Yesterday, Walsall Wood FC and the faithful took a trip into the wilds of Shropshire for a hard fought win against Oswestry Town in a game that pleased Bill Shaw.
Sadly, the Evans boys were otherwise engaged, but Bill sent the following match report:
Wood struggled in the first half to make inroads into a well organised home defence. A long delay when keeper Dale Faultless was injured on 70 minutes seemed to calm the nerves, stand in keeper Joey Butlin kept a clean sheet for 50 minutes in total. When Drew Aiton equalised very late, Oswestry heads dropped and there was only going to be one winner from then on, as the tie went into extra time.
Harry Harris with yet another classic strike put us ahead for the first time nine minutes into the first half of extra time before with four minutes to go coach Leon Taylor made sure it was Wood who progressed to the next round.
A performance of character to grind out a deserved win in the end, but make no mistake it was hard work at times.
F.A. Cup 1st Qualifying Round
Oswestry Town 1 v 3 Walsall Wood (A.E.T.)
A goal down to a controversial effort on 24 minutes Wood came roaring back after the break but couldn’t find the all important goal. When they lost Dale Faultless to a reckless challenge on 70 minutes and Joey Butlin took over in goal it looked bleak, but two minutes from time a superb 25 yard free kick by Drew Aiton took the tie into extra time and with Wood now rampant there was only going to be one winner.
After three minutes Shawn Melusi intercepted a ball on halfway and raced into the box through a static defence to fire inches over the bar. Wood were finding it difficult to come to terms with the 3g surface and on 20 minutes a poor defensive clearance was collected by Olly Jones who instantly found Jack Harris, he turned and fired over the right angle. Four minutes later Town went ahead in controversial fashion, Melusi cutting inside from wide right, he made the box but was half stopped by Shawn Boothe and Ben Birch, Melusi was first to the loose ball but appeared to pull Boothe back, he was allowed to run on and clip the ball over keeper Dale Faultless. Three minutes later an intricate move into the centre saw Harris put in on goal but he was dispossessed by a superb challenge from Craig Deakin.
On 28 minutes Wood had their first effort on goal, Luke Adams crossed from wide on the right to the near post, Corey Currithers getting in a header that was comfortably saved by keeper Connor Tinsley. On 38 minutes Aiton collected a ball wide right, cut inside and fired in a low drive that brought a full length save from Tinsley. The last action of the first half saw Aiton power into the left of the box and go down under a clumsy challenge, Deakin collected the loose ball and appeared to be upended but loud penalty appeals were waved away, much to Wood’s disgust.
Wood came roaring out of the blocks at the start of the second half with Aiton firing just wide, Lewis Taylor Boyce then fired over the bar before on 49 minutes Currithers collected a ball from the home box 25 yards out, Tinsley was on the penalty spot but the ball was calmly lobbed over him, Brendan Price heading off the line to keep the home side ahead.
Having lived dangerously the home side played the ball neatly down the left, Harris racing onto a ball into the box, his low drive bringing a top drawer save from Faultless.
Wood kept up the pressure but couldn’t find the all important equaliser. Then on 70 minutes keeper Faultless was caught by a late challenge and after lengthy treatment was replaced by striker Joey Butlin. Wood still took the game to the home side. Currithers heading just wide on 74 minutes, then 4 minutes later Boothe was inches away from a full length diving header. On 85 minutes Deakin crossed from wide left, Price just getting a touch on the ball to deny Taylor Boyce. Three minutes later a high ball forward was well controlled by Aiton on the left, he cleverly played the ball inside to Taylor Boyce who turned inside and was brought down. Aiton broke Town hearts by hitting a superb free kick into the top right hand corner. The shell shocked home side held out to take the game into extra time.
Nine minutes into the first period, Currithers collected the ball from a left wing throw, played a lovely ball across the face of the box to find skipper Harry Harris who put Wood ahead with a clinical low drive.
On 22 minutes Jack Harris ran onto a ball in the centre of the box his first time shot well held by Butlin. It was all over four minutes later when Taylor Boyce made the byeline wide left, powered inside, crossed into the six yard box for Leon Taylor to force the ball home.
Town put Wood under pressure late on, Callum Graybrook’s shot blocked by Joe Haines.
Three intriguing home games now for Wood, leaders Westfields on Tuesday night before Alvechurch visit on Saturday. Then its Pegasus Juniors visiting in the next round of the Vase on Saturday 24th.
Oswestry Town – Tinsley, Howes, Price, Jones, Shone, Morris, Melusi, Jarman, Harris (captain), Lewis, Litchfield, Graybrook, Mondiwa, Graham, Stevens, Austin.
Walsall Wood – Faultless, Adams, Deakin, Boothe, Birch, Parsons, Taylor Boyce, H. Harris (captain) Edwards, Aiton, Currithers, Hayles, Haines, Taylor, Beckett, Butlin.
Thanks to Bill for another straight-talking match report, and onwards and upwards for the Woodmen.
For the good of the wood!