Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:
Walsall Wood marched on, on the road to Wembley. Now only five games away, but this pulsating encounter could have gone either way. Every player on the park could stake a legitimate claim for man of the match but like last season’s encounter, it was the away team keeper, this time Mario Kisiel, who gave his team the win with a string of superlative saves.
Wisbech Town 2 v 3 Walsall Wood
F.A. Vase Round 3.
The Fenmen started the better, Steven Reid firing a first time effort over on five minutes. They had the ball in the net four minutes later, Neal Spafford tapping in a right wing free kick at the far post but it was ruled out by an offside flag.
For Wood, Harry Harris fired a free kick over the left angle on 13 minutes after a foul on Corey Currithers. Three minutes later Scott Johnson won a ball wide left and released Matthew Lunn into the box, Lee Stretton saving Walsall Wood with a superbly timed tackle.
Kisiel’s first superb save came on 20 minutes, a ball over the top into the left of the Wood box was collected at pace by Danny Beaumont, who cut back inside and hit a low drive towards the far post, the keeper making a full length stop.
On 25 minutes a lovely chip by Harry Harris over a static home defence gave Joey Butlin the chance to race for goal, only for him to be tripped 25 yards out; he fired the free kick into the defensive wall and then fired the rebound inches wide. The 30 minute mark saw Beaumont collect a ball on the right of the box, cut back across the face but Shawn Boothe got a touch on the ball and Stretton completed the clearance.
The opening goal came on 36 minutes, Butlin won the ball in the centre and made ground before finding Harris, he played the ball to the right edge to pick out Ben Evans who came back into the centre and fired a drive into the right hand corner past the despairing dive of keeper Lea Jordan.
Both sides played some neat approach play but it was Wood who went in ahead at the break.
It only took the Fenmen four minutes of the second half to equalise, a foul in the centre of the D saw Billy Smith fire an inch perfect free kick into the top left hand corner. It was now a humdinger of a cup tie with both sides looking dangerous, on 65 minutes Currithers worked a classic 1-2 wide left with Andre Gonzales and raced into the box but a great tackle by Nathan Horne stopped him in his tracks, the defender picking up an injury that saw him leave the field. The reply was immediate, Johnson crossing from wide left, Reid racing in to power a header goalwards, Kisiel making an amazing one handed save to push the ball over the bar.
The threatened breakthrough came on 79 minutes. Tom Evans won a right wing free kick which Harris delivered to the far post, Currithers headed the ball down only for keeper Jordan to somehow keep the effort out. Max Black was first to react to force the ball over the line, but the lead lasted just two minutes. A right wing corner was delivered to the near post and was hit first time through a packed area, Kisiel pushing the ball away somehow, but only as far as Beaumont on the edge of the six yard box to boot home the second equaliser through a crowd of players.
A minute later Fraser Bayliss fired in a cross from the left, Stuart Cobb’s first time effort from 12 yards brilliantly saved by a full length Kisiel, the ball fell awkwardly for skipper Jon Fairweather who could only screw the ball wide.
With both sets of supporters relishing another 30 minutes of extra time, Currithers cut inside from the left, played the ball across the face of the box to Butlin, he held the ball up superbly, turned outside his marker and drilled an unstoppable shot into the bottom right hand corner to put Wood in dreamland and break Town hearts.
This was a brilliant encounter that could have gone either way, but revenge is sweet and it was the Wood supporters who went home happy. Kisiel was outstanding, last season the Wisbech Town keeper was the saviour, it was the away team keeper again the star in 2014.
Seven days rest for Walsall Wood then, before Loughborough University visit Oak Park next Saturday.
Next round of the FA Vase – Saturday January 17th – draw takes place 12 noon Monday December 8th.
My thanks to Bill for a great report – and for all those he selflessly writes and send to me after every match. They really are popular, and a credit to Bill and the club. Walsall Wood have a reputation for being a great, community spirited group of people and these reports demonstrate that – it’s an honour and joy to feature them here.
For the good of the Wood!