Pictures John Hopkins
WARRINGTON Town will have to do it via the play-offs if they are to earn promotion to National League North after their title hopes were ended on Easter Monday.
The Yellows were held to a goalless draw by Witton Albion on a frustrating afternoon, just 48 hours after Paul Carden’s side had breathed new life in to the title race ahead of next weekend’s finale.
Guaranteed a home play-off semi-final, that will be against either Saturday’s opponents Buxton, Nantwich Town or Gainsborough on Tuesday week.
A dour first half that did little for the argument of Bank Holiday football in front of a bumper crowd of 733 saw very few openings between the two best defences in the league.
It took all of the first half hour to see any resemblance of a chance, a deep inswinging corner from Danny McKenna headed over by Joe Wardle, who really should have done better.
The only real chance, and probably the best of the game, came two minutes before the break when Tony Gray flicked on for Dylan Vassallo who through on goal shot to the keeper’s left, and Greg Hall got down and pushed it away.
In the second half, it soon became apparent that Witton would be happy with a point as still the game rarely saw any openings created.
Warrington had a strong shout for a penalty on 56 minutes when Vassallo released Jack Mackreth down the right and his ball to the front post was run onto by Gray, who got to it first and was then barged over by Luke Offord, the referee waving away claims for a spotkick.
The Yellows forced corner after corner without boasting a real chance of any note, though the introduction of Marcus Cusani and Bohan Dixon did liven them up.
Dixon almost scored with his first touch, barely seconds after coming on, glancing wide from Vassallo’s corner.
The substitute would then get away from his man in midfield to find Vassallo, who shot strongly across the ‘keeper Hall, who saved and then claimed the rebound.
Cusani was getting joy down the left hand side without finding the final ball, and then Dixon had a shot from 25 yards out that was comfortable for Hall.
The best chance came four minutes from time, Cusani beating his man in to the box and then pulling back for Gray, who blazed over on his left foot from eight yards.
As time wore on, the Yellows threw all they could at the visitors, Dixon steering a header over off Vassallo’s ball in and then Cusani cut in on his right looking to replicate his recent winner over Nantwich, this time meeting his match as Hall pushed the ball over the bar.
There was another chance in the dying seconds of injury time, Vassallo putting a terrific cross in to the front post with captain Mark Roberts in the box having been chucked up front for the final stages, but Witton stood firm.
Warrington sit third and round off the regular season with a trip to Buxton on Saturday, needing a result and a slip up by rivals South Shields to claim second place.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Duggan (McCarthy), Whittle, Garrity, Roberts, Raven, Mackreth (Cusani), Evans, Gray, Vassallo, Dunn (Dixon). Unused subs: Benjamin, Beeley.
Witton Albion: Hall, Lingouba (Gardner), Devine, Wardle, Offord, Smart, McKenna, Owens, Hopley, Doyle (Foley), Abadaki (Jones). Unused subs: Neild.