Photos generously supplied by the young David Evans
An astounding win for Walsall Wood against Stoke City on Tuesday evening, that shocked even seasoned Wood fans – a great game played on home turf, which had been hotly anticipated – and the Woodmen didn’t let the fans down.
Bill Shaw, after a calming cup of tea or tow, submitted the following match report:
Another night of high drama and tension at Oak Park, everyone played their part, players and fans alike but it played havoc with my blood pressure. After again throwing the form book out of the window we move on to a semi-final tie away at Stafford Rangers, after last night it’s certainly not a home banker.
Aw come on, an old guy can dream can’t he, they can’t take that away from me. I’m over the moon.
Staffs Senior Cup Quarter-Final Played At Oak Park.
Stoke City 1 v 2 Walsall Wood
Another night of excitement and high drama as Wood came from a goal down after 12 minutes to heap more misery on the Potteries outfit. Even though this was the Under 21 side it was a thoroughly deserved win by a much changed Wood side from Saturday at Tipton.
Wood, with four players returning after lengthy injuries started tentatively and it was the Potters who dominated the opening minutes with some slick, neat interplay through midfield. It wasn’t until 12 minutes though that they seriously threatened the Wood goal, Ollie Roberts threading a ball into the left of the box that was collected at pace by Curtis Strong, Luke Adams saving Wood at the expense of a corner. The left wing flag kick was hit to the near post, Robbie Parry forcing the ball home to open the scoring. The Potters continued to weave intricate patterns as they came out of defence and into midfield, wide players Parry and Joel Taylor prominent, without unduly worrying the Wood back line, who worked hard at closing them down.
Then on 29 minutes a Wood right wing counter attack involving Adams and Tom Evans saw the ball played inside to Max Black to hit a first time low drive that was saved at full stretch by keeper Dale Eve.
The Potters continued to have probably 70% of the possession but continued to be thwarted by the resolute Wood defence, a quick ball out of defence on 38 minutes found Black in the centre circle his cheeky chip over the advancing defenders saw keeper Eve race from his box, Leon Taylor charged down the keeper’s attempted clearance, calmly picked up the loose ball and chased by a posse of defenders raced for goal and calmly slotted the ball into the empty net, 1-1.
The Potters finally broke through the Wood rearguard on 41 minutes, Roberts getting clear on the left, cutting into the box only for Mario Kisiel to make a brave full length save at his feet.
The second half continued as the first, but you could see the doubt creeping into the professionals minds, about how long could they keep up their tempo. It took until 54 minutes before they fashioned another opening, Nathan Rickertts-Hopkinson racing clear on the right pulling the ball back to Tomi Adeloye whose weak effort was easily saved by Kisiel. It was 68 minutes before they threatened again, once more Ricketts-Hopkinson cutting in from the left this time and playing the ball inside to Adeloye, Anthony Juxon saving Wood with a superbly timed tackle. Understandably both sides were becoming a little weary as we entered the last quarter of such a high tempo game and the next goal was of high importance. Both defences had been rock solid, then on 77 minutes Tom Evans and Drew Aiton combined wide right to win a corner, keeper Eve got in an unconvincing punch and the ball didn’t clear the area, Lee Stretton collected the loose ball and was looking to lay the ball off when he was brought down by a challenge from behind, the Referee seemed to wait an age before looking across to his assistant and then pointing to the spot. As Aiton put the ball on the spot the silence was deafening, you could almost touch the tension, the whistle blew, the keeper dived right and the penalty was slotted home to his left. Cue wild celebrations as the Wood faithful raised the roof, the players didn’t do too badly either.
Shell shocked Stoke tried to crank up the pressure but the heroes on the field stayed calm and more to the point continued to match the pace of the professionals. The only scare of note came on 82 minutes, a free kick by Charlie Ward on the right of the D shaving the outside of the left hand post. The injury time was unbelievably tense, but with yours truly leading the Wood faithful in. ‘We’re into Walsall Wood,’ we sang the boys home to a fantastic victory.
Only four players that started the game at Tipton were in the line-up as having a large squad was more than vindicated. Luke Adams, Lee Stretton and Daniel Holgate returned after long term injury, Steven Hayles, Tom Evans and Drew Aiton have only played a handful of games this season but together with Mario Kisiel (released by Stoke as a youngster because he wasn’t tall enough), Anthony Juxon, Max Black, Harry Harris and Leon Taylor, not forgetting late subs Corey Currithers and Joe Pickering, everyone was brilliant as Wood once again under Mark Swann and Jamie Hawkins recorded yet another famous Oak Park Victory.
Walsall Wood F.C.
Well done lads – you did Walsall Wood and all the fans proud. Onwards and upwards for the cup!
Thanks to Bill for the report, as ever. These longer format ones are much preferred by the readership, and Bill’s match write-ups are gaining more and more traffic with every one I post.
For The Good of the Wood!