The Willenhall suffered a late defeat as they undeservedly lost at a handy looking Cradley outfit, however, missed first half chances would come back to haunt them in this Black Country derby.
The Lockmen attacked from the off and after only twenty seconds, ‘Ammer