With the commencement of the 2015/16 season and his return to good health, I’m happy to welcome back regular match reports from top Walsall Wood footy correspondent Bill Shaw here on the Brownhills Blog.
Tuesday evening (11th August 2015) saw Walsall Wood travel to Solihull’s Highgate United at their The Barn Lane ground, where sadly, the Woodmen lost. It’s fair to say Bill Shaw was not amused.
I know many of you lot love the match reports and news from Oak Park, and it’s great to be able to share them: I thank Bill Shaw profusely – he’s a top bloke.
A defeat at one of my least favourite venues, throw in two goals from Lei Brown and my night was completely ruined. There aren’t many more hostile environments in football on a Tuesday evening, but then again it isn’t much better on a Saturday as Hereford will find out this weekend.
We allowed ourselves to be roughed out of it in a disappointing first half, but came back strongly and deserved at least a share of the spoils.
FA Cup action on Saturday away to Hinckley, replay if needed Tuesday night at Oak Park, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Highgate United 2 v 1 Walsall Wood.
Wood came away from Tythe Barn Lane pointless yet again and totally browned off in the process, as Lei Brown continued to be their nemesis, as his brace made it seven goals in three games against hem, as the rustic triumphed again, but then it’s difficult to play football on a pitch that was only missing the sheep.
Wood started brightly, after just four minutes Leon Taylor played a neat one-two through the centre with Joey Butlin, raced into the box, keeper Bradley Catlow saving bravely at his feet, before giving notice of United’s plan of action by launching a howitzer kick downfield looking for the head of Shane Benjamin, Nathan Edginton or Lei Brown. It was Wood who threatened again 2 minutes later, Butlin winning the ball on halfway before putting debutant Chad Degville-Cross clear wide right, his low cross put behind for a corner that was easily cleared.
On 20 minutes yet another long ball forward was cleverly flicked on to his right by Edginton into the path of Brown, his low drive bringing a full length save from keeper Mario Kisiel. Three minutes later Brown latched onto a ball over the top, raced into the right of the box only to fire well wide. Edginton powered inside from wide left on 31 minutes and was fouled on the edge of the box. Kisiel saving comfortably from Benjamin’s free kick. Two minutes later Benjamin planted a header just wide from a right wing cross from Tom Lacey.
Steven Hayles right wing run on 37 minutes ended with a cross to the far post, Butlin lost his marker and his header back across the keeper was deflected just the wrong side of the post.
On 40 minutes Edginton hit a left wing cross beyond the far post, Brown’s first time volley pushed away by Kisiel but straight back to Brown whose acrobatic attempt was well wide. A minute later it was Brown who broke the deadlock; a right wing free kick was delivered to the near post, his glancing header looping into the far corner of the net.
Within two minutes Wood nearly equalised, from a left wing free kick a poor clearance only went to Louis Harris 20 yards out, his low drive through a crowded area well saved by Catlow.
At the start of the second half Wood were closing down the route one supply avenue by defending in the opposition half. On 51 minutes a surging run out of defence by Grant Beckett saw his ball inside find Butlin who was flattened on the right edge of the box and for the second game in succession the decision was a free kick, outside not a penalty, much to the striker’s disgust. He took the free kick himself and just cleared the bar.
Disaster for Wood on 62 minutes, a rare piece of neat, short passing football ended with Tyrone Smith racing onto a ball left of the box, only to go down under an untidy, mistimed challenge. No doubt it was a penalty and up stepped Brown to send Kisiel the wrong way, making it seven goals in four hours two minutes against Wood in the process.
Wood, rather than capitulating came roaring back, putting the home defence under pressure, on 70 minutes Butlin chased a lost cause on the right byeline, mugged Nathan Pulisciano near the corner flag before laying the ball back into the path of Charlton Davies to fire a rising drive just too high. Wood were back in it, when two minutes later Toumani Sidibe won a left wing corner, Josh O’Garra opening his Wood account with a powerful header from the flag kick. Three minutes later Sidibe was involved again with Beckett wide left as they opened up the home defence after a throw in, the ball inside found Butlin whose first time low drive brought a full length save from Catlow.
On 80 minutes Brown raced onto a long ball into the left of the box, crossed to the near post, Danny Lennon seeing his header pushed away by the diving Kisiel.
Wood were bullied and intimidated in the first half as they struggled to cope with the aerial bombardment, they shut down the supply route in the second half and deserved to come away with at least a point from a much improved second half display that had United grateful to hear the final whistle.
The Hereford bubble was quickly burst as they lost 2-0 to last season’s 10th place finishers Stourport Swifts, welcome to the reality of the Midland League Prem guys.
For Wood, It’s FA Cup action on Saturday with a visit to Heather to take on another fallen giant Hinckley, no easy task.
Walsall Wood FC
Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side with a big-hearted faithful who know how to have a great time supporting their lads, and welcome all comers to come enjoy great local soccer. The boys from The Wood have been at the heart of the local community for a century or more, so please do go check out a match or two if you’re curious.
I guarantee you’ll have more fun cheering on the local chaps than you ever will watching the over-priced prima donnas on TV…
For the good of The Wood!