North West Counties First Division South: Wythenshawe Amateurs 0-2 New Mills
Mike Norton and Dave Birch’s Millers side recorded their long-awaited first victory of the season on Saturday, at a very damp Hollyhedge Park.
It came against a Wythenshawe Amateurs side that had enjoyed a promising start to the season, but had suffered something of a slump in September, collecting just one league point and losing four times.
The Millers had shown great character in midweek, in earning a late draw against high-flying West Didsbury & Chorlton, and they were boosted in the build-up by the news that James Neild and Ed Driver had passed late fitness tests and were available for selection.
With Nathan Ntalu unavailable, Driver slotted straight back into attack alongside Will Ozono, while Benito Lowe took the no.9 shirt from player-manager Mike Norton, who dropped to the bench. Nathan Webb was restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Brad McLaughlin, who also started among the substitutes.
The first half was an even affair - Neild and club skipper Adam Jones needed to be at their best to repel Ammies attacks, while Ozono and Driver probed out wide for the Millers.
It was Norton and Birch’s side who took the lead on 35 minutes, as Webb coolly slotted past Kyle Haslam for his third goal of the season.
The goal sparked the Millers into life and they ended the half strongly, going into the interval ahead. They were able to start the second half in similar fashion and doubled their lead within 10 minutes of the restart.
Ryan Shenton, the penalty hero from the West Didsbury & Chorlton game, saw his spot-kick saved but in the ensuing follow-up, the impressive Darren McKnight drove home to effectively end the contest.
While the Ammies made late efforts to mount a comeback, they were unable to get on the scoresheet as Man of the Match Jones marshalled the defence tremendously well and Alex Fowell in the Millers goal was not tested.
Fowell became the first Millers goalkeeper in 20 matches to record a clean sheet - the last being Stuart Morrison in a 2-0 victory over Abbey Hulton United at Church Lane back in February.
The Millers move on to six points for the season, and more importantly now within touching distance of the sides above. The Millers' Committee and Joint-Managers have their sights firmly set on a position much higher up the table, but patience is the key at this stage as they slowly but surely begin to accrue points.
The current four-match unbeaten run is the lengthiest for several years and a clear sign that the appointment of Norton and Birch was the right one.
Next up for the Millers is another away game in Wythenshawe on Tuesday evening, this time against Wythenshawe Town - rivals from the clubs' Manchester League days.
New Mills team: 1. Alex Fowell, 2. Adam Cooper (Taylor Maguire 52), 3. Mason Fallon, 4. Darren McKnight, 5. Adam Jones (c), 6. James Neild, 7. Nathan Webb, 8. Ryan Shenton, 9. Benito Lowe (Mike Norton 79), 10. Will Ozono, 11. Ed Driver (Brad McLaughlin 74). Unused sub: Chris Carroll.