New Year’s Eve (Saturday, 31st December 2016) saw Walsall Wood FC travel our to Stourport, where Walshes Meadow was the venue for a resurgent Wood team’s fourth win on the trot.
There’s some sad, but understandable news here from Bill, too. I will be very sad about it; make no mistake, the match reviews he writes have a large readership and Bill’s wit, wisdom and human touch will be very much missed.
Bill old chap? I wish you all the best for the new year. It’s been a genuine pleasure and honour to feature your work here.
A solid defensive performance, with an impressive debut by returning Adam Wood and keeper No. 10 Lewis Gwilliams (signed from Swifts on Friday). It’s a great way of undermining your opponents, signing their keeper 24 hours before the game, especially when he turns in a man of the match performance. Swifts probably had 70% of the possession but Wood comfortably soaked up almost constant pressure but always looked dangerous on the break.
It’s AFC Wulfrunians at Wood on Bank Holiday Monday kick off 3:00 pm with next Saturday a real test of the new team when they visit Lye Town.
I promised some news after the win over St. Andrews, well here it is, as promised. I have decided after 17 years of reporting on Walsall Wood and Pelsall Villa that the time has come to hang up my pen. It’s mainly a health issue decision, the last 12 months (or should I say nine) have got progressively more and more difficult and it’s time to call it a day. I was talked out of retiring six years ago, but this time there will be no change of mind. It’s been a blast and I wouldn’t have missed it for the World.
Ironically our last league game of this season is away at Westfields on April 29th, when the last three seasons have seen us finish the season at home. Needless to say I’ll be writing reports until then so I haven’t gone yet.
By the way, two additions to the January fixture list, Tuesday 10th sees us entertain Wolves Sporting in the replay of the abandoned game. Then Tuesday 24th see Highgate United come a calling in the league cup.
Can we wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year from The Wood?
Stourport Swifts 1 v 2 Walsall Wood
Wood recorded their fourth two-one victory on the bounce but they were made to fight all the way by a brave Swifts side who deserved at least a point from their battling performance.
Swifts started quickly putting Wood under early pressure without troubling former keeper Lewis Gwilliams, but it was the visitors who went ahead after 10 minutes, Steven Hayles went racing clear wide left, his cross to the right of the box was controlled superbly by Drew Aiton who played the ball through the defence into the six yard box for the ever alert Joey Butlin to steer the ball past keeper Dominic Richards.
On 19 minutes danger man Jack Bailey cut inside from wide right, played a neat one-two with Alex Smith before finding Aaron Lloyd only for the ball to bounce off the striker straight to Gwilliams. On 27 minutes Joe Phillips powered down the left wing, his cross cum shot right under the bar was pushed away by Gwilliams. Two minutes later Phillips wide left crossed to the near post and Lloyd’s downward header bounced off the left hand post. Four minutes later it was Bailey wide right who crossed beyond the far post, a header from Phillips bringing a full length save from Gwilliams. On 44 minutes Jim Hanson collected a ball into the right of the box, his vicious low cross superbly cut out at the near post by Gwilliams.
On 51 minutes Phillips was set up by Lloyd on the left of the box, Gwilliams again saving the low drive at full stretch. Three minutes later from a left wing corner Lloyd powered in a header that was pushed away by Gwilliams. On 58 minutes Smith cut inside from the right, his cross shot finally beat Gwilliams, amazingly the ball bounced to safety off Lloyd on the goal line.
On 61 minutes a 40 yard central free kick by Adam Wood was half cleared to Aiton who hit a first time effort just wide from 25 yards.
Back to Swifts attacking, when two minutes later Bailey cut in from the right, his far post cross met by Hanson who volleyed wide. Bailey again on 66 minutes crossed into the centre, Lloyd flicked a header on and Phillips volleyed the ball straight at Gwilliams.
On 68 minutes Liam Rushworth raced clear wide on the Wood right, his far post cross glanced the wrong side of the post by an Anthony Juxon header. Swifts kept Wood under pressure but couldn’t make the breakthrough. Always open to the counter attack they were nearly caught out on 82 minutes, a long high ball forward by Gwilliams was misjudged by Butlin and Matthew Fulloway allowing Romeao Hutton the chance to run through on goal to beat the keeper and the right hand post. A minute later Wood looked to have sewn the game up, Rushworth cutting inside from wide right at pace, he played a clever one-two with Butlin and his low drive from the left of the box gave Richards no chance.
On 88 minutes Hanson raced onto a ball right of centre, his howitzer rising drive from 30 yards going through the hands of Gwilliams. A minute later it should have been all square, Phillips crossing into the six yard box from the left, Matthew Pinder stabbing the ball wide from all of five yards.
Wood’s fourth win on the trot under the Harry Harris/Scott Rickards management partnership moved them up to seventh place, tantalisingly close to the top six. With Brocton continuing their revival the bottom is looking very tight, Monday’s opponents for Wood AFC Wulfrunians could find themselves sucked into the relegation dogfight if they lose that game. Next Saturday sees the real examination of Wood’s revival credentials when they visit high flying Lye Town.
All that remains is to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year from all at The Wood.
Stourport Swifts – Richards, Smith, Wager, Priest, Fulloway (captain) Hurrell, Phillips, Hanson, Lloyd, Perry, Bailey, Pinder, Hudson, Robinson, Grant.
Walsall Wood – Gwilliams, Deakin, Hayles, Bains, Ricketts, Wood, Juxon, Rickards, Butlin (captain), Aiton, Shaw, Molesworth, Hutton, Taylor, Harris, Palmer.
Walsall Wood Football Club are a top local side with a big-hearted faithful who know how to have a great time supporting their lads, and welcome all comers to come enjoy great local soccer. The boys from The Wood have been at the heart of the local community for a century or more, so please do go check out a match or two if you’re curious.
I guarantee you’ll have more fun cheering on the local chaps than you ever will watching the over-priced prima donnas on TV…
Cheers old chap. For the good of The Wood!