Images kindly supplied by Simon Evans
It was a big match in prospect last Tuesday (9th May 2016) – Walsall Wood played leaders Hereford, and despite the fact that the Woodmen battled well with an early upset, they couldn’t push through for the win.
Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:
We came oh so close to turning the form book on its head, another goal in that first 30 minutes would have changed the
whole complexion of the game.
The lads did the Wood proud, let’s face it, it’s no disgrace losing to the Champions and we wish them all the best in the FA Vase final at Wembley on Saturday 22nd May as they try for four trophies this season.
As for the Wood, it may not be the last game of their season, hopefully we’ll know on Friday morning and you’ll be the first to know of any developments.
Polymac Packaging League Cup Final.
Walsall Wood 1 v 3 Hereford.
Wood were the better side for the first 30 minutes and were well worth their early lead. Wood had settled first on a surface made difficult by torrential rain prior to kick off but Hereford once they had equalised on 36 minutes went ahead a minute before the break and from that moment contained Wood, scoring the killer goal in the 87th minute.
Wood started confidently putting the Champions under pressure from the off, in just the third minute Joey Butlin chased a ball left of the box that held up on the drenched surface, his cross taken off the head of Max Black by keeper Harvey Rivers. A minute later it was Black who panicked Rivers and a defender into a mistake that resulted in a left wing corner. Louis Harris ghosting in at the far post only to head the ball into the grateful arms of Rivers.
The Bulls first real attack came on 14 minutes, Mike (The Beast) Symons powering his way into the box along the right byeline, crossing low into the box for John Mills to hit a first time short range drive that brought a superb reflex save from Wood keeper Adam Jenkins.
Wood went ahead on 19 minutes, a right wing free kick was delivered to the near post for Harris to nip between two defenders to fire home.
Everything the Bulls now did seemed to go through Symons and on 26 minutes he collected a ball out of defence wide on the right, bullied his way inside through three tackles and fed Dylan Bonella left of centre to run at the Wood defence, before releasing Ross Staley into the left of the box to hit a first time rising drive that was deflected over for a corner, that was easily cleared.
Two minutes later Black was brought down 35 yards out in a central position, Butlin sending the low driven free kick whistling inches wide of the left hand post. Four minutes later it was Lewis Taylor Boyce winning the ball in the centre circle before feeding Butlin who took one touch and from 35 yards hit a rising drive into the top left hand corner that was pushed around the post by a stunning save from Rivers.
The let off stung the Bulls into action, on 35 minutes from a left wing free kick a scramble developed in the Wood box, John Mills poking the ball inches wide of the left hand post. A minute later a ball inside from wide right by Joe Tomelty was collected at pace by Symons who muscled his way through two tackles before scoring the equaliser with a delightful chip over the advancing Jenkins. It was all Hereford now but Wood looked to have weathered the storm until with a minute to go to the break Ross Staley won the ball left of centre and raced for goal, his low drive from just inside the left of the box picking up pace off the slick surface and flying into the bottom right hand corner. He nearly made it three a minute later when from a left wing free kick the ball into the box bounced up and he powered in a close range header that Jenkins somehow pushed round the post.
It was 10 minutes into the second half before the game came back to life, Craig Deakin broke up a Bulls attack and raced through the centre, played a quick-fire one-two with Butlin then feeding Corey Currithers on the left of the box to hit to fire a first time effort high over the far angle.
Five minutes later a neat left wing corner move found Staley in space, he laid the ball back into the path of Jimmy Oates to hit a first time rising drive that was touched over by Jenkins.
On 62 minutes Taylor Boyce attacked wide right, his low cross found Black in the centre of the box, he twisted and turned before firing in a low drive that was taken at full stretch by Rivers.
Mills collected a long clearance on 69 minutes, raced into the left of the box, turned back inside his marker and uncharacteristically fired his effort high over.
A forceful right wing run and low cross by Deakin on 76 minutes saw Rivers cutting out the ball at the feet of Butlin.
Five minutes later substitute Mustapha Bundu collected a long clearance, raced through three challenges as he made the left of the box, his low drive superbly saved by Jenkins.
Wood, still trying, won a left wing corner on 84 minutes, the ball half cleared to Taylor Boyce to fire a rising drive high and wide.
Three minutes later it was all over, Staley combining wide left with Oates who crossed to beyond the far post, Bundu giving Jenkins no chance. Then on the stroke of full time Symons powered into the Wood box swung his hips to dispose of his marker, his low drive bringing another superb full length save from Jenkins.
Both sides adapted well to the treacherous conditions to serve up a pulsating final that if wood had gone two up could have had a different ending. For the Bulls it’s three out of four trophies won, only Wembley and the FA Vase left. For Wood it’s what might have been, but whatever, the game was a great advert for the Midland Football League.
Walsall Wood: Jenkins, Deakin, Hayles, Beckett (c), Wright, Black Taylor Boyce, Juxon, Butlin, L. Harris, Currithers, Adams, Ricketts, Roberts Evans, Jackson.
Hereford: Rivers, Kontic-Coveney, Oates, Bonella, Willetts, Summers, Tomelty, Birch, Mills, Staley, Symons, Laird, Purdie, Robbins, Haysham, Bundu.
Bad luck lads. My commiserations, but you fought hard and did Walsall Wood proud.
Thanks to Bill for the report, as ever.It’s a joy and an honour to publish them here.
For The Good of the Wood!