On Air Saturday Live Paul Moran | 3:00pm - 5:00pm

FC Isle of Man battle to earn draw at Northwich Victoria

Photo Credit: Gary Weightman/Vannin Photos

Ste Whitley header and Kearns goalkeeping heroics secure vital point

A pinpoint Ste Whitley header and some masterful goalkeeping from Dean Kearns helped FC Isle of Man battle to a 1-1 draw at promotion-chasing Northwich Victoria in the NWCFL Premier Division today (12 March).

The Ravens had Kearns to thank in the first half for a crucial penalty save in the 19th minute during a first 45 where Northwich Victoria also had two goals ruled out by the linesman.

The Manx side then stunned the hosts 57 minutes in as Ste Whitley guided home an accurate header from a Jacob Crook cross before Northwich struck back ten minutes later through Ryan Jackson’s close range strike.

The result gives FC Isle of Man more important breathing space from the relegation zone with their gap to the nearest side of the bottom two below them now increased to ten points.

The contest at Wincham Park took time to get going, but the first major chance went the way of Northwich Victoria 19 minutes in when Luke Sephton was clattered by FC Isle of Man goalkeeper, Dean Kearns, in the Ravens penalty area.

However, Kearns made amends moments later as, from the resulting spot-kick, he dived low to his right to palm away a tame effort from Northwich man Ryan Jackson.

This seemed to spark the Island side into more life as they began to get themselves onto the ball more, but their goal lived a charmed life in the final moments of the first period.

A deflected effort in the 45th minute saw the ball end up in the back off the FC Isle of Man net, only to be ruled out by the linesman, before Northwich Victoria striker, Matt Dudley’s cool low finish in the first minute of first-half stoppage time was also chalked off for offside.

After a goalless first half, it was FC Isle of Man who came close to opening the scoring in the 51st minute when a Ravens corner was met by Karl Clark who saw his header strike against the ‘Vics’ crossbar.

Just six minutes later, the visitors then took the lead as a lofted ball from Jacob Crook out on the left found Ste Whitley at the back post who guided a looping header over Northwich stopper, Ryan Hamer, and into the net.

Northwich responded well and a superb flying stop from Kearns denied a vicious Kuda Chingwaro volley on 62 minutes, before the home side then got a deserved equaliser five minutes later.

After a scramble in the FC Isle of Man penalty area the ball fell to Jackson who got redemption for his earlier penalty miss by slamming a low effort past Kearns for 1-1.

In an intense but at times scrappy remaining 20 minutes both sides eagerly pushed for a decisive second but little was done to test Kearns or Hamer in either goalmouth as both sides ultimately had to settle for a point each.

The draw means FC Isle of Man move ten points clear of the relegation zone onto 36 points with 35 games now played.

The Ravens next league outing will be at home against Longridge Town on Saturday, 18 March, kicking-off at 6pm.

More from Isle of Man Sport