Widnes win promotion
Mon 7th May 2018 | Widnes | By Ian Templeman
Congratulations to Widnes, who clinched the runners-up spot in the Premier Division, and promotion to the Evo-Stik League, with a 1-0 win at Ashton Athletic.
On a sunny afternoon at Brocstedes Park, the crucial goal arrived in the 8th minute of the game, when Jack Bannister buried a well struck shot into the bottom corner of the net from a low Jay Roberts cross.
Widnes certainly didn't have it all their own way though, and had goalkeeper Richie Mottram - just announced as the winner of the Reusch Premier Division Goalkeeper of the Month in April - to thank for some fine saves in the second half.
The pick of those was on 52 minutes, when a free kick frm AshtoN Athetic's Bram Johnstone took a deflection off Daniel Regan, but Mottram reacted quickly to pull off a great save to his right.
But despite one or two nervous moments towards the end, Widnes held out to secure the win, and celebrations began after the final whistle.
Widnes joint manager Steve Akrigg, who took over the managerial reins in mid-October with Kevin Towey, paid tribute to the players and their performances throughout the season.
"We have gone well above expectation level, that is for sure", he said.
"When we took the job on we were probably mid-table or lower, and we didn’t really have games in hand to catch up.
"It took us four to six weeks to get it right to be honest, and we had a couple of ropey games where lost and drew.
"Then we went on an unbelievable run where it was 17 games of just winning, and put us in a place where we weren’t actually that far behind Runcorn Linnets in the end.
"Obviously they have gone on to win the league and they thoroughly deserve it, as they have been the most consistent team over the whole year.
"Since we have come in, the lads have been absolutely great. Most of them have stayed on from the last regime, we have added a couple, and they have taken everything we have given them on board.
"They have produced every week and now that has taken to a position where we have won promotion and got to a cup final".
Widnes Chairman Ian Ross said: "It’s been a great season.
"Pre-season our goal was to get promoted, so it’s great we’ve achieved that target for the second year in a row, even though it’s been a little bit messy along the way.
"The management team have been fantastic, and to be fair we had some really good applicants, but the reason we went for them was the continuity. We felt we had a lot of good things going on at the club, and we didn’t need a fresh start.
"They are still playing too, and have got a very good management style between them, and I suppose having a centre half and a striker as well certainly helps to keep the balance in the team.
"They’ve been fantastic, and the respect all the lads gave them from day one was brilliant".
The squad were presented with the Premier Division runners-up trophy after the game by League Management Committee representative Ian Williams.
Photo courtesy of Pete Barton.