Widnes manager Michael Ellison insists they’re still in the “dogfight” after moving out of the relegation zone for the first time since August.
The Whites moved out of the bottom four thanks to their commanding 3-0 win over rivals City of Liverpool. It was a miserable night for the Purps in the freezing temperatures as some familiar faces made sure they were left feeling the cold.
Former players Connor McCarthy and Will Jones, managed by ex-manager Ellison, were on target in the win as they boosted their survival hopes.
Their latest win follows an impressive turnaround at the DCBL Stadium, in their last 10 outings, they have managed 17 points and sit fourth in the form table in their last six games.
“I thought we were excellent, I thought we well deserved the win, the first-half I was disappointed to only go in 1-0 up – we could’ve made it a lot easier with some of the opportunities missed, Millsey [Sean Miller] had a fantastic one, lovely move, great touch and he’s just hit it over,” said Ellison speaking to Off The Park.
“We went in 1-0 up and we had a few choice words and the lads had a little go at each other, we got a reaction from them, they come out second-half and turned it on.
“We thought they’d come out and have a go, the plan was we’d have to change something, get in behind them, get runners – third man runners – and we got the goal from that. It was a great ball, great finish and once that second one goes in it gives you a foothold in the game and the third killed it off. I thought we were decent and we were well worth the win.”
There are 12 days remaining in the registration market for non-league teams with Widnes eyeing one or two more additions to bolster their ranks heading into the latter stages of the Northern Premier League West campaign.
There is a 10-day gap between Friday’s win and their next outing when they host high-flying Leek Town. There are seven games to ensure that Widnes remain in step eight of English football.
Basking in their triumph, Widnes players were in a jovial mood after the match as they roared towards their supporters after showing their appreciation and Ellison was keen to praise his players.
He added: “We’ve played really really well and it’s been like that for a number of months. When Runcorn Linnets came here, we went down to 10 men and we were absolutely outstanding during the game.
“Another clean sheet, we’ve spoken about that in the last few weeks but it was nice to get a reaction because we’ve gone to Trafford and got beat, on the outside looking in it looks like they’ve done a number on us but we were well in that game, we were unfortunate.
“I didn’t want to be too critical but the lads showed a reaction today, they were outstanding and some of the football we played was great – that’s down to the lads, they deserve all the credit.”
The result is almost the complete opposite to the one that City of Liverpool inflicted on Ellison’s Widnes side during the early stages of his tenure in a 4-0 win.
Five months on, it was Widnes who were on the front foot and firing in three goals, two of which came within five minutes of each other after the interval.
“It happened to be my old club and there’s a lot of good people at the football club, we had to go there early in my tenure and we got a hiding, City of Liverpool were much the better side,” Ellison said. “I thought it was the opposite tonight, we were much the better side, it shows how far we come. We’re a different squad, we have a different mentality, I thought we were well worth the win.
“I thought we took our foot off the gas a bit, which is understandable after we scored our third goal, you’re always thinking if they get one back they’re in it.
“They’ve got Jack Hazlehurst, Danny Mitchley – a goalscorer, a handful – but I thought our back four kept them really quiet.
“The two lads in front, Laurence Smith and Ste Irwin worked their socks off, Millsy, Josh [Quarless] and Connor [McCarthy] didn’t stop running, Nelson [Digbeu] and Jack [Byrne] were outstanding and Cam [Terry] behind them.
With the jubilant scenes after the match and in the dressing room, Ellison admits that they are far from clear of the threat of slipping into the North West Counties.
But the positive signs are there, he concluded: “We look hard to beat, we’re keeping clean sheets, we’re in every game we play, that’s all you can ask for but we’re not getting carried away, we’re still in a dogfight, if teams win tomorrow the pressure is back on you.
“We’ve put the pressure on them and it’s over to them, we’ve got 10 days off, we’ll work hard, train, put a gameplan together and try get the points next Tuesday.
“I said the other week, I think we left it a bit late, we should have more points on the board and that’s down to me, I’m the manager. I’ve made some mistakes along the way, I’ve got some things wrong, it’s taken a bit of time to get lads in to recruit but I don’t think we’re far off.
“One or two more and I think we’re a really good side. Anyone who has played us in recent months, speaking to opposition managers and they’re all complimentary, that’s all well and good but you’ve got to back it up with results and we’re starting to do that now.”