Last Thursday evening (14th April 2016), Walsall Wood FC were away to face Lye Town at Stourbridge Road – and the Woodmen took home a very respectable draw.
Bill Shaw was there to catch the action…
It would appear Saturday was just a blip, because it was the real Wood that turned up at Lye and came away with a two-all draw from another cracking game.
The result was even more creditable when you take into consideration the fat that Woods two leading scorers were side lined because of injury and next in line Drew Aiton didn’t even make the game.
It’s now seven matches in 15 days for Wood as the season reached its climax. Long Eaton away on Saturday 16th followed on Tuesday by the Walsall Senior Cup Semi-final at Lichfield City. It’s top six contenders Heanor Town at the Wood on Thursday 21st followed on Saturday 23rd by the visit of yet another top six contender with Highgate United the visitors. This game incidentally KICKS OFF AT 1.00 pm. The game away at Stourport Swifts has been brought forward to MONDAY 25th, Thursday 28th sees the second leg of the semi-final with Lye Town at the Wood with Continental Star bringing the League season to a close for Wood as the close neighbours bow out of level five football after four years.
Hopefully there will be two cup finals in May, one against either Hereford or Stourport the other Rushall Olympic or Sporting Khalsa.
Polymac Packaging Lge. Cup Semi-Final First Leg.
Lye Town 2 V 2 Walsall Wood.
It’s all square going into the second leg on Thursday 28th at the Wood but it’s them who hold all the aces after this superb advert once again for Level Five football. Wood missing their 3 leading scorers because of injury came from behind at the break to take the lead for just 37 seconds in an amazing five minutes spell between the 72nd and the 77th minutes.
Early Lye pressure brought no reward and it was Wood with the first shot at goal on four minutes, Louis Harris firing a snap shot just over. Then on 11 minutes Wood penned the home side back in their half, Steven Hayles crossing from wide left to pick out his opposite full back Craig Deakin to hit a low drive that was saved low to his left by keeper Jake Bedford.
Two minutes later Callum McFarlane broke up a Wood attack to power forward left of centre, his low cross into the centre of the box was volleyed well wide by Ryan Rowe. Four minutes later a long high ball forward bounced in the D, Wood keeper Adam Jenkins raced from his line but Ben Billingham was first to the ball to head goalwards over the keeper, Steven Hayles calmly collecting the ball in the 6 yard box before clearing downfield. 24 minutes gone, Billingham delivered a central free kick into the Wood box, Ben Wilkins beat the keeper with a header only for Deakin to clear off the line. The ball was quickly played forward by the Wood, Corey Currithers racing onto a through ball from Louis Harris into the left of the box, his low near post drive bringing a full length save from Bedford.
The breakthrough came on 30 minutes, Wilkins crossing from the left to find Billingham, who calmly sidestepped his marker before turning and drilling a low drive into the bottom right hand corner. Three minutes later Billingham delivered a right wing free kick into the centre of the Wood box, Jenkins punched the ball out straight to Alex Dallison, his header back into the danger area this time punched clear by Jenkins.
Wood attacked immediately down the right, Harry Harris finding Lewis Taylor Boyce whose clever ball inside was collected by Ben Evans who fired in a low drive that was well saved.
A lovely flowing move through the centre on 37 minutes put Sam Tye clear, Hayles saving Wood with a superbly timed challenge. Five minutes later Matt Johnson fired in a right wing free kick that dropped perfectly for Billingham only for him to fire a first time effort high and wide. A minute later from a left wing free kick Wood lived a little dangerously. Jenkins making two important close range saves before Tye fired a cross shot well wide.
It was an exciting start to the second half with both sides attacking but it was Lye who nearly made it two when on 52 minutes McFarlane broke up a Wood attack, raced 50 yards before feeding Billingham to race into the left of the box and hit a cross shot just wide.. Wood were stretched at this point but kept the game tight, but a superb one touch move involving Wilkins, Billingham and Rowe left of centre was snuffed out by Hayles who came away with the ball and put Currithers in on goal, only for him to be crowded out. A minute later a left wing free kick found Tye, his first time low drive well held by Jenkins at full stretch.
The game burst into goalscoring life on 72 minutes, Hayles and Louis Harris combining wide left to deliver the ball into the centre of the box, Currithers holding the ball up cleverly before laying it back into the path of Harrys Harris to fire in a searing low drive to equalise.
The goal stunned Town but a left wing move 2 minutes later saw Wilkins cross to the far post to pick out substitute Kalum Evitts his low drive partially stopped by Grant Beckett giving Jenkins an easy save.
Wood then silenced the home crowd, a long ball forward saw Bedford come to the edge of his area to collect but under pressure from Currithers dropped the ball, the striker hurdling the keeper to collect the loose ball before gleefully putting Wood ahead for the first time.
The lead lasted just 37 seconds, an attack through the centre ending with the ball played out to substitute Nicky Pugh who took one touch before curling a cracker into the far top corner. To coin a phrase, two keepers wouldn’t have saved it.
With the scores tied neither side really knew whether to go for the winner or not, so the last 15 minutes was played in midfield.
Wood worked hard for the draw, the two No. 10’s, Benn Billingham and Louis Harris (ironically both on loan from Stourbridge) dictated proceedings, but everyone turned in a hardworking display that kept everyone entertained until the final whistle, making the second leg on Thursday 28th a must see contest for a chance to meet either Stourport Swifts or Hereford on Tuesday 10th May at Solihull Moors ground in the final.
Lye Town: Bedford, Johnson, McFarlane, Meacham, Dallison, Williams, Tye, Gennard, Rowe, Billingham (c), Wilkins, Bala, Evitts, Guy, Pugh, Price.
Walsall Wood: Jenkins, Deakin, Hayles, Beckett, Wright, Juxon, Taylor Boyce, H. Harris (c), Currithers, L. Harris, Evans, Butlin, Ricketts, Black, Jackson, Griffiths.
My thanks to Bill for a great report – it’s so good to have you back old chap.
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!