By Christopher Sweetman
Click here for Castle Manager, Robin Van der Laan's, reaction to todays 3-2 victory.
WILL Lloyd’s first goal of the season sparked a thrilling and much needed win for Newcastle Town, as they edged Prescot Cables 3-2 at the Red Industries Stadium.
Before the start of the game, there was a display by both teams in support of the Football V Homophobia campaign.
Newcastle came into the game looking to arrest a poor run of one win in their last ten matches, against the playoff chasing Cables.
To that end, they dominated the first half, with Lloyd’s well taken goal a just reward, although they would have been disappointed not to add more.
That was quickly corrected after the break, as Nathan Morley doubled the lead within minutes of the restart with a thunderous strike.
However, Prescot came back with two quick goals for Kyle Sambor and John Murphy to draw level.
But Newcastle kept themselves in the game, and Jack van der Laan’s penalty ten minutes from time secured a vital three points.
Despite dominating the first half, Newcastle began the game under pressure, with an early Prescot ball to John Murphy almost creating a chance.
However, Newcastle quickly rallied, and almost took an early lead after great work by Nathan Morley, only for Oliver Ritchie’s shot to hit a defender.
Prescot were without star midfield Tom Dean, and struggled to deal with Newcastle’s pressing and ariel game throughout the first half.
However, Newcastle initially struggled to develop their dominance into chances through the opening fifteen minutes, with Prescot scrambling well to restrict time and space.
That all changed around the twenty-minute mark, as Prescot failed to clear a free kick into the box, and after a brief scramble, Lloyd hammered home for a well-deserved lead.
Newcastle refused to sit back on their lead, and almost doubled the advantage twice in the next five minutes.
First, a Kyle Stubbs long throw fell to Tommy van der Laan, whose shot hit the underside of the crossbar and somehow rebounded out of the net.
Then Stubbs went for goal from a free kick, with his low shot just about gathered at the second attempt by Prescot keeper and captain Mitchell Allen.
Prescot then should have drawn level, as a well-placed long ball fell perfectly for Sambor, who for some reason refused to touch it, instead letting it go for a goal kick.
Alerted by this, Newcastle continued to push for a second, with Tommy van der Laan’s header off Stubbs’ throw claimed by Allen.
However, with the break looming, Prescot once again spurned an opportunity to equalise, as Murphy found himself in a perfect shooting position.
But, he decided to play the risky pass to Thomas Owens, who was crowded out by the Newcastle defence before he could shoot.
Then, on the stroke of half time, Newcastle nearly added another, as another Stubbs throw forced a goal line scramble that Llyod was just unable to turn in.
Instead, Newcastle had to settle for a one goal halftime lead, although there would have been a feeling they should have been even further ahead.
Any frustrations Newcastle may have had over their narrow halftime lead were banished within minutes of the restart, as Morley doubled the lead.
Tommy van der Laan teed him up just outside the penalty area, and Morley made no mistake, hammering the ball into the top corner.
At 2-0 up, Newcastle looked to be in control of the match, but Prescot underlined their playoff aspirations by quickly roaring back.
First, minutes after Morley’s goal, a series of Prescot flick-ons created space for Sambor, who raced clear before firing past Newcastle keeper Joe Slinn.
Prescot were energised by the goal, but Newcastle had chances to restore their two-goal cushion.
First, good interplay between Morley and Lloyd allowed Lloyd top shoot, but he scuffed his shot.
Then Tommy van der Laan caught Allen off his line, but his shot from near halfway bounced well wide, before Lloyd clipped the outside of the post from the edge of the area.
Those missed chances proved costly, as Prescot equalised moments later, as Murphy found himself in space and smashed past Slinn.
Both Prescot goals had come somewhat against the run of play, and Newcastle were in danger of letting a game slip that they should have been comfortably leading.
However, Newcastle were still finding chances despite Prescot playing with a newfound vigour after their goals.
First, Lloyd broke and set up Mikey Conlon to shoot, but he fired his effort well over the bar.
Moments later Ryan Baxter almost caught Allen on the ball, before Morley’s deflected shot almost dipped into the goal, forcing Allen to tip it over the bar.
Minutes later, Newcastle were awarded a penalty after an attempted Prescot clearance unluckily caught an outstretched arm.
Jack van der Laan made no mistake from the spot, successfully sending Allen the wrong way to restore the hosts’ lead.
Morley then immediately attempted to kill the game off, but his chipped shot was blocked and gathered by Allen, before Sambor fired over the bar at the other end.
However, Newcastle’s attempts to see the game out were made unnecessarily difficult due to the efforts of Prescot substitute Declan Daniels.
First, his dangerous header fortuitously went over the bar, then a second in the same spot forced a Newcastle scramble before the flag went up for offside.
Then, in the final minutes Daniels had another shot blocked, before Prescot won a corner on the follow up.
Prescot won the initial header off that corner, which was fired goalward, only for it to rebound off Daniels’ head and wide.
That proved the last chance of the game, as Newcastle held on for a well-deserved and vital three points.
The win sees Newcastle rise to 13th in the league, level on points with 12th place Skelmersdale United.
However, Newcastle now face a tricky run of six games in three weeks, starting with visits to 1874 Northwich on Tuesday and Runcorn Linnets on Saturday.
They then face Macclesfield Town at home, Bootle and Witton Albion (both away), before welcoming Skelmersdale to round out a very busy February.