6:19pm Saturday 24th January 2009
By Andrew Simpson
WITTON drew home comfort – at long last – thanks to Neil Black’s late winner.
This, a first win in front of their own fans since September, also lifted them out of the bottom four.
It could be worth more than three points.
The Rebels, rightly, will curse their luck after seeing the ball hit the Witton woodwork half a dozen times in a frantic second half.
But they were still in the contest only due to Albion’s profligacy in front of goal.
Black, the main culprit, made amends with his scrambled touch in stoppage time, but his feeble finishing could have cost the hosts precious points.
Football logic should have made him an obvious choice to nick the decider.
A tepid first half provided the perfect smokescreen for what was to follow later.
Rob Nugent headed Jerome Wright’s flag kick against the bar on 37 minutes – the first attacking effort of note.
Albion hit the front six minutes later, Lee Thompson powering a perfect header into the top corner from Danny Warner’s corner.
The second half was one to savour.
Thompson held his head after sending a diving header thumping against the bar from Kieran Lugsden’s centre on 55 minutes.
It was the cue for attacking mayhem.
Tris Whitman scampered onto Dave Neville’s lofted through ball to poke a shot under Greg Smith to level two minutes later.
Black then put a mark of the same colour next to his name.
Twice he scampered clear to face keeper Sam Ashton, both times he blasted straight at the visitors’ custodian.
At the other end Nugent again headed a Wright set piece against the woodwork, former Albion striker and the league’s leading marksman Kyle Wilson hooking the rebound back against the bar.
The visitors flooded forward after that, Wilson drilling a shot against the inside of the post after Wright had pounced on Oliver James’ dreadful pass on the halfway line.
James escaped again when Smith clawed his sliced clearance out of the top corner, Simon Carden turning the loose ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
Whitman’s mis-hit cross clipped the top of the bar, then sub Carlos Roca was next to go close when his fizzing shot slammed the upright with Smith a spectator.
A winner appeared inevitable, except it was Albion that nicked it.
Lugsden’s deep free kick was headed down by Brian Pritchard for Black, whose weak touch was enough to fool Ashton.