Athletic are on the right track

Swinton Athletic.  Back l/r Josh Cooke, Ricky Parker, Luke Shaw, Jason Warren, Gareth Halford, Tony Davies and Carl Cragg.   Front l/r Steven Hughes, Matt Owen, Dan Crossland, Pete Jepson, Scott Jones and Ryan Jones.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Swinton Athletic. Back l/r Josh Cooke, Ricky Parker, Luke Shaw, Jason Warren, Gareth Halford, Tony Davies and Carl Cragg. Front l/r Steven Hughes, Matt Owen, Dan Crossland, Pete Jepson, Scott Jones and Ryan Jones. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Swinton Athletic warmed up for this weekend’s tough clash against Division One leaders FC Central, with a 1-1 draw against Westwoodside.

Mid-table Doncaster Senior League side Swinton, who fell behind against Rangers before hitting back to equalise, host an FC Central side which has lost just one of its six games so far, and look like early frontrunners to seal promotion to the Premier Division.

Ryan Jones sent his Swinton side out in a new formation, and they almost took an early lead when a fantastic long ball from Daniel Crossland was met by prolific striker Gareth Halford, whose effort missed the target by inches.

Westwoodside, who lost the services of new signing Lee Barnfield after developing a bug overnight, had their goalkeeper to thank as Ricky Parker and Scott Jones both saw their efforts denied.

The game remained deadlocked at 0-0 at half time, as both sides struggled to make the most of their opportunities created.

But Westwoodside took the lead in the second half after Owen McCaughey played a pin-point pass to Myles Whitehead, who finished from close range.

The opening goal seemed to deflate Swinton somewhat after their good start to the second half, but they almost got back on level terms when a searching run from Tony Davies ended in a thunderous effort that rattled the Westwoodside crossbar.

But they eventually did draw level when a throughball from Ricky Parker was met by the clinical Halford, who this time made no mistake by finding the top corner of the Westwoodside goal.

Swinton’s man of the match was awarded to Matthew Owen. “He covered every blade of grass on the pitch, and put in a real workmanlike performance,” boss Jones said.

He added: “I think that although we were the better side, the missed chances in the first half cost us the three points.

“But I was impressed with the character shown to come back from a goal down, and a point away from home is always a good point.”

“We now face a tough test against FC Central,” Jones continued.

“They’re top of the table, but our lads will be looking to avenge our 5-3 defeat on the opening day of the season.”

Beyond Saturday’s game, however, Jones has somewhat more ambitious plans for his reserve team.

“I’m just looking to build my squad for the long term,” Jones added.

“Hopefully we can achieve a top-four finish this season, and look for promotion next year with a big push towards County Senior standard football.

“That was something done by first team manager Andy Billups in five seasons, and that’s an inspiration for me to push my reserve team as far as possible.”

n Swinton are holding another of their successful reunion nights next Friday (November 1), with former Bradford City and Hull legend Dean Windass as a guest speaker. Tickets cost £10, which include pie and peas and a Swinton Athletic quiz.