First Team vs. Northwich Victoria (2 : 1)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
Sheffield FC put their recent poor run of form behind them with a hard-earned 2-1 win over fellow challengers Northwich Victoria writes David Bell. Returns for Callum Harrison and Tyrone Thompson helped guide Club back into playoff contention and banish memories of a wretched last few weeks.
Club again lined up in a 5-3-2 formation and there were surprise returns for both Callum Harrison and Tyrone Thompson, both out of the picture from several weeks hence. It was Sheffield who were first to show as a Vill Powell twenty yard half volley fizzed over with just a couple of minutes gone. Defensive frailties once again reared their ugly head just four minutes later as Connor ROBERTS was allowed the space to run at the Club rearguard and place a tidy shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. The Sheffield of recent weeks may have huffed and puffed with such a setback but dug deep this time to almost immediately haul themselves back into the contest. A low driven Steve Woolley cross was fumbled by Vic’s keeper Ryan Robinson and Vill POWELL was on hand with a typical poachers finish.
Buoyed by the comeback, Sheffield proceeded to compete for the remainder of the half with much vigour. Club used their wide men to great effect; Chris Adam firing just wide from twenty yards on 17 minutes and a mazy run by Steve Woolley that was reminiscent of John Barnes in the Maracana ended with Robinson making a fine stop with his legs. Another Woolley cross saw Ricky Mercer almost slice through his own goal and despite a couple of threatening runs by Northwich’s Joe Guest, the visitors had little to offer in reply.
Within thirty seconds of the restart, a defensive lapse saw Club concede a corner from which Hardiker placed his header straight into the grateful arms of Liam Flynn. On fifty two minutes, Steve Woolley continued to menace the Vic’s defence, winning a free kick at the expense of Callum Henry. The resultant cross saw Adam hit a left footed half volley that crashed against the post. Woolley was a thorn in the side of Northwich all evening and on 63 minutes turned provider for Powell, who just headed over. Sheffield’s dominance told just two minutes later as substitute James Knowles fed Chris ADAM from the right, who managed to slide his shot past the on-rushing Robinson from twelve yards out to give Club a 2-1 advantage. The referee Mr Richardson saw fit to brandish his yellow card on several occasions, notably to Jamie Hadfield and skipper Anton Foster as Club attempted to hang on to their advantage. Nails were chewed to the quick as Flynn turned a shot from Peach round the post three minutes into time added on but it was Sheffield who deservedly held on and returned to the playoff berths in fifth position.
A ‘slight return’ to form for Sheffield that has come in timely fashion as they pay a visit to third-placed Stamford on Saturday. Whilst not an absolute classic performance, Curtis Woodhouse will surely have been pleased with the effort and desire shown by his men. A performance of similar magnitude will be a must against the Lincolnshire side, who have a five point advantage over their fellow playoff contenders.
Sheffield FC: Flynn, Turner (Knowles), Woolley, Featherstone, Hadfield, Clayton, Thompson, Foster ©, Powell, Harrison (Wall), Adam (McKenzie). Subs Not Used: White, Roney.
Northwich Victoria FC: Robinson, Grey, Guest, Henry, Hardiker ©, Mercer, McDonagh (Luby), Mooney (Rigoglioso), Peach, Roberts, Connor (Nolan). Subs Not Used: Wright.