Saturday, April 8, 2006

ONLY on rare occasions do player-of-the-month awards look cut and dried within the second week.

But how can anyone argue against Adam Webster picking up April's Nationwide North gong now, just 10 days into the month?

Not happy silencing Stalybridge Celtic with a match-winning brace last Tuesday, wizard Webster went one better at Leigh by slamming four goals for the first time in his career.

The sorry Railwaymen are one of a handful of clubs that video-record home games. Fortunate then for Webster, who should get straight on the blower to Hilton Park and order a copy to enjoy again and again.

"I don't think I've ever got four before," said the delighted striker. "I've got a couple of hat-tricks in my time, but never four.

"It was one of those days where everything went for me. I probably had about five, maybe six shots and four of them have gone in. I can't complain!"

Webster has never played better at City since joining more than four years ago and the second of his four strikes embodied the high level of confidence oozing from the 25-year-old.

Bettering his pearler at Bower Fold five days earlier, when volleying home Jai Stanley's peach cross, Webster this time arced a wonderful, bending 25-yard shot into the top corner.

Nobody expected it, least of all former City goalkeeper James Coates, who could only stand and admire the ball's trajectory.

Webster was at the top of his game and, unfortunately for Leigh, so were his team-mates. After a wonderful display at Celtic, City boss Andy Preece called on his players to sustain those same high standards -- and they did, despite falling behind to a shock goal.

Mark Danks, back from a three-game ban, enjoyed a superb return.

While Webster bestowed the killer touch, nimble Danks tormented Leigh's shaky defence and deserved two goals of his own.

City's midfield trio -- George Clegg, Nick Colley and Stanley --were neat and inventive, sticking to a crisp, passing game when conditions were not the best, while Adam Burley and Rob Warner offered excellent support on the flanks.

Even on a boggy surface -- and in the face of heavy rain early on -- the defensive unit was comfortable for most parts.

Des Lyttle was, however, caught cold when the Railwaymen snatched a surprise fifth-minute lead.

From a spearing long ball, the City skipper lost his footing just inside his own half, allowing Chris Simm to romp through on goal.

Lewis Skyers parried Simm's acute-angled effort, but Gary Williams raced in to bury the loose ball.

Refusing to panic, City probed away effectively and it was only a matter of time before the visitors drew level.

Colley and Chris Smith both edged close until Webster opened his account on 16 minutes.

After a one-two with Danks inside the box, Webster flicked the ball past George Melling before dispatching past Coates from close range.

Six minutes later and Webster had City's vocal supporters celebrating a magnificent second strike.

Collecting Burley's pass 25 yards out, back to goal and with Scott Willis snapping at his heels, an attempt on goal looked impossible.

But with a snap-turn and whip of his right boot, Webster gave Coates no chance with a spectacular curling shot.

City extended their lead within two minutes of the re-start. Danks' dipping 30-yard effort looped over Coates and cannoned off the upright. Without fail, Webster sensed an opportunity and converted the rebound.

Leigh could not contain Danks, who ran the home defenders a merry dance on route to City's fourth.

After bursting past Andy Roscoe, Melling and Liam Coyne, Danks deserved to see his name on the scoresheet. But Coates fisted away his drive, only for Webster to head home.

Unlucky Danks was denied by the woodwork again, smacking the post following Webster's teasing low cross.

CITY: Skyers, Warner, Burley, Pearce, Smith, Lyttle, Stanley (Warmer 78), Colley (Walker 72), Danks (Wood 87), Webster, Clegg. Subs not used: Preece, Khan.