Last Bank Holiday Monday afternoon (17th April 2017) Walsall Wood visited Highgate United, who sadly managed to turn around a match that had seemed in the bag for Walsall Wood.
Bill Shaw was there, and with somewhat frayed nerves, sent the following report:
I really am getting too old for this, two-nil up and coasting, we somehow transpired to lose it. For 80 minutes you couldn’t understand how Wood had ever looked to be in danger of relegation, for 10 minutes at the end it was more than obvious why.
All is not lost, three points against Heanor Town on Saturday will still see us safe.
My last home game folks, please do come and say goodbye.
Highgate United 3 v 2 Walsall Wood
Wood two-nil up with 10minutes to go lost Josh Mansell to an injury sustained two minutes earlier when his brave challenge denied Lei Brown and Josh Hawker on the left of the six yard box. Three minutes on from his substitution the ball came in from the left, Brown’s point blank effort was somehow kept out by keeper Andy Hughes only for Marco Adaggio to fire the ball into the roof of the net, game on. James Loney raced onto a ball into the left of the box, went down under an untidy challenge, Hughes saved Hawker’s penalty but was powerless to stop Hawker scoring with his follow up effort. Well into injury time a long throw by Orrin Pedley was half cleared to hotshot Romario Martin whose 30 yard thunderbolt flew into the top right hand corner, an effort that three keepers wouldn’t have stopped.
A scrappy opening until on 15 minutes James Spray ran through the centre, found Liam Molesworth in the centre of the D, he held the ball up cleverly and Joey Butlin drilled a low drive just inside the left hand post to put Wood ahead. Wood at this stage were the better side. Butlin hit a speculative 40 yard drive four minutes later that was easily saved by keeper Brad Hayward, six minutes later he glanced a Drew Aiton cross just wide, they combined again on 27 minutes, Aiton fired a ball into the box and Butlin at full stretch just touched the ball wide. A minute later it was debutant Daniel Okojie racing through left of centre, his ball inside to Spray hit first time but Hayward saved comfortably.
On 33 minutes Orrin Pedley got clear wide right, cut inside and hit a near post shot that keeper Andy Hughes pushed in the air, the ball dropping at the far post, Josh Mansell heading behind to deny Lei Brown.
On 44 minutes Butlin pressured a defender into a mistake in the centre circle, his misplaced pass finding Lewis Taylor Boyce wide on the Wood left, he ran on before finding Aiton who cut inside and gave Hayward no chance as he calmly slotted home number two. On 45 minutes a 35 yard Butlin left wing free kick beat Hayward and bounced to safety off the foot of the post.
On 58 minutes skipper Josh Hawker faded across the face of the Wood box played a tight one-two with Romario Martin but finished weakly. Seven minutes later Brown’s crossfield ball picked out Pedley on the right of the box, his first time drive superbly saved by Hughes. Two minutes later Martin raced onto a through ball into the centre of the box, his first time rising drive finger-tipped over by Hughes. Two minutes later Pedley hit a high speculative ball into the right of the box, Brown read the bounce, his fierce drive bravely blocked by Hughes. What proved to be the turning point of the contest came on 78 minutes, Hawker and Brown raced onto a ball into the left of the box only to be denied by a superb challenge by Josh Mansell which left him lying in a heap in the six yard box, he carried on after treatment but had to go off two minutes later.
Within three minutes ‘Gate had exploited the gap, the ball played into the centre from wide left, Brown saw his shot from close range superbly saved by Hughes only for Marco Adaggio to fire the loose ball into the roof of the net. Almost on 90 minutes James Loney raced into the left of the box and went down under a clumsy challenge. The spot kick by Hawker stopped by Hughes but it fell to Hawker to joyfully fire home the equaliser. It got worse for Wood when three minutes into injury time Pedley hurled in another long throw that was half cleared to Martin 30 yards out, his howitzer drive flying into the top right hand corner to give the home side a fortuitous victory.
The loss of Josh Mansell because of injury was the pivotal point of the contest, Highgate to their credit exploited the gap his substitution opened up, but Wood have lost some cruel games this season, this was by far the hardest one to take.
Highgate United – Hayward, Pedley, Loney, Bryan, Turner, Edwards, Hylton, Hawker (captain), Adaggio, Martin, Brown, Cole, Thomas, Cooke, Manning, Bunn.
Walsall Wood – Hughes, Mansell, Okojie, L. Harris, Brooks, Bains, Molesworth, Aiton, Butlin (captain), Spray, Taylor Boyce, Henry Harris, Bland, Graham, Harry Harris, Taylor.
I know many of you lot love the match reports and news from Oak Park, and it’s great to be able to share them: I thank Bill Shaw profusely – he’s a top bloke.
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…
For the good of The Wood!