Yesterday, Saturday 9th September 2017 saw Walsall Wood travel to Highgate United’s ground in Shirley to square off against Division Two team Barnt Green Spartak – and what should have been a walk in the park… wasn’t.
Bill Shaw was there, and with uncomfortable echoes of the ill-fated Tividale match that saw Wood out of the FA Cup ringing in his ears, he filed this match report:
Wood advanced into the next round but had to really work hard for the win, at times it reminded everyone of the Tividale FA Cup game and we know how that finished…
Patience and perseverance paid off in the end, with the Peter Till 71st minute goal, from then on there was only ever going to be one winner.
No midweek game for the first team, they visit the superb old Hinckley United ground on Saturday, a little drive down the A447 for me, see you all there.
F. A. Vase
Barnt Green Spartak 0 v 1 Walsall Wood
A spirited rearguard performance by lowly Division Two side Spartak saw them frustrate high flying Wood for 70 minutes until with the game moving towards a stalemate and extra time a piece of sublime skill by Peter Till saw him finally break the deadlock.
From the start it was all Wood, after just two minutes Paul Sullivan ran into the right of the box, lobbed the advancing keeper Colin Matthews, Aussie James Karanicholas getting back to hack the ball clear off the goal line. Three minutes later it was Sullivan wide left, swapping passes with Peter Till before firing in a low drive that was deflected narrowly wide. To their credit Spartak kept the game tight closing Wood down all over the field until on 14 minutes Sullivan collected a ball from Andrew Westwood on the right edge of the box, he cleverly fed Joey Butlin who sidestepped his marker, Matthews just managing to push his low drive around the post. From the corner the ball was played back to Mitch Tolley to hit a low drive through a packed area to bring another full length save from Matthews. Four minutes later skipper Darren Campion charged down the left, his cross misjudged by a defender at the far post, going through to Lewis Hayden, Matthews making another full length save from his low drive. Three minutes later Till crossed from the left, Butlin cleverly chested the ball back for Tolley, his shot blocked by a brave defender. A minute later Sullivan was released through the centre, Shaun Keeley getting back to make a superb last ditch challenge.
On 25 minutes a misplaced header in centre midfield was seized upon by Dominic Strevens who from 25 yards hit a rising drive that bounced to safety off the bar with keeper Lloyd Ransome beaten.
A minute later Sullivan powered in from the left, played the ball into the path of Chris Slater, his rising drive tipped over at full stretch by Matthews. On 30 minutes Sullivan came in from the left, his low ball into the box causing consternation in the home defence as shot after shot was charged down, before Butlin saw his goalbound effort deflected just over the bar. Five minutes later Till won the ball wide left, scythed inside through three tackles before firing a low drive inches wide. Two minutes later Hayden wide right had two crosses charged down before he found Till on the right edge of the six yard box only for him to neatly flick the ball agonisingly wide. Right on half time Till crossed from the left, (Tony Clarke on for the injured Sullivan) flicked a header to the right, Butlin under intense pressure heading over.
Three minutes into the second half a poor clearance went to Tony Herbert 40 yards out wide on the right, seeing Ransome off his line he tried a cheeky lob that a fast retreating Ransome was relieved to see land on the roof of the net.
Two minutes later Till cut inside from wide left, his low drive finally beating Matthews only to bounce to safety off the foot of the left hand post. On 56 minutes a left to right diagonal run through the centre by Till ended with his low drive bringing another full length save from Matthews.
A minute later a forceful left wing run by Kevon Henry saw him cut inside, his low drive from the edge of the box blocked by Chris Slater as Wood realised they had to stay alert.
On 60 minutes Till and Campion ripped open the home defence wide left, Till’s rising drive swinging wide of the right hand post. four minutes later from a left wing corner the ball fell to Craig Deakin to fire a first time effort well wide. On 71 minutes Daniel Okojie won the ball on halfway before finding Till wide left, he again cut inside, tiring defenders unable to close him down and from just inside the box his low drive finally beat Matthews just inside the left hand post. Spartak weren’t given much chance of mounting a grandstand finish and it was Wood who finished on top. Jordan Fitzpatrick seeing a shot blocked, Deakin hitting the loose ball high over the bar. Clarke had a shot deflected for a corner and right on time a neat one touch move on the left of the box saw Butlin set up to fire in a low drive that was fittingly saved at full stretch by man of the match Matthews.
At times it wasn’t pretty as everyone waited for Spartak to run out of steam, but it didn’t happen as they still chased everything until the end, even when Wood did break through it was Matthews equal to almost anything Wood could throw at him. Justice was however done in the end and it’s Wood who go into the draw for the next round on 23rd September.
Next up for Wood is a visit to Leicester Road next Saturday, can they make it seven league wins out of seven?
Barnt Green Spartak – Matthews, Wilson, Henry, Karanicholas, Bishop, Keeley, Moulton, Wyatt, Strevens, Herbert, Jones, Green, Wright, Redden, Prescod, Simms.
Walsall Wood – Ransome, Okojie, Campion (captain), Slater, McFarlane, Tolley, Till, Westwood, Sullivan, Butlin Hayden, Clarke, Birch, Fitzpatrick, Deakin, Faultless.
Well done lads – and thanks to Bill for yet another great match report from the supposedly retired ace reporter.
You just can’t keep a good man down.
Cheers to all, and remember, it’s all For The Good Of The Wood!