Radcliffe 1-0 Kidsgrove Athletic: Tunde Owolabi ensures Boro stay top dogs
By Daniel Pryer
Tunde Owolabi's first half strike was enough to keep Radcliffe at the top of the Evo-Stik West with a 1-0 win over Kidsgrove Athletic at the Neuven Stadium.
Fouls were drawn by the away side to start with. James Butler had Ben Wharton's card marked in the first 10 minutes, which saw the two trade their feelings on a previous challenge by the Grove player.
The first real chance of the match was through the away side's Anthony Malbon, 18 minutes in, who rounded Ollie Martin and tried to roll it in from an acute angle but the number one managed to scurry back and clear.
Tunde Owolabi broke through on the left-hand side, which saw him dribble past Chris Baker but eventually his effort was blocked by James O'Neil. Wharton felt the number eight could have squared it for a tap-in.
Boro then opened the scoring on 29 minutes. Cieran Harrison looked favourite for an easy catch, but he fumbled it into the path of Owolabi who lobbed a half-volley over the head and in.
The second half's early stages saw the same as the first. Tough challenges on Scott Metcalfe and Wharton earmarked and summed up the physicality of the game in the first five minutes.
Prince Haywood tried his luck from range after a short corner from Metcalfe, but his effort could only find the back of the stand, 55 minutes in.
Boro had a golden opportunity to double their lead on 70 minutes. Owolabi couldn't believe how he missed a clear-cut header from point-blanc range after an delicious cross from Metcalfe on the right.
A physical encounter, to say the least
The game itself had more tough tackles than chances created. It won't be remembered for its easy-on-the-eye rhythm, as the encounter was stop-start due to challenges from both sides.
Metcalfe and Wharton fell victim many times to tasty sliding challenges from the visitors, but Boro also had their fair-share with Haywood taking a slice out of Alex Morris.
All in all, Radcliffe showed another string to their bow. One which asserts a rough and tumble side, as well as a stylish footballing one.
Owolabi proves his impact yet again
Tunde Owolabi was the one who came up trumps again for the Boro, like he did so against Atherton Collieries last Saturday.
The majority of his 24-goals this season have either come in the first-half after being named in the starting 11, or coming off the bench in the second-45 to take the game away from the opponent.
It seems to be a feature in which Owolabi thrives in. It's credit to Jon Macken for spotting the impact he provides to the side, and it's certainly paid dividends.
Solid: Man of the Match - Rick Smith
The entirety of Boro's back-four, including Player of the Month Ollie Martin were sublime, but the captain Rick Smith was the standout performer.
He took control of his troops in defence and remained assured and calm despite the physicality of the task. He was pivotal in providing blocks and ensured the Grove's attack were limited to chances.
Macken's side record a fifth straight clean sheet as well as a seventh win in a row.