County’s Cup Runneth Out, With Defeat Against The Vics.
The Hatters bowed out of the Cheshire Senior Cup, after being narrowly beaten by North West Counties Premier League Northwich Victoria at Witton Albion’s Wincham Park ground – with Tom Kilifin’s single-goal winner having arrived early in the second half to settle the tie in normal time.
It was a creditable performance against the ‘Vics’ by a predominantly young County side whose starting line-up featured no fewer than six non-contract players from the club’s Academy. Most first-team regulars were rested for the short trip, although Tyler Garratt, Sam Walker – who was made captain for the night – and Frank Mulhern all travelled to start as part of a 3-5-2 formation.
The first chance of note fell to the Hatters after Mulhern had been fouled by Kieran Kenny 25 yards out, with just over a dozen minutes played. Walker lofted his free-kick towards the right post, from where Jordan Downing headed over.
Kenny, having picked up the evening’s inaugural yellow card for his earlier indiscretion, almost made amends at the other end five minutes later – but his close-range header lacked pace, and was comfortably held by Dimeji Willan.
Two Mulhern free-kicks within as many minutes tested home goalkeeper Daniel Taberner, who parried the first behind and dived to smother the second – before Matty Clarke, who had also been booked for the Vics within the opening quarter of an hour, drilled narrowly past the left post.
Two minutes from the end of an even half, Kilifin went closest of all after cutting in on the right and unleashing a shot that Willan deflected against the near upright.
HALF-TIME: Northwich 0, County 0.
Kilifin again threatened County just after the resumption, when his header was tipped around the right post by Willan. And from Ryan Winder’s resulting corner on the right, Kenny nodded towards goal – only for Josh Robinson to clear his effort off the line.
The respite for the Hatters was, alas, only temporary – as, within 10 second-half minutes, Kilifin connected with another Winder corner from the right to head home inside the near upright and put the hosts in front.
As rain began to fall, the Hatters, on an increasingly greasy surface, and their chances of further progression in the tournament, were slipping around and away in tandem.
The half yielded few additional opportunities – focusing hopes of knockout glory this term on the FA Trophy, in which County visit Dorking Wanderers three days hence.
FULL-TIME: Northwich 1 (Kilifin, 55), County 0.
Team (3-5-2): Willan; Stanyer, Downing, Garratt; Nyaupembe, Hopkins, Hinchy (Rattle, 84), Walker (Capt.), Robinson (Tucker, 78); Czubik (Cooper, 80), Mulhern.
Unused Subs: Hargreaves, Brennan.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.