Wincham Park – Witton Albion

17 Oct

Witton Albion – 3

Spennymoor Town – 1

FA Cup Third Qualifying Round – 15th October 2011

With Colwyn Bay‘s FA Cup Fever cured by a heavy dose of reality at Stocksbridge Park Steels,one result that stood out for me was Northern League Division 1 North’s Witton Albion, who managed to defeat Altrincham of the Conference North at Altrincham by 2 goals to 0. Since Altrincham absolutely destroyed us, I adopted Witton as my FA Cup team, but not only because they beat somebody who beat us embarassingly, but also because Witton contains plenty of former Colwyn Bay players, including Alex Titchener, Anthony Sheehan and Matty Wood. Furthermore, they were previously managed by Paul Ogden (former assitant manager) and Gary Finlay (former manager). As such, after a week from hell, I fancied returning to non league action.

I needed a good game. Wales were dumped out of the Rugby World Cup in the morning with some of the worst officiating I’ve ever seen, Colwyn Bay were on a slump and expected to be smashed by Stalybridge Celtic, and the expected write up of Bulgaria vs Wales in the European Championships didn’t materialise due to being scammed in a bar, falling ill, and having to reschedule my flight home for a day earlier. With Liverpool vs Manchester United earlier in the day, I decided to leave Manchester early and head to Northwich.

I’ve been to Northwich before, to watch Colwyn Bay play Northwich Victoria, in a backs to the wall job that ended with one goal that began to see us climb up the Evostik Northern Premier League. I was cruel about the town, but finding where the bars and a bit of life were, it isn’t so bad. I found a bar with the football on, and the atmosphere was jovial, but I left after 70 minutes of the Liverpool-United match to go to Wincham Park, which is not a million miles away from Northwich’s ground.

How many Non League Clubs have a Museum, eh?

Unlike Northwich’s ground, Witton’s ground is well and truly suitable for a team in the lower leagues. With a clubhouse with an impressive bottle ale section and – fantastically – hot food, a club shop and museum that contained plenty of memorabilia from a bygone era. After getting a steak lattice (not a pie!) and some nice chips, I headed to the touchline for the game.

Spennymoor fans were in fine voice

The atmosphere was electric. Spennymoor now reside in the Northern League with little chance of promotion (many North East sides refuse promotion due to travel) and are current Northern League champions. Nevertheless, with plenty of local games, clubs with a long history and good competitive football means that North East sides have a fair few fans, and Spennymoor is no different. They brought three coaches load of people and was keen to let the Witton fans that their silence had not gone unnoticed. This seemed to rile the Witton fans into life as on the other side of the segregation. It was kick off, and the 500 fans were singing. This was going to be an absolute belter.

Spennymoor On the attack from the beginning

Spennymoor kicked off with earnest and although technically there’s a league between the two sites, in all honesty there isn’t. Spennymoor pushed for the first 20 minutes, and got their reward with a goal from Jamie Harwood. A ball whipped in from the right wing was headed into the top right hand corner of the net. Spennymoor look good to go on to win, but five minutes later the Spennymoor keeper spilt a shot from Ollie James to give Witton a (slightly undeserved equaliser). This put the wind up Witton, and they pressed for a goal to take the lead. Anthony Sheehan scored with an amazing volley from just outside the area that left the keeper stranded. Come half time the score was 2-1 to the home side.

Witton had a sucession of corners, that didn't materialise to anything.

After a half time break when I checked the Bay score (a surprising 1-0 to the mighty seagulls), the teams took to the pitch for an impressive half of football. The half was fascinating as a neutral, nervy for a Witton fan. They were easily the better side, but were unable to convert chances, and you just felt that Spennymoor would nick a goal back. Witton had a penalty shout turned down and then immediately Spennymoor broke, hitting the bar from a Damien Moore header. Spennymoor also had a penalty shout turned down, and their luck finally run out when Alex Titchener ran into the box and scored in the bottom corner. The whistle blew soon after and final score was 3-1 to Witton in a cracking game.

After the game, as I had a couple of drinks in the clubhouse and spoke with a couple of the locals, hopes for the season and what they expect from the future. Spoke with a few Spennymoor fans on what they wish to do. Shame that the league is split North & South rather than East & West. If Northern League teams are to develop, this would help them.

But all in all, I had witnessed a cracking game of football. Witton’s a great club, and I wish them every success.

About Rhys Wynne

Rhys Wynne is the editor & creator of You're Supposed To Be At Home. For his sins, he is a Colwyn Bay & Liverpool fan, and a serial blog creator. You can follow Rhys on twitter here.

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