Northwich Victoria 2 Squires Gate 1: Losing start to 2022 after close clash

Gate’s first competitive match of 2022 brought defeat in a close contest on Sunday.

By James Ashton
Monday, 17th January 2022, 12:30 pm

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Almost three weeks after their last North West Counties League action, this game got off to a fairly even start.

Gate’s first opening on 13 minutes saw Joel Mills show great movement to break clear but his attempted square ball for Jack Iley was claimed by the keeper.

Gate took the game to Northwich but could not force an equaliser Picture: IAN MOORE

The hosts made Luke Evans’ men pay for the missed chance as they took the lead just a minute later through Luke Sephton, whose run to the near-post at a corner was untracked and he fired home first time.

Vics doubled their lead on 18 minutes from another corner. Gate keeper Mike Hale got a punch to the initial delivery but the ball was not cleared and was bundled over the line by Ashley Dunn to put the hosts in control.

Gate began to apply pressure but the home defence remained solid, though Mills did head straight at the keeper from Saad Mekkaoui-Abouzaid’s pinpoint cross from the left.

The visitors did manage to get a goal back a minute before half-time through Iley.

Dan Gray did well to drive forward and find Mills, who fired across goal and Iley tapped in at the back post.

Vics went close to a third at the start of the second half as a free header from a corner went narrowly wide, then a shot from a tight angle was tipped away by Hale.

Gate survived this pressure and threatened themselves, though dangerous crosses by Ryan Riley and Alex Welsh evaded the attackers in the box.

Winger Riley’s excellent free-kick to the back post was poked wide by Mekkaoui-Abouzaid after an hour.

Olly Muir’s vital deflection turned a Vics shot from the edge of the box just wide.

Mills threatened on the counter for Gate and substitute Max Rogers looked sharp, cutting in from the left and firing just over from the edge of the box on 77 minutes.

Mills had an even better chance a minute later, collecting a good pass from Mekkaoui-Abouzaid and shooting powerfully over the bar.

Gate introduced new signing Francesco Giannetto for the closing stages but Vics saw out the game professionally for the win.

Evans’ side remain 17th in the premier division, while Vics climb a spot to eighth.

Gate: Hale, Ridings, Welsh, Gray, Muir, Westwood, Riley, Webster, Iley, Mills, Mekkaoui-Abouzaid; Subs:Burgess, Rogers, Wyers-Roebuck, Giannetto, Abankwah

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