Widnes stun Prescot Cables in fresh Northern Premier League West playoff twist

Widnes beat rivals Prescot Cables 4-2

Widnes’ late surge into the playoffs was handed a major boost as they closed the gap to the top five with a 4-2 win over Prescot Cables. 

A third straight win for Michael Ellison’s side has catapulted them into the playoff picture with just three games remaining – taking them to within two points of Witton Albion, who currently sit in the final position. James Steele scored twice to make it 19 for the season and transform their faint hopes into firm contenders. 

While there was jubilation in the home dressing room, the visitors were left bitterly disappointed as they squandered the opportunity to secure a place in the playoff semi-final on April 30. Defeat for Prescot Cables will have send positive shockwaves to those vying for a place in the second, third, fourth and fifth as the race goes down to the wire.

Ste Daley’s side knew a win would’ve cemented their place in the top five. However after a cagey 30 minutes, Widnes were in front as Steele latched onto a through ball, firing through the legs of Mitch Allen. 

Ten minutes later, the hosts were awarded a controversial penalty after Jack Goodwin was alleged to have handled from Steele’s shot from point-blank range. Sean Miller stepped up, sending the Cables goalkeeper the wrong way to double their lead. 

A frenetic 10 minutes saw the encounter spark into life with Miller’s spotkick before Cables had a contentious penalty of their own. In almost identical circumstances, it was adjudged that the ball struck an arm – allowing James Foley the opportunity to pull a goal back fro the spot, which he did firing down the middle. 

After finding themselves two goals down heading into the break, Cables had halved the deficit and offered an avenue into the contest. Following the restart, they were back level after a calamitous moment from Cameron Terry. Allen’s searching kick forward saw the goalkeeper challenge with the Cables attacker – forcing a mistake before Kyle Sambor was on hand to convert the rebound.  

Minutes later, Francis Smith squandered a golden opportunity to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match. A superb one-two with Thomas Owens carved open the hosts but Smith sent his curling effort wide of the far post. 

Cables failed to capitalise on the luck that handed them parity with Widnes threatening as they looked to restore their lead. With eight minutes, they were back in front as Steele swept the ball home for his second of the evening, converting from Sharif Deans’ cutback. 

The former Altrincham attacker made and scored the goal that rubber-stamped the win for Ellison’s side. Deans picked up the ball on the left, cutting inside past two Cables defenders before steering past Allen sparking wild celebrations from the home bench.  

“I believe and the lads believe as well”

Widnes manager Michael Ellison told Off The Park: “Our information is the same, they find a bit of form and it’s at that stage of the season where every game is a must-win, you’ve got to give credit to the lads. It was a close game, I know you see 4-2 but it was tense first-half, it was even and they started better.

“Our goal was great, we cut them open and a brilliant finish from Steeley. I think we got a little bit of luck with the pen, you go 2-0 up then it’s ‘get in at half-time’. We’re sloppy in midfield, they get a cross in, is it a pen? I don’t think it is but he’s given the two so you can’t really argue. It was important we went in 2-1 then it’s the worst start possible, from where I was you’re getting a foul for that every day of the week – we don’t and then they’re on the ascendancy.

“The game got stretched, I don’t like that, they looked like they were going to score and miss a really good chance before we scored, which was against the run of play. After we got that goal, we settled down, we always looked dangerous in behind and that’s what got us joy.”

Three games remain for Widnes and on paper, they have one of the toughest run-ins with Kidsgrove Athletic, Runcorn Linnets and Nantwich Town to come. They sit two points off the playoffs, level on points with the Dabbers, ahead of them on goal difference.

But with the latest round of fixtures, both Paul Carden’s side and City of Liverpool can move ahead should they pick up points this weekend against Newcastle Town and Kidsgrove, respectively.

Ellison feels that there is belief in the dressing room that they can continue their late run into the top five but they must pick up maximum points. He added: “It’s alright saying: ‘can we put a run together?’ it’s another thing doing it.

“We’ve won three on the bounce, we’re on a decent little run but I do believe and the lads believe as well but the challenge is can we win all three (remaining games)? Because I think we have to win another three to get in there now. If you win them three, you deserve to get in and if you don’t, whoever gets in deserves it.

“All we have to do is win football matches, keep our season alive but all the credit has to go to our lads.”

“We were found wanting tonight”

Prescot Cables manager Ste Daley told Off The Park: “We could’ve secured playoffs tonight and it wasn’t to be. A poor performance if I’m honest, we haven’t had too many of them this year and sometimes you’ve got to take it on the chin, we’ve got to dust ourselves down and go again.

“It was frustrating but one thing I do know is that our lads are capable of coming back, which they did. It was more disappointing when we got into it, how open it was, we’ve got to be a little more clever – we wasn’t tonight, we were punished for it and take the lessons from it.

“Franny’s miss is a massive moment, and if there is one person that you want in there, it’s him on the end of it. Sometimes football doesn’t your way and we were found wanting tonight, it is what it is, you’ve got to move on.”

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