves them in 18th place with 37 points from 34 games. Away from home they have won just 3 times; 2-0 at Hanley Town, 1-0 at Prescot Cables and 2-1 at Witton Albion. Widnes had to travel to Winsford United in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup and a Luke Sephton strike earned a reply in a 1-1 draw. McCulloch and Salkeld goals, safely put them through to the next round in a 2-0 home win. An away tie at non league up and comers Bury AFC was their reward, but it was the North West Counties Premier league side who prevailed, with 2 second half goals to secure a 2-0 victory and Widnes bowed out. In the FA Trophy, the Whites edged out Skelmersdale United on penalties before losing 1-5 at Macclesfield.
In their last game, Widnes claimed an excellent 3 points by beating 3rd placed Workington 1-0 at home thanks to a Sean Miller goal 4 minutes from time. In their last away fixture, the Whites were held to a goalless draw by bottom of the table Ramsbottom United.
Widnes players to watch - Forward Connor McCarthy rejoined the Whites in January from City of Liverpool. Connor has represented a plethora of clubs at this level and above - Prescot Cables, Skelmersdale, Southport, Telford, FC United, Warrington Town and Runcorn Linnets. He has scored 4 times since his return.
Former Pilkington and Congleton Town frontman Luke Sephton was a summer signing from Northwich Victoria. Luke can play anywhere in an attacking role and has experience at this level previously playing for Stalybridge Celtic and Warrington Rylands. He has scored 5 goals so far this term.
Left-sided Stephen Rigby joined the club in September ‘21 from City of Liverpool. The 25 year old started at St Helens Town, before joining Clitheroe, then Stalybridge Celtic, then Ashton United. Stephen has represented the Whites 36 times this season.
Former Wigan Athletic reserve, centre-half Michael Burke captain’s the Whites and marshal’s the defence. Burkey is in his 7th season at the club after having spells at Skelmersdale, Runcorn Linnets and Barnton.
Vastly experienced defensive midfielder Steven Irwin also often skippers the side. Steven started at Liverpool before playing abroad in Holland, Finland and Denmark. The 32 year old returned to the Uk joining Skelmersdale United, before then representing FC United, Stalybridge Celtic, Marine and Warrington Rylands.
Former Fleetwood Town midfielder Laurence Smith has been an ever present since Boxing Day. The 22 year old was previously at neighbours Runcorn Linnets.
James Steele re-joined the Whites a couple of weeks ago from City of Liverpool. The 23 year old striker initially joined the club in 2019 from Newcastle Town. After a short spell with Runcorn Linnets, he joined the Purps scoring 9 goals in 33 appearances this season.
Another new striker signing is Josh Quarless, son of former heavyweight boxer Noel. The 6 foot 7 inch forward joined in February from 1874 Northwich. Josh is 26 has has previously played for Burscough and City of Liverpool.
Former youth keeper at Bury and Altrincham, Cameron Terry is in his third spell at the club. The 22 year old has also played for Clitheroe and Nantwich Town.
Current Clitheroe manager David Dempsey left Widnes in September after their poor start. He was replaced in the dug out with former Runcorn Linnets and City of Liverpool boss Michael Ellison.
Last time out - Colne entertained bottom of the table Ramsbottom United at Holt House in a must win game. Paul Weller made 3 changes to the side who lost to 3rd placed Workington on the previous Tuesday. Ellis Wallbank came in for Tom Fagan at right back, Malik Diakite replaced Lucas Weaver on the right and Matty Kardacz joined the midfield in place of the injured Alex Doyle. There were chances for both sides in what proved to be an open game, but it was the Reds who took the lead after 24 minutes when Matty Kardacz scored his 2nd in 2 games with a screamer, which the young Rammy keeper couldn’t get near. Owen Watkinson struggled with a groin injury and he was replaced by Lucas Weaver at half-time. Former Red, Billy Hasler-Cregg linked up well with Jordan Scanlon on the left and they created Rammy’s better chances, finally resulting in an equaliser on 55 minutes. Hassler-Cregg’s good work played in Scanlon who jinked inside and finished with aplomb. The away side then had the ascendancy and looked to take over the game with Burton having to be on top form to deny them, but they were undone by a Colne counter attack on 65 minutes, when a long clearance from Kardacz was helped on by Luke Stowe and Lucas Weaver raced 50 yards into the Rammy area, held off the defender and beat the keeper at his far post.
Tom McCann replaced Eddie Elewa-Ikpakwu late on, as the Reds recorded their 9th win of the season, giving them 37 points from 34 games, keeping them in 17th place.
Finley Devenney was outstanding at the back once again for Colne and he fully deserved the man of the match.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Ben Anderson will miss out once again with a niggling groin strain which hasn’t settled down.
Jack Doherty is recovering from surgery on his ACL injury and will begin his rehabilitation when ready, under the watchful eye of Accrington Stanley. This injury has ruled him out for the season.
Team selection - Alex Doyle looks to have recovered from his hamstring injury and he’ll be challenging Matty Kardacz for his place back. Owen Watkinson seems fine after coming off last Saturday and he’ll likely partner either Danny Kyobe or Lucas Weaver up front. Either Tom Fagan or Ellis Wallbank will take the right-back role as the rest of the side is likely to be unchanged.
Widnes have won 3 of their last 6 games including 1 draw, as they have slowly inched their way out of the automatic relegation places and joined the Reds on 37 points. Like the Reds, scoring goals has been their main issue this season with Sephton and McCarthy joint leading scorers with 4 each in the league.
Last Saturday, a late goal gave them their best result of the season when they overcame 3rd placed Workington by the only goal. Their last away fixture saw them fail to score away at bottom of the table Ramsbottom United in a stalemate. Connor McCarthy is clearly their danger man up top.
The Reds have won 2 of their 3 games since Paul Weller took charge and and have only lost twice at home since October. They’ve also scored twice in each of those games and in front of goal is where this result will hinge. Expect another open attacking game with both sides desperately needing the 3 points to try and avoid finishing in the bottom 4. Colne have by far the harder run-in having to meet 3 top 4 sides in their remaining games, whilst Widnes play sides with nothing to play for.
Another must win game then for the Reds and one they are more than capable of edging, if they’ve got their shooting boots on.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £9
Concessions : £6
Under 16's: £2
Under 12's: Free
Colne Football Club
Mon 10th April - Clitheroe v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 15th April - Colne v Leek Town - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 22nd April - Workington v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Saturday’s other NPL West fixtures - 15:00
1874 Northwich v Clitheroe
Bootle v Trafford
Glossop North End v Kidsgrove Athletic
Macclesfield v City of Liverpool
Newcastle Town v Mossley
Ramsbottom v Leek Town
Runcorn Linnets v Prescot Cables
Skelmersdale United v Hanley Town
Workington v Witton Albion