praise for gutsy borough

Ben Whitham scored both Todmorden Borough's goals on Saturday
Ben Whitham scored both Todmorden Borough's goals on Saturday

Ben Whitham grabbed the glory but all 18 players who made themselves available for Todmorden Borough last Saturday earned praise from boss Craig Milnes.

Whitham scored twice in the space of 10 minutes midway through the second half as Tod hit back from a goal down to win their foot of the table game at Stoneclough 2-1.

It lifted Milnes’ side to third from bottom in Division Two of the West Lancashire League and Borough have a great chance to make it a memorable eight days when they travel to Walney Island on Saturday.

The Cumbrians lost 6-0 away to powerful Leyland United last weekend and slipped to the bottom with only two wins from 11 outings.

Milnes, plunged into the hot seat when management pair Steve Hook and John Gilford quit a month since, thought Saturday’s victory was further evidence that Borough were turning the corner.

“Everyone was chuffed to pieces with Saturday’s win,” he said.

“Even those who were on the bench and didn’t get on had a smile on their faces.

“The lads are wanting to play for each other and they are enjoying it again.”

After struggling for a team to start with, Milnes had 18 players available for the trip to Greater Manchester.

He admitted he had drawn up “four of five different teams” as he weighed up who deserved to play and who would give him his strongest line-up.

In the end the result justified Milnes’ selection, although it was far from plain sailing as it needed some heroic work from ‘keeper Elliott Gilford and his defence to keep the scoresheet blank in the first half.

Gilford made three excellent saves, including one brilliant tip over the bar from which the referee surprisingly awarded a goal kick, while Chris Kay headed another effort off the line.

It was far from one-way traffic on a smallish pitch, however, with Borough having an effort against a post and Cameron Hanson putting a header just wide when he probably should have scored.

While Stoneclough had more of the play in the first half, Borough played the better football in the second.

Milnes sent on Terry Lowe, who rattled a post, while Dean Farry was unable to convert a one-on-one opportunity.

John Smalley gave the hosts the lead with a fine free-kick on 62 minutes, prompting Milnes to send on an extra attacker in Jack Dungworth.

The visitors were rewarded with two similar goals from Whitham, who finished off fine approach play. The build-up to the second goal was particularly good.

Borough then saw out the game to register a first away win in seven league trips this season.

Whether Tod can add another remains to be seen with four of Saturday’s line-up unavailable for the Island excursion.

Midfielder James Peavoy and fullback Stevie Barker are at a wedding and left winger Dean Farry and defender Dan Lively are also missing.

That could mean starts for Dungworth and Lowe with Gaz Lawrence, who has returned to the club, and Adam Walker among the other candidates for places.

With no reserve team, Milnes had pledged to rotate players to keep them all fit and interested.

His options could be more limited for the first of two long trips on successive Saturdays .

Borough head to Millom, who are sixth before Saturday’s trip to Stoneclough, in nine days’ time.