Kidsgrove Athletic 2 Northwich Victoria 1

Novus Stadium, Saturday 21st January 2017, 3pm

Kidsgrove made hard work of overcoming bottom side Northwich Victoria at the Novus Stadium, with some wasteful finishing, particularly in the second half, leading to an edgy conclusion.  Athletic managed to hold on to earn a win that sees them move into the top half of the league table.

Grove were under no illusions that the game against a Vics side managed by former Kidsgrove manager Paul Moore would be a straightforward affair, and the opening exchanges were even, with Harry Clayton stinging the palms of visiting keeper Dylan Forth on nine minutes.  The visitors won a couple of free kicks on the right of the area but were unable to trouble Chris Martin.

Ant Malbon's mazy across the box on 19 minutes lacked an end product, before Leon Ashman headed a free kick back across goal but the ball was hacked clear.

Although Athletic were enjoying the better of the possession, they were grateful to a sharp save from Martin on 23 minutes, tipping over a powerful shot from the lively Yaw Gyimah after he had got the better of the home defence.

Another spell of pressure for the home side followed, and Kidsgrove took the lead on 37 minutes when Malbon cleverly flicked the ball into the path of CLAYTON, who fired the ball under Forth from 12 yards out.

Clayton almost had the chance to double the lead two minutes later as George Mannion's back pass left Forth in trouble, but he was just able to clear as the home forward closed in.

The half ended with the visitors looking for an equaliser and after John Bennett had been fouled, David Short unleashed a powerful free kick that Martin did well to palm away for a corner.

HALF TIME: Kidsgrove Athletic 1 Northwich Victoria 0

Athletic opened the second half with Kyle Diskin having a shot saved by Forth's feet, before Vics enjoyed a good spell of possession, having a goal ruled out for offside after Martin had dropped the ball, and another effort from Short over the bar.

Kidsgrove should have extended their lead on the hour as Clayton broke forward and, rather than shooting, squared to Malbon who also failed to produce a finish, striking the side netting from close range.  Grove's captain had a further chance two minutes later but was denied by Forth's outstretched arm.

Short fired a further warning shot on 66 minutes as Northwich counter-attacked, but his long-range effort curled wide of Martin's upright.

The home fans' nerves we calmed somewhat on 68 minutes as Malbon held off two defenders to cross to CLAYTON who fired in on the turn from around the penalty spot.

Athletic held the two goal cushion until the 84th minute when a long ball found Gyimah, who set up Drew MATTHEWS to slot home after neatly finding space for a shot.

In injury time, substitute Chris Birchall came within inches of adding a third for Grove, his shot just missing the far post with Forth beaten. 

With the final whistle blown shortly after, Kidsgrove picked up the three points and maintained their unbeaten league start to 2017.  

Full Time: Kidsgrove Athletic 2 Northwich Victoria 1

Team: Chris Martin, Leon Ashman, Lewis Bergin, Ross Davidson (Chris Birchall 64), Ryan Austin, Dan Skelton, Kyle Diskin (Aaron Johns 82), Marc Grocott, Harry Clayton, Ant Malbon, Lee Pickerell.  

Unused Subs: Ash Hodgkinson, Dylan Bath, Kevin Street.

Att: 121