All pictures and captions, including impromptu ornithology, kindly supplied by David ‘Very Bill Oddie’ Evans.
Walsall Wood made good progress in their steady recovery to form yesterday (19th November 2016) by beating Stourpourt Swifts in a hard fought match at Oak Park.
Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:
A second win on the bounce as we move back into the right half of the table. This was a hard-working performance from both sides with us just shading it, for once winning ugly, a trait we haven’t been very good at in the past.
Lowly Shawbury United are next Saturday’s visitors as we look for our first double of the season – back to a 3:00 pm kick off for this one.
Walsall Wood 1 v 0 Stourport Swifts
Wood had to work hard for the three points but after Drew Aiton had given them the lead in the 64th minute from the penalty spot Swifts struggled for a spell until Wood went down to 10 men. That set up a grandstand finish with keeper Sam Arnold unbeatable.
After a quiet opening it was Swifts who threatened first when on six minutes Joe Phillips raced onto a ball into the left of the box, went across the face and hit a rising drive inches over.
On 13 minutes Joey Butlin held the ball up before laying it into the path of Nick Wright to hit a 20 yard first time effort just too high.
Four minutes later Alex Perry was put clear wide right, his clever ball inside set up Michael Turner, Wright taking the ball away as he prepared to shoot.
A back pass into the left of Swifts box was inexplicably picked up by keeper Lewis Gwilliam, Harry Harris fired the resulting free kick low into the near post, the ball blocked on the line.
Swifts reply on 29 minutes saw Perry get away wide right and cut inside, his vicious low cross superbly cut out by Shawn Boothe at full stretch. Four minutes later Phillips capitalised on a misplaced clearance wide left, he raced across the face of the box but mis-hit his low drive and keeper Sam Arnold made a comfortable save. It was Phillips involved again on 25 minutes, cutting in from wide left into the box before setting up Reece Wager, his first time drive saved at full stretch by Arnold.
The first goalmouth action in the second half came on 53 minutes, Harry Harris delivered a free kick from wide left to beyond the far post, Craig Deakin ghosting in to fire a first time low drive across the face of the goal. Eight minutes later Wright collected the ball on halfway and went for goal left of centre, he played the ball right to pick out substitute Drew Aiton whose first time low drive was deflected the wrong side of the post. On 64 minutes Harris released Wright into the left of the box, he went down under a heavy challenge and the referee gave a penalty. Leading scorer Aiton making no mistake from the spot. Butlin then picked up a yellow card, immediately picked up another and went for an early bath. On 76 minutes Ben Birch played the ball up to Aiton, he took the ball in his stride and his rising drive was touched over by Gwilliam.
Swifts camped in the Wood half for the closing minutes, keeper Arnold making a string of brave saves as the tiring 10 men held out for an ugly victory.
Never a classic but Wood have made a habit of losing this type of game, but if you keep a clean sheet and score you take the points, not pretty, but effective.
Shawbury United the visitors to the Wood next Saturday, as Wood look to continue their climb back up the table.
Walsall Wood – Arnold, Deakin, Beckett, Boothe, Birch, Juxon, Steane, Harris (captain), Butlin, Wright, Manase, Mansell, Aiton, Martin, Edwards.
Stourport Swifts – Gwilliam, Hanson, Wager, Robinson, Fulloway, Hurrell, Perry, Beasley (captain), Lloyd, Turner, Phillips, Beaumont, Bailey, Hudson.
As ever, thanks to Bill for the report – always appreciated – for The Good of the Wood!