Match Preview: Witton Albion (A)
Andrew’s Match Preview
Witton Albion v Colne
U Lock it Stadium, Wincham Park
Saturday 25th February - 15:00
Colne travel 60 miles South to face Northwich based, Cheshire outfit, Witton Albion at Wincham Park in the NPL West league.
Witton Albion, nicknamed the Albs, were founded in 1887 and play their home games at U Lock it Stadium, Wincham Park, which they also lease out to neighbours and local rivals Northwich Victoria. Their average attendance this season is 437, boosted by two 800+ crowds against Macclesfield and Runcorn Linnets. Last season, Albion were plying their trade at step 3 in the NPL Premier division, but after finishing 21st out of 22 sides, they were automatically relegated to the NPL West. The two clubs met back in December at Holt House, where an Enock Lusiama strike, cancelled out an earlier Joe Duckworth goal to see the spoils shared, in an entertaining 1-1 draw. Former Red Prince Haywood was dismissed for a 2nd yellow card, 15 minutes from time, on his return to Holt House.
This season Witton have won 10, drawn 8 and lost 9, which gives them 38 points from 27 games and sees them placed 7th in the league table. At home, Albion have beaten Workington 3-2, Macclesfield 1-0, Ramsbottom United 5-1, Hanley Town 5-1, Runcorn Linnets 4-2, Kidsgrove Athletic 3-2 and Newcastle Town 3-1. After knocking out Tivedale 4-1 in the FA Cup preliminary round at home, Albion then faced FC United at Wincham Park, but lost to a single goal. Stockton Town knocked Witton out of the FA Trophy at the first stage, with a 4-3 away win. In their last game, on Tuesday evening, Albion came from behind to beat Newcastle Town 3-1, with goals from Rokka, Williams and Lawrie.
Witton Albion players to watch - 21 year old forward Joe Duckworth, has joined this season from Winsford United. He’s also represented FC United and has scored 15 times in 33 appearances in all competitions this season for Albion.
Winger/attacker Connor Hughes joined the club in November and he’s hit the ground running scoring 11 times in 13 games. Connor had scored 13 goals for Daisy Hill already this season before his move. The 29 year old began his career at Oldham Athletic and has played at a higher level with Hyde United, Halifax Town, Worcester City, Warrington Town, Stalybridge Celtic and Curzon Ashton.
Skipper and midfield dynamo Kingsley Williams made 17 appearances for Colne in the second half of last season, before leaving in the summer. The 30 year old started his career as a youth at Sheffield United and has represented umpteen non league clubs as well as having spells in Australia and Spain.
Another familiar face, is that of right back/midfielder Prince Haywood, who played 16 times for the Reds last season. Beginning his career in Italy, Prince - also 30 - has played for Stalybridge Celtic, Colwyn Bay, Ramsbottom, Radcliffe, Nantwich and is now in his second spell at Witton.
Ever present keeper Ollie Martin, came through Man City’s academy before moving to Fleetwood Town. Another with many clubs on his CV, Ollie has played for Stalybridge Celtic, Mossley, Radcliffe, Ramsbottom and City of Liverpool amongst others.
Elliot Rokka came through Man United’s academy. The attacking wide player has played mainly at Macclesfield Town, Radcliffe and Atherton Collieries, with various loans, including a 6 match spell at Holt House last winter. He joined Witton in the summer and has scored 6 times in 28 appearances.
Right wing back Mike Koral came through Crewe Alex’s academy and he’s played all his career in non league in Cheshire. Mike loves to get forward and has scored 5 times this season for Albion also covering as a forward when required.
19 year old midfielder Cameron Fogerty came through Hyde United’s academy and was an astute signing for the Albs in the summer. The young playmaker is well regarded and represented Hyde 34 times in the NPL Premier division last season.
Oliver Hitchcox is another 19 year old, who joined the club in the summer from Wrexham. The young central defender has made 31 appearances this season for Albion.
Long serving manager Carl Macauley left the club in the summer and he was succeeded by former PNE striker Jon Macken and his assistants Joss Hull and Steve Atkinson. Macken managed Colne for 20 games in the second half of last season, winning just 4 times, as the Reds fell down the table, but recovered to finish 14th.
