Colne F.C. 2-3 Widnes F.C.
Colne came down with a bump after their exploits in the FA Cup in the pevious week when they suffered a home defeat at the hands of Widnes at the Sovereign Play Stadium on Saturday. In a game that saw a 20 minute delay due to an injury to the referee in the first half, the Reds led from the first minute but conceded three times in the second half as they failed to maintain their hold on the game.
The game was less than a minute old when Billy Hasler-Cregg cut in from the left wing and saw his shot parried by Widnes keeper Owen Wheeler for Sefton Gonzales to tap home at the far post and give Colne the lead.
Colne continued to create chances as Waqas Azam’s free kick found Tony Donaldson in a good position but he lifted his shot over the top of the Widnes goal. At the other end, a good run by James Steele created an opening for Fisnik Hajdari and his firm shot was well held by Hakan Burton on the goal-line.
After 20 minutes, the referee collapsed with a leg injury and it needed a further 20 minutes until the game could continue with a replacement having been found.
Colne pressed forward with a series of promising attacks as Max Hazeldine and Azam linked well on the right wing and Hasler-Cregg supplied crosses from the left. But Gonzales headed wide at the far post from Donaldson’s cross just before the interval. And Widnes sounded a warning when Lewis Buckley tested Burton with a good shot and Ben Hodkinson headed just over the Colne crossbar from a clear opening.
As the second half began, Colne threatened with a flurry of attacks and Lee Pugh’s diagonal cross was punched clear by Wheeler from his goalmouth before Will Harris’ close range shot was blocked at the near post in a subsequent move.
On the hour, Hodkinson slipped through the Colne defence and was only denied by a save by Burton using his feet. And as Widnes stepped up the pressure, Burton and Pugh made vital clearances from the Reds penalty area. After 65 minutes, the visitors drew level when Danny Shaw headed home at the far post for the equaliser following a corner.
Colne looked to regain the lead but it was Widnes who looked the more likely to score and the visitors took the lead after 76 minutes when substitute Michael Grogan headed home at the far post following a cross from the bye-line. Five minutes later, Grogan made it three for Widnes when he blasted home from close range as a free kick fell to him in the Colne goalmouth.
In the closing stages, Colne pushed forward looking to salvage something from the game and won a penalty when Brad Knox was brought down in a crowded Widnes area. Aidan Chippendale converted from the spot to reduce the arrears to a single goal at 3-2. And in the final minutes of the game, Harris flashed a header just past the post of the visitors’ goal but Widnes held on to take all three points in a close fought game.
Alex Coleman (C)