On Tuesday evening last (21st March 2017), Walsall Wood FC faced Shepshed Dynamo at home, and the Woodmen proved themselves superior to the visitors in what proved to be a tight, hard fought match, resulting in Wood’s first win in a long time.
Bill Shaw submitted the following match report:
To the tune of the Brenda Lee hit of the 60s As Usual, I’ve changed the words a little bit to read ‘The Wood have won a match again – Unusual.’
It was a game full of tension, not helped by the 90 minutes of almost constant foul mouthed abuse aimed mainly at the match officials that came from the away team dugout. Throw in that Shepshed don’t know how to lose and you can imagine how the tension ratchetted up notch by notch, culminating in those interminable last four minutes of injury time – believe it or not I’ve still got nails left.
As for the Wood, it would be unfair to single out any one player, there were 12 heroes out there who thoroughly deserved their first win in 80 days – strewth, Jules Verne’s hero got round the World in that time.
It’s no time to relax though as there’s still a lot to play for between now and April 29th, but this was a start and we build from here, take a bow everyone, you certainly earned it…
Walsall Wood 1 v 0 Shepshed Dynamo
A 17th minute strike from Richard Gregory was enough to give Wood their first victory of 2017 on a night of high tension, as the win moved them up to 13th place on goal difference over Quorn and Shawbury United all on 41 points.
It was the visitors who threatened first, a move through the centre ending with Liam Hurst firing a first time effort into the side netting on three minutes. Five minutes later a misplaced clearance by under pressure Wood keeper Adam Jenkins found Joel Carta 30 yards out, his first time drive pushed away by Jenkins at full stretch. Matt Gardner first to the loose ball but under pressure from Sam Brooks he hit a first time effort just wide.
Wood started to settle down with some neat approach play but unable to make the final ball count. That all changed however when on 17 minutes Drew Aiton won the ball on halfway before releasing Michael Williams wide right, his ball into the box found debutant James Spray, his low cross met by Richard Gregory to score with a powerful drive. On 31 minutes a ball out to the right by Joey Butlin was flicked on by Spray with an exquisite acrobatic ball inside to Aiton, who ran on and his low drive was pushed away at full stretch by keeper Dan Farrall.
Both sides huffed and puffed for the next 15 minutes but play was kept to about 30 yards each side of the halfway line as defences reigned supreme.
A minute into the second half a sweeping Wood move right of centre ended with a low drive from Spray bringing a full length save from Farrall. On 63 minutes a Williams right wing cross was headed out to Aiton to fire a first time effort wide.
The visitors first effort on goal in the second half came on 70 minutes, Josh Morrall racing onto a ball left of centre, his shot looped up off a defender and over the bar. From the corner Wood couldn’t get the ball away, defenders bravely blocking three attempts on goal with Kamikaze challenges before finally getting the ball clear.
Four minutes later a free kick for Wood just right of the D was fired in by Butlin, Farrall with a great save to deny Wood a second goal.
Then on 76 minutes a right wing free kick found Gardner in space, his low drive pushed around his right hand post by Jenkins at full stretch. From the corner it was Gardner again powering in a header that was headed off the line by Rikki Bains.
With the first win of 2017 in their sights Wood went into their shell, defending deeper and deeper as the visitors cranked up the pressure but couldn’t find a way through what was now virtually a ten man defence. The tension was almost touchable and when the referee intimated there was four minutes of injury time the Wood faithful went quieter and quieter, letting out a roar of relief at the final whistle as they recorded the first win of 2017.
No star of the show tonight, just 12 heroes giving manager Harry Harris everything. Last night was only a battle, the war goes on, they aren’t safe yet but this result certainly lifted some of the storm clouds, for a few days at least, but it all starts again on Saturday at Coleshill Town.
Walsall Wood – Jenkins, Williams, Adams, Bains, Brooks, Wood, Aiton, Juxon, Butlin (captain), Spray, Gregory, Molesworth, Taylor Boyce, Mansell, Deakin, Ricketts.
Shepshed Dynamo – Farrall, Adam Hohn, Morrall, Pheasant, Betts (captain), Miveld, Carta, Hurst, Woolley, Gardner, Read, Goddard, Dunn, Andrews, Pole, Andy Hohn.
My thanks to Bill for a great report – and for all those he selflessly writes and send to me after every match. They really are popular, and a credit to Bill and the club. Walsall Wood have a reputation for being a great, community spirited group of people and these reports demonstrate that – it’s an honour and joy to feature them here.
For the good of the Wood!