A shock for the mighty Woodmen yesterday, then (Saturday 25th November 2017) as Walsall Wood FC were defeated away at Atherstone Town in a great match much enjoyed by Bill Shaw.
This brings to a shuddering halt the amazing run of wins in recent weeks, and must have been a shock in the clubhouse.
Bill was at Atherstone, enjoyed the match despite the defeat, and even had kind words for the referee:
Well we lost but this was a game in which football was the winner. Played in the right spirit, superbly refereed, (for a very pleasant change.) As someone said in the bar afterwards, ‘I don’t know how many were here today but that game deserved a far better crowd.’
Just like season 2012-13 Wood are going to have to come from behind if they are going to win the title, remember folks, the only league table that matters is the one at the end of April.
Atherstone Town 3 v 2 Walsall Wood
A game to grace any football ground in the country or the World for that matter, a great never say die attitude from both sides, for a change superbly refereed by Sam Anderson. It was a contest between the division’s hot shot strikers Alex Naughton and Paul Sullivan who both scored twice, the difference on the day was Luke Shorthouse who scored Towns second equaliser.
Wood penned the Adders back in their own half at the start but almost got caught on the break when on five minutes skipper Kyle Baxter was released wide left his cross headed just over by the fast arriving Luke Shorthouse.
Match highlights post on YouTube by Swifts Fan
Two minutes later Lewis Hayden fed Paul Sullivan wide left, he came inside leaving two defenders in his wake, his low drive well held by keeper George Woodward. On 10 minutes a right wing free kick found Sullivan on the right edge of the box, he held the ball up before turning and hitting a shot that flew in off the underside of the bar to open the scoring.
From the restart the Adders won a corner, Alex Naughton with a free header that was well saved by Wood keeper Lloyd Ransome. On 22 minutes Luke Shorthouse powered inside from wide left, his low cross just behind Ryan Quinn. The roles were reversed three minutes later, the cross just too high for Shorthouse. They cleverly combined a minute later Quinn clipped as he raced into the right of the box, penalty given, Naughton 1-1.
On 28 minutes a ball through the centre found Sullivan, keeper Woodward attempted to fly kick clear, the ball flying to the left of the box off Sullivan, Peter Till first to react cutting back inside and hitting a low drive that Woodward held at the near post. Five minutes later Craig Deakin won the ball and played a ball wide left that was collected at pace by Tony Clarke, he made the byeline went through one challenge, played the ball across goal to find Sullivan who tucked home his and Woods second. On 41 minutes Lee Butler played a ball over the top to find Sullivan who fired a rising drive that was superbly tipped over by Woodward.
On 45 minutes a right wing free kick was half cleared to Mark Williams to hit a first time rising drive inches too high for the Adders.
Adders started the second half as Wood started the first, penning the visitors back in their half until on 55 minutes Baxter crossed from wide right, Ransome was fooled by the flight of the ball and Shorthouse pounced at the far post to tap home equaliser number two.
On 61 minutes Sullivan came out of defence with the ball, his defence splitting right to left diagonal ball saw Woodward race from his box to fly kick clear from Clarke.
Two minutes later a free kick left of centre 30 yards out was hit just wide by Naughton. A further couple of minutes on, a powerful run left of centre into the box saw him forced wide and he ran the ball out.
On 71 minutes a spell of left wing pressure ended with Darren Eggleton blocking Sullivans’ goal bound effort. On 81 minutes a left wing corner fell to Brad Lawler to turn and roll a cross shot just the wrong side of the post.
Two minutes later Shorthouse raced away wide right, his far post cross saw Ransome down bravely at the feet of Naughton. After a long injury delay play resumed and in the 93rd minute from a right wing corner Wood failed to clear the ball at the near post, Naughton took charge, turning and firing the ball home as Wood conceded three goals for the first time this season.
This defeat sees Ilkeston Town and Leicester Road go two points clear at the top but Wood have four and three games respectively in hand. The Adders close the gap on Wood to four points with them both having played the same number of games. With Studley now fourth the Adders fifth and Hinckley now sixth you can’t see the title going to anyone outside the top six.
Wood don’t have a league game now until they visit Ilkeston Town on December 9th followed by Leicester Road at home a week later, so a difficult few weeks before it starts to ease.
It’s Wednesfield Town at the Wood on Tuesday night before the big one next Saturday when Wood visit Stourport Swifts in Round Three of the FA Vase.
Atherstone Town – Woodward, Eggleton, Green, Haines, Bilic, Williams, Quinn, Baxter (captain), Naughton, Shorthouse, Thomson, Miller, Harris, Walker-Donovan, Douglas.
Walsall Wood – Ransome, Hayden, Deakin, Meakin-Richards, Slater (captain), Hurren, Butler, Westwood, Sullivan, Clarke, Till, Mugisha, McFarlane, Lawler, Agar, Birch.
Thanks to Bill for that one – my commiserations to the lads.
Back on Tuesday, 21st November 2017, it was a different story as Walsall Wood subjected Stourport Swifts to a Hume drubbing, leaving them in the dust of a 4-0 defeat.
Bill Shaw submitted the following report:
Four goals without reply, as we rested some of the squad it bodes well for the big one on 2nd December.
Just a little matter of Atherstone Town in the way next as we look to consolidate top spot.
Keep the faith.
Polymac Packaging League Cup
Stourport Swifts 0 v 4 Walsall Wood
This was the first of two games in 11 days for the teams and first division leaders Wood had no problem with their Premier division opponents easily moving into the next round.
It was Wood first out of the blocks with Stan Mugisha going close in the early exchanges and then keeper Tom Palmer saved easily from the striker. It didn’t take Wood long to go ahead, Andy Westwood delivered a free kick into the box and Callum McFarlane powered a header home. A few minutes later Mugisha ghosted in at the back post to tuck home the second.
Swifts replied winning a free kick on the edge of the box, keeper Lloyd Ransome saving easily.
At the start of the second half a sublime run from Lewis Hayden who fed Sam Agar, Palmer saving bravely at his feet. From a corner Mugisha pounced to make it 3-0 and basically put the tie to bed. Next skipper Mitch Tolley fired a free kick into the defensive wall, Agar first to the rebound to set up Bradley Lawler to hit a first time effort that was well saved by Palmer. Next it was Gavin Hurren joining the attack only to fire over.
Wood almost got caught out at the back, a cross into the box and a free header well saved by Ransome who was glad of the exercise.
Late on Wood opened up the home defence, Mugisha unselfishly setting up strike partner Agar to tap home thus finishing off a good nights work.
The game on Saturday week will be another challenge but this win puts a marker down for all to see, as the Wood of 2017-2018 ominously begin to look like the all-conquering side of 2012-2013, exciting times at Walsall Wood.
Lots of noise coming from Ilkeston Town, well you would be closing in on us, you’ve played four more games after all.
Stourport Swifts – Palmer, Hanson, Beasley (captain), Hanson, Priest, Hurrell, Hudson, Newman, Lloyd, Perry, McPherson, Caines, Parsons-Smith, Sweeney, Bailey, Richards.
Walsall Wood – Ransome, Butler, Hayden, Slater, McFarlane, Tolley (captain), Westwood, Lawley, Agar, Mugisha, Fitzpatrick, Clarke, Meakin-Richards, Sullivan, Hurren, Birch.
As ever, thanks to Bill, David and Russell for the report – always appreciated, and Bill – do get well soon mate. Best wishes. For The Good of the Wood!