Turmoil at Oak Park as Shawbury hammer faltering Wood

Images and captions kindly supplied by David Evans.

Sadly grim times down at Oak Park yesterday afternoon (Saturday 26th November 2016), as an afternoon seeing the unexpected defeat of the Woodmen concluded with the immediate resignation of long time and much respected manger, Mark Swann.

Walsall Wood Football Club issued the following statement on Facebook:

Official Statement from the Chairman of Walsall Wood Football Club

It with a heavy heart that today we have accepted the resignation of the first team manager Mark Swann

He has not only helped the club on the field but also off the field and without him this club would not be where it is today. He has made Walsall Wood a more stable and structured club and we thank him for this.

Whatever Mark’s next move is we wish him well and support him as he will always be one of our own.

We have appointed Harry Harris, Grant Beckett and Leon Taylor to look after first team affairs until the club decide the next steps to ensure the growth and stability of the club.

Justin Hodgin
(Chairman on behalf of Walsall Wood FC)

Obviously I’m shocked to see this and wish Mark all the best, and hope Walsall Wood make a swift recovery to form. I’ll bring you more news as I have it, but the faithful are clearly reeling at the moment.

Bill Shaw witnessed the defeat, and didn’t beat around the bush in his report:

Hiya Bob,

The mini-revival came to a shuddering halt as we started well and were well worth our lead, but then went into our shell and were taken apart by the lowly visitors. Virtually everything that could go wrong after that, did, as Shawbury ran riot. More injuries didn’t help matters as Tuesday night’s visit to AFC Wulfrunians in the League Cup looks like being another nightmare selection for Swanny.

Next Saturday sees us away at Loughborough University.

Walsall Wood 2 v 5 Shawbury United.

This was no freak result; it was one of the worst Wood performances I have had the misfortune to cover. Without recognised full backs because of injury and suspension Wood were taken apart by a side occupying second bottom spot at kick off.

Wood put the visitors under early pressure and it was no surprise when on 4 minutes Josh Mansell chased a ball into the right corner, winning a flag kick.  The corner was taken quickly by Joey Butlin, short to Harry Harris to deliver to the far post, Anthony Juxon powering a header home. On 10 minutes from the second of two corners Drew Aiton fired first time just over. On 23 minutes a central free kick by Harris was played short to Butlin who played the ball back to Harris whose rising drive was deflected over by James Askey.

Wood switched off at this point and three minutes later a lovely ball over the top by Liam Taylor put Nathan Hodge clear on the edge of the box, he flicked the ball over advancing keeper Sam Arnold, managing to collect the ball and fire well wide of an empty net. Three minutes later Taylor raced forward wide left, his cross found Josh Thomas on the edge of the six yard box, he made space for a shot and fired wide of the near post. 33 minutes a ball forward put Hodge into the left of the box, he cut inside, was half stopped by Juxon and Shawn Boothe completed the job. Three minutes later from a right wing move Liam Armstrong released Charlie Knowles into the right of the box and he fired home the equaliser.

Wood momentarily woke up on 40 minutes, Aiton getting into the right of the box, keeper Ian Havard pushing away two efforts, Aiton seeing a third effort deflected inches wide.

On 45 minutes a move through the centre saw the ball played into the left of the box to Taylor who put the visitors ahead with a crisp, low cross shot.

Two minutes into the second half a ball over the top saw Arnold race from his area to fly kick clear from Hodge, the ball only found Thomas who from 35 yards fired wide of the empty  net.  On 52 minutes Hodge collected a ball into the left of the box, cut inside and beat Arnold at the near post with a low drive.  A minute later Hodge again got away into the left of the box, laid the ball back into the path of Taylor, his first time rising drive finger-tipped onto the bar by Arnold.  A minute later Stuart Ellis was found on the left of the box, he went across the box through 3 challenges and was brought down by Arnold.  Hodge making it one-four from the penalty spot.

Wood gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Ben Birch forced home a left wing corner at the far post on 66 minutes.

Five minutes later the revival was snuffed out, a central free kick was touched sideways to Keannu Cooper to fire in an unstoppable dipping drive from 30 yards. Two minutes later Arnold saved bravely at the feet of Hodge, then was up quickly to tackle Thomas on the edge of the box.

No excuses for Wood, this was a total horror show from a game that had seen them play well for 30 minutes before they lost their way with a vengeance.

Bill Shaw.

The Teams:

Walsall Wood – Arnold, Mansell, Beckett, Boothe, Birch, Juxon, H. Harris (captain), Butlin, Aiton, Edwards, Jackson, Hutton, Wright, L. Harris, Taylor.

Shawbury United – Havard, Haynes, Taylor, O. Lloyd, Askey, K. Cooper, Armstrong, Knowles, Hodge, Ellis(captain), Thomas, Stallard, J. Lloyd, Ballard, D. Cooper, Groom.

Thanks to Bill and David for their continued diligent reporting, and my best wishes to the Wood faithful and club – here’s hoping the current turbulence passes quickly.

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1 Response to Turmoil at Oak Park as Shawbury hammer faltering Wood

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Thanks for this report and the astonishing post script. A new chapter begins as one closes.
    I wish Mark all the best and also hope the team rapidly regain their usual composure .
    Kind regards

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