Radcliffe 2-0 Kendal Town: Boro move top of the Evo-Stik West table
By Daniel Pryer
Radcliffe moved two points clear at the top of the Evo-Stik West with a 2-0 win over Kendal Town at the Neuven Stadium on Tuesday night.
The home side started the brighter of the two in the first 10 minutes. Scott Metcalfe was a frequent feature along the left flank, and his attempt was fumbled behind from a tight angle.
Callum Grogan was next in the queue to record an effort on the 14th minute mark. His header was directed wide of Matthew Johnson's left-hand post.
12 minutes on, and West division Player of the Season contender Tunde Owolabi rounded the away side's number one, but couldn't find a finish past the on-coming Mintcakes defence.
Owolabi crashed an attempt three minutes later against the post after neat control, and that spurred on fan appreciation from the Fell End.
But the Kendal barrier was finally crushed on 41 minutes. Metcalfe produced a moment of magic from a free-kick 25-yards out, which curled inch-perfect into the top corner.
Jon Macken's side went all guns blazing in the second-half as Owolabi carved his way through Jordan Tucker to the by-line, but his final effort was blazed over.
Substitute Ben Wharton filed his first shot at goal on 59 minutes with an instinctive snap-volley on the turn, which only flew a whisker wide.
Wharton then got a second bite of the cherry and doubled Boro's lead to two. A beautifully whipped free-kick from Matty Crothers found the head of the number 16, who flicked it home past Johnson.
Kendal had to wait until the 83rd minute to submit their best chance of the match. Lewis Wainwright tried a speculative effort from 20-yards out, leaving Ollie Martin statue-esque but happy to see the ball flash wide.
The Boro now sit with a two point cushion above Atherton Collieries for three days at least.
It could, and should have been more
The score line of 2-0 would have certainly flattered the visitors. It could have been the final score in the first 30 minutes of the game.
Owolabi had three golden chances to put the game to bed in a nine minute spell, if it wasn't for smart defending from Kendal and the post.
Grogan had two opportunities of his own from corner-kicks, but couldn't direct his headers passed the white line of the goal.
Macken would have been pleased with the manufacturing of chances throughout the game, but would have been left scratching his head at how the score wasn't more.
Limiting the opponent again
Once again, the back-four were imperious in limiting the Mintcakes. Kyle Harrison and Lee Neville produced the attacking energy, whilst also knowing their role in defence when needed.
Grogan and captain Rick Smith showed their importance to the side by sniffing out the sporadic Kendal danger when necessary.
The defence set up camp on the half-way line for most of the tie, rubberstamping their authority and recycling possession towards the midfield and attack.
March Player of the Month Martin was left alone on his line for 80% of the game, until the visitors were forced to try their luck from range. It could have been goal of the game by Wainwright, but that confirmed their best chance of the game.
Boro now record four clean sheets in a row.
A performance of royalty: Man of the Match - Prince Haywood
Out of many good performances across the starting 11 and substitutes, the standout man was Prince Haywood.
An unsung hero this season, he epitomized why he was with fantastic energy in the middle of the park, despite only a three-day rest.
He sniffed out the danger when there was, and made his role look simple. As well as the defence, he was able to stop the first wave of offensive passes from the away side and tried to set up openings for Owolabi and Aaron Burns.
The freshness looked as though he had a two week break.