FULL MATCH REPORT
Willenhall eased through to the Final of the Birmingham Midweek Vase against high-flying Midlands League Division 1 Cadbury Athletic, taking advantage of an early red-card and penalty. The Lockmen attacked first, winning a corner after only two minutes, but this was wasted as the delivery from Eddie Wilson was over-hit. Two minutes later the visitors won a free-kick on the edge of the box but Jamel Fuller easily cleared his lines. Fuller was quickly in action at the other end as Mikey Clark made a jinking run across the box from left to right, the ball ran free to the full-back and his effort was deflected to keeper Ken Sanders on five minutes. The Lockmen were given a huge boost when Matt Dorgan’s run into the box saw Athletic defender James Finn step across his path, bringing him down, referee Richie Watkins signalled a penalty and then red-carded the unfortunate Finn. Mikey Clark converted the subsequent spot-kick on seven minutes. Defender Tom Turner, playing in goal due to unavailability of regular keeper Ben Holden and injury to James Fryer, made his first save of the night on 11 minutes when he confidently held a strike from the left after a clever break down the wing. There was more danger three minutes later when Graham Ashton conceded possession to visiting skipper Stuart Butcher on the edge of the box, however, the striker was hassled and harried into a weak effort at Turner. The keeper then claimed a Wilson corner on 17 minutes as The Lockmen eyed another goal. As the game settled into a midfield battle, the next chance saw Clark feed Dorgan on 27 minutes, his clever pass found the returning Danny Hemmings, but his effort was flicked just wide from close range. The Lockmen further pressured on 35 minutes when a superb piece of skill saw Dorgan fetch a high ball down, control and turn before firing goal wards, almost beating the keeper. Two minutes later and Sanders fumbled a close range shot from Harry Rickus against the onrushing striker, the ball bounced behind for a goal-kick. Rickus then won a corner five minutes before the break, again Wilson’s corner was claimed by the keeper. Athletic had the final say of the half a minute into stoppage-time but the free-kick from just outside the box flew high and wide.
HT WILLENHALL TOWN 1-0 CADBURY ATHLETIC
The Lockmen got the best possible start they could have wished for after the break when they doubled their advantage 28 seconds into the second-half. A superb cross from Lyndon Weller from the half-way line saw him pick out Clark’s run and he calmly fired across the exposed keeper into the corner of the net. On 48 minutes it appeared that they had sealed their Final appearance with a third goal. Rickus did brilliantly to beat two men and get to the goal-line, he then cut the ball back for the inrushing Eddie Wilson and he calmly fired through a ruck of players to net what looked like it would prove to be the clincher. However, eight minutes later Athletic showed that they were more than just a long ball team when clever play through the centre saw Ben Mooney receive the ball, and he veered to the right of the edge of the box before firing home. Substitute Dean Lea fired weakly at Turner a minute later before the visitors were awarded a free-kick on 68 minutes just outside the box. The effort merely deflected off the wall for an unproductive corner. Hemmings almost set up a fourth for The Reds on 72 minutes when his quick feet bamboozled a couple of defenders and set up Clark who forced a brilliant save from the Cadbury’s keeper. Wilson’s corner was picked up by Dorgan who could only find the side-netting from a decent position. Another couple of corners were defended comfortably by the visitors as The Lockmen kept the ball well away from their goal before the numbers were evened up as Dorgan received a harsh red card for what looked a fierce but perfectly fair tackle. Clark very nearly had a hat-trick with six minutes remaining, his screamer flying inches too high. Turner then produced a brilliant save to deny Butcher in stoppage-time and the last action five minutes into added time saw Clark race from box to box before feeding Wilson who brought a fine stop to leave the final score at 3-1 to Willenhall and a first cup final in eight years.
FT WILLENHALL TOWN 3-1 CADBURY ATHLETIC
By Chris Burton – Match Secretary
Reproduction by prior-consent of The Lockmen Limited t/a Willenhall Town FC only