WIGAN Robin Park flew to the top of the first division table thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Abbey Hey at the Abbey Stadium on Saturday.
The early exchanges didn’t result in any clear-cut chances with both defences on top, before the deadlock was broken on 21 minutes when a free kick was conceded by Abbey 22 yards out.
Phil Howard lined up and struck a sweet daisy-cutter that just beat the outstretched hand of the Abbey keeper.
The Robins suffered a blow when left-back Adam Howard had to be substituted after a nasty challenge and was subsequently taken to hospital to be later diagnosed with ligament damage that will keep him out of action for up to three weeks.
The Abbey equaliser came seven minutes before half-time.
A long ball was flicked on to Martin Pilkington who beat his man, and after seeing his initial shot hit the boot of keeper Jay Foulds, he reacted first and beat Lee Crompton to fire into an empty net.
The Robins applied the pressure in the second half with Shaun Judge starting to control the game.
Phil Howard and Steve Edwards were causing all kind of problems for the Abbey defence who resorted in knocking long balls to stem the pressure.
The winner came with nine minutes to go.
A long ball out of the Robins defence was misjudged by an Abbey player, resulting in Phil Howard out-pacing his marker and calmly slotting the ball past the onrushing keeper.
Abbey weren’t finished and hit the crossbar in the dying minutes, before the referee blew his whistle to end the game and give the Robins a massive three points in their promotion push.
Manager John Neafcy said: “I knew Abbey would be no pushover and I would definitely have taken a point before kick-off.
“To come away with all three is a massive step in the right direction to where we want to be.
“The lads give 100 per cent and that’s all I can ask of them.”
The result puts the Robins two points above Abbey Hey with two games in hand over the Gorton-based side.
It was a great weekend for the Robins as their reserve team smashed Daisy Hill Reserves 6-0.
Ash Rimmer (3), Lewis Johnson (2) and Lee Harrison were the scorers for Wigan.
This keeps them at the top of the league table, two points ahead of Ashton Athletic Reserves, also with a couple of games in hand over their near neighbours.
Elsewhere in the North West Counties League, Ashton Athletic fell to a 3-1 top flight defeat at Winsford.
Dan Smith had opened the scoring for the local side.
Back in the first division, Ashton Town secured an excellent 3-2 derby win at Atherton Collieries.
On target were Lewis Coyle, who struck a neatly-taken double, and James Rushton-Woods.