DECLAN Walker struck deep into injury time to earn Warrington Rylands a priceless victory at neighbours Widnes.

The defender looped a header into the net in the 97th minute to secure all three points for Dave McNabb's men on the road at their neighbours.

The hosts had been reduced to 10 men as James McCulloch was dismissed for a second yellow card.

Blues remain in the NPL West Division play-off spots as all of the top five won on New Year's Day.

Warrington Guardian:

Declan Walker heads towards goal for Rylands' winner. Picture by Mark Percy

Watch Rylands boss Dave McNabb's post-match reaction here

Check out Garry Clarke's full match report here

IT was a late one but Declan Walker’s last-gasp goal deep into stoppage time got 2022 off to a winning start for Warrington Rylands.

With time running out, Rylands launched one last desperate attack on their hosts’ goal.

Debutant James Neild – recently signed from Trafford – played a hopeful long ball into a packed Widnes penalty area and Walker, the game’s outstanding player, leapt highest to loop his header over the Widnes goalkeeper’s head into the back of the net, sparking wild scenes of celebration on and off the pitch.

Warrington Guardian:

The celebrations begin following Walker's late winner. Picture by John Hopkins

Such a dramatic ending could not have been envisaged throughout the previously scrappy 96 minutes, although Rylands did have the ball in the Widnes net in the 28th minute but Andy Scarisbrick’s effort was disallowed for offside in the build-up.

The home side, struggling in the lower reaches of the NPL West table, almost caught their visitors cold in the 2nd minute when Stephen Rigby forced his way into the area and Rylands goalkeeper Graeme McCall did well to turn his shot around the post for a corner.

For the majority of the game, McCall was a virtual spectator, just collecting the occasional high ball played into his area and watching shots fly high or wide of his goal.

Warrington Guardian:

Graeme McCall punches clear. Picture by Mark Percy

The closest Widnes came to scoring was in the 71st minute when Jordan Barrow fired a shot into the side netting.

For Owen Wheeler at the other end it was a similar brief – apart from having to punch away a dangerous Walker corner in the opening exchanges, he was only required to catch a few crosses or corners.

Although never at their best against hosts whose whole game plan revolved around frustrating their opponents, Rylands dominated possession for large periods of the game but also struggled to find the target with numerous shots and headers.

Widnes were reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute when referee Anthony Ball dismissed their captain James McCulloch for a second bookable offence when he felled Matty Hughes on the edge of the area.

Warrington Guardian:

Widnes captain James McCulloch (number six) is sent off. Picture by John Hopkins

With seven minutes of stoppage time, mostly accrued due to the home side’s time wasting, played there was barely time for Widnes to re-start the game after Walker’s dramatic intervention before the referee’s final whistle brought to an end Warrington Rylands’ first game of 2022.