Last time out for the Reds - Colne entertained Glossop North End on Tuesday evening in a relegation 6 pointer at Holt House and produced their best league result of the season. Phil Brown made three changes from the side which battled to a draw at Prescot on Saturday, with Ben Anderson replacing the injured Tom McCann at left back, Luke Stowe came back into the starting line up covering the absence of Glenn Steel and new loan signing Jake Forshaw made his debut as Danny Kyobe started on the bench. Matty Kardacz dropped back into the centre of defence as Stowe (left) and Weaver (right) made up a solid 4 in the middle and Forshaw joined Watkinson up front. GNE were without keeper Craig Ellison and brought in 20 year old Jaden Bevan from Shrewsbury on loan to cover. Kicking uphill, the away side started on the front foot and were the better side for the first 15 minutes, but a mistake at the back let in a pressing Watkinson and from his cross Luke Stowe took the ball into the 6 yard box and coolly fired it into the roof of the net to give the Reds the lead.
Two minutes later, that lead was doubled when a punch from debuting keeper Jaden Bevan fell to Lucas Weaver who made no mistake and Colne took a 2-0 advantage into the break. Glossop would have been wondering how they were 2 down in the dressing room at half-time and playing downhill for the second 45, a GNE onslaught was expected. However it was the home side who attacked from the off, and a Stowe - Watkinson - Weaver move, gave the Reds a third goal as Weaver claimed his second of the evening. He was then replaced by Danny Kyobe after pulling up with a hamstring injury.
The remainder of the game was nip and tuck, with the youngster Forshaw unlucky with a couple of one on ones, and he was replaced for the last 15 by Jacob Bridges who sat deep in the middle and helped maintain another clean sheet. Cuan Bradley came on for the last 7 minutes in place of captain Watkinson as the Reds saw out the game and recorded their best league scoreline of this campaign. Good performances by Weaver, Watkinson and Carney in particular, but Matty “mini Rolls” Kardacz dropped back into central defence and was foot and head perfect in ensuring the clean sheet and earning the man of the match.
The 3 valuable points gives the Reds 31 points from 28 games and moves them up 2 places into 16th spot, out of the relegation play-off places.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Tom McCann had to come off last Saturday after breaking his nose and showing signs of concussion. He’ll not be involved as concussion protocols will be followed.
Lucas Weaver came off on Tuesday night with a hamstring injury and he’ll miss out.
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 news - Tom McCann and Lucas Weaver will both miss out due to injuries, but Glenn Steel is expected to return to the line up. 18 year old striker James Forshaw joined the squad on a month’s loan from Oldham Athletic on Tuesday. He debuted against Glossop and adds to Phil Brown’s options in attack. Midfielder Rory Cormack has been promoted from the under 21’s and has signed for the first team to help boost the squad. He was an unused substitute on Tuesday evening.
Phil Brown should have a squad of 17 to choose from.
Witton Albion are sat just outside of the play-off places and have won 7 of their 12 home fixtures this season and are the 4th highest goal scorers in the league. They are very strong in attack with Duckworth and Hughes scoring 26 times between them already, ably backed up by the assists and deliveries from Rokka. In their last game on Tuesday night at home to Newcastle Town, despite going a goal down after 15 minutes, the Albs hit back and only took 5 minutes to equalise through Elliot Rokka and a further 3 minutes to take the lead thanks to a goal from Kingsley Williams. A third goal in the second half from James Lawrie made the score line more comfortable. Interestingly, Witton only had 3 on the bench on Tuesday night and Connor Hughes has missed the last 3 games through knee injury. This has prompted Jon Macken to sign winger/midfielder Oliver Putnam from Warrington Town. Albion have won 2 drawn 2 and lost 2 in their last 6 outings.
The Reds have moved up to 16th place after beating Glossop North End 3-0 on Tuesday night at Holt House. Their second clean sheet in a row was most welcome and they found their shooting boots in front of goal. Solid at the back and in the middle, the Reds looked quick and vibrant in attack, pouncing on their opponents’ defensive frailties. Witton will be a more testing challenge, but the Reds go there in a more confident frame of mind and will be conscious that Albion have only kept 2 clean sheets in 34 league and cup games this season, and they will be without their prolific goal scorer Connor Hughes. Another point on the road would be a good result, and well earned, and would prove to be another step in the right direction, as the young Lions look to continue to climb the league table.
Admission Prices are:
Adults : £10
Concessions : £6
18-21 : £4
Under 18’s - £2
Witton Albion Football Club
Sat 4th March - Skelmersdale United v Colne - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 11th March - Colne v Workington - 15:00 NPL West
Sat 18th March - Colne v Newcastle Town - 15:00 NPL West
Today’s NPL West games - 15:00
1874 Northwich v Runcorn Linnets
City of Liverpool v Clitheroe
Glossop North End v Prescot Cables
Leek Town v Trafford
Mossley v Kidsgrove Athletic
Newcastle Town v Skelmersdale United
Ramsbottom United v Bootle
Widnes v Hanley Town
Workington v Macclesfield