Images and captions by David Evans.
Last Saturday, (3rd October 2015), Walsall Wood faced another tough match, this time away to Heanor – and they came home with a respectable draw.
Bill Shaw kindly submitted the following report:
If Wood had played like this on Tuesday night the result wouldn’t have been much different. Heanor remember (albeit down to 10 men for 50 minutes) were hammered 7-2 by Hereford, John Mills with another hat trick. But guess what, this was supposed to be one of the most hostile football grounds in the country, but everyone associated with the club couldn’t have been more friendly, it was a pleasure to visit there. Both teams were warmly applauded from the pitch, as once again in this topsy-turvy Midland League season football again came out the winner. Neither side is paying out the £1,000 plus a week of at least 10 sides in the division, but that doesn’t stop either side turning in exhilarating, entertaining football in most games. Without the ridiculous money being paid out to more than a few, the Midland League Premier Division would be almost a 12 horse race, but even with all the money flying you can’t crown the champions yet with seven clubs realistically in contention after almost a quarter of the season – you aren’t looking beyond Heanor, Hereford, Alvechurch, Long Eaton, Highgate, Stourport Swifts and last but not least Rowey’s Sporting Khalsa.
I’ll tell you what though, there are more than a few sides in the bottom half of the table capable of causing real major upsets, so take nothing for granted all you moneybags clubs, there will always be somebody out there to get you.
Heanor Town 2 v 2 Walsall Wood
Heanor moved to the top courtesy of this point, still with a game in hand on Hereford, but it was Wood playing with a passion that restored pride in the team who almost turned the form book upside down by scoring first and last.
The Lions started well pinning Wood in their own half. On two minutes Jay Cooper intercepted a crossfield pass, ran on before playing the ball into the path of Daniel Booth to hit a first time low drive that was taken at full stretch by keeper Lee Evans. Six minutes later Joe Naylor ran at the Wood defence, releasing Andre Johnson into the centre of the box, under pressure from two chasing defenders his low drive was well held by Evans. Then on 15 minutes Johnson raced clear wide right, cut inside, his vicious cross just under the bar touched over by Evans. The resulting corner was again dropped under the bar, Evans touching the ball beyond the far post.
A minute later Wood shook the Lions by going ahead, Joey Butlin nodding down a left wing free kick for Dan Griffiths, his first time effort bounced down off the bar and he pounced to bury the rebound into the roof of the net.
The lead lasted just four minutes, a flowing move down the inside right channel, the Lions seemed to lose the ball but Johnson charged down an attempted clearance on the right of the box and although Evans got both hands to the near post low drive he couldn’t stop the ball crossing the line.
On 26 minutes a long ball forward into the right of the box was won by Butlin, his cross shot was deflected to the far post inches in front of the late arriving Corey Currithers. Then on 40 minutes Tom Hurdman crossed from wide left, Griffiths saw his header partially stopped by keeper Scott Whittingham, as the ball rolled towards the net skipper Nick Hall cleared the ball off the line.
Three minutes later a clever move into the right of the Wood box saw Johnson fire in a near post drive that Evans standing tall pushed round the post. From the corner Cooper climbed highest to plant a header just over the far angle. With people going for their half time cuppa, Cooper raced clear wide right, crossed to the far post, substitute Daniel Claridge heading back across the keeper and into the net to put the hosts ahead.
The first action of the second half saw Drew Aiton on the end of an intricate right wing move, his low near post cross put behind by Booth to deny the hard working Butlin. Two corners followed in quick succession from the right, from the second Butlin’s far post header back across goal beat the keeper but the defender on the line headed the ball clear. Wood were nearly caught out by a quick counter attack three minutes later, a long clearance out of defence was collected at pace by Nathan Benger, he ran on and found Cooper to his right, he raced into the right of the box but fired a low cross shot wide of the advancing Evans and the goal. Two minutes later Greg Marriott charged down the right, his far post cross knocked back to Johnson to fire a first time effort inches too high. On 65 minutes from a clever near post right wing corner Marriott glanced a header just over the far angle.
Then on 75 minutes a clever left wing move saw Butlin collect a ball inside, before his slide rule through ball released Griffiths into the left of the box, he was calmness personified as he buried a cross shot into the right corner of the net past the stranded Whittingham.
With both sides looking to have settled for a point apiece a right wing free kick for the home side on 88 minutes was collected beyond the far post by Hall, he quickly played the ball back across the face of the box, it was touched back by Cooper to dangerman Johnson to fire a first time effort high and wide. If he’d scored that would have been a travesty of justice.
Both sides were warmly applauded off the pitch at the end, neither side is going to win the title, but you know what, they will entertain many people with their football, do we really want to see landslide victories or even to be bored to death, give me games like this one any day..
Well everyone, another great advert for Midland League Premier Football.
Walsall Wood are a good team and an excellent, community-spirited club. They need our support – please do attend their games if you can.
As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!