Saturday, October 29, 2005

WHERE would Worcester City be without their free-scoring defenders?

Not for the first time this season, one of the back lads showed the way as City's strikers continue to shoot Nationwide North blanks.

In last Monday's epic FA Cup replay, Chris Smith and Rob Warner came up trumps to conquer Accrington Stanley, while Les Hines and former centre-half Barry Woolley hit the mark beforehand.

The dice fell on Des Lyttle this time at St George's Lane, the veteran campaigner weaving free inside Barrow's crowded penalty box to head the winner and land City a deserved first league triumph in nine attempts.

It was also Lyttle's first strike in Worcester colours since March 1992, thereby establishing the longest time-span between competitive goals for a City player.

The 34-year-old former professional signed this summer for a second spell at the club and he anticipated his moment of glory after coming close to scoring in previous matches.

Justin Thompson is not a million miles away from marking his card too. On practically every occasion Liam McDonald swung a devilish set-piece into the Barrow danger-zone, the Canadian international zoomed to power the ball.

Inevitably, Thompson played a major role in the game's decisive move, steering McDonald's free-kick delivery into the path of Lyttle to bullet home.

Andy Morrison may have been absent in body at the Lane, instead scrutinising Chippenham Town to pin-point the strengths and weaknesses of Saturday's cup opponents.

But assistant boss 'Jock' still qualified to make an impact, as Worcester's goal came straight from the training ground.

"We work on things like that in training," said Lyttle, captain for the afternoon with Graham Hyde on the bench.

"Jock puts a lot into those sessions. He played himself and worked under a lot of managers. He's got all the ideas in his head and puts them down on paper on Tuesdays and Thursdays and we work on them.

"I think that's my first goal for about 15 years! It's good to get my first goal again, because when I played at the professional clubs, I only really went up for corners and free-kicks.

"I've come to Worcester and Jock and the gaffer seem to think I'm half-decent in the air for my size. They've been putting me up there, so it's nice to get a goal.

Lyttle added: "It was a good result and I think it's been coming. In the last five or six games, we've played some really good football and we've got our just rewards.

"It's great for the club that we've got this FA Cup run, but the league is the most important thing and we needed to pick up points.

"Hopefully, we will go on a roll and move from the bottom of the table.

"I think we should have won the game by a bit more. We should have been at least three or four goals up at half-time, but it was not to be."

Player-manager Andy Preece re-warded his FA Cup heroes by fielding an unchanged side, despite the return of skipper Hyde.

His young guns made a great start, creating two golden chances in the opening five minutes.

City survived a hairy moment when Michael Rankine's looping header beat Danny McDonnell all ends up and sailed fractions wide.

Despite the Cumbrians' effectiveness on the break, Worcester were generally in control and proved a constant threat from dead-ball situations.

The home side got their reward on 36 minutes, Lyttle squirming a yard of freedom inside the six-yard box to guide home Thompson's header.

City turned up the heat with four successive corners, from which Taylor denied Webster twice and Lyttle.

McDonnell made a crucial one-hand stop from Taylor minutes after the interval, while at the other end, Tom Warmer blazed over following a 40-yard dash as Kelly waited for a pass.

In the closing stages, Kelly greedily fired at Taylor with Hyde in a terrific position to finish the contest.

CITY: McDonnell, Warner, Hodnett, Smith, Thompson, Lyttle, Wedgbury (Hyde 66), Warmer, Kelly, Webster (Preece 75), McDonald. Subs not used: Clegg, Jones, Hines.