NCEL: Preston returns to notch vital Armthorpe winner

Stuart Preston (right) was on the scoresheet for Armthorpe.
Stuart Preston (right) was on the scoresheet for Armthorpe.
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Armthorpe Welfare came out on top 1-0 in their crunch clash with relegation rivals Brigg Town at Church Street.

The returning Stuart Preston came off the bench to hit a late winner that earned Welfare a priceless three points.

Brian Johnston’s side had gone into the game having drawn one and lost four of their last five league games.

They were five points behind fourth from bottom Brigg at the start of play, with three games in hand.

With so much at stake, added to the blustery conditions, it was never going to be a classic.

In a scrappy first half it was Brigg that settled the quickest but without causing the Armthorpe defence too many problems.

Johnston‘s side though began to warm to the task and finished the half strongly but they too failed to create any clear cut openings.

The second half saw Armthorpe begin to get the upper hand, forcing a procession of corners, one of which saw James Handley have an effort cleared off the line.

Welfare’s persistence finally paid off with 12 minutes remaining and although it was a scrappy goal, Armthorpe won’t care too much about that.

A ball into the box had caused a scramble and when it broke to Preston at the back post the substitute gleefully slammed the ball home.

The win was not enough to lift Welfare out of the bottom two but it did move them to within two points of both Brigg and Parkgate and three behind fifth from bottom Nostell, who have also played three games more.

Armthorpe face a tough trip to title-chasing Worksop Town this weekend. The Tigers won 4-0 at Church Street at the beginning of September. However, they are far from invincible at Sandy Lane where they have already been beaten four times in the league.

Welfare have a much bigger game in terms of their relegation battle next Tuesday when they host Pontefract Collieries.

As things stand the visitors have slipped to sixth from bottom, just four points ahead of Welfare, following a dreadful run of form that has seen them lose the last six on the spin, giving Armthorpe further encouragement of completing a league double following a 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture on the opening day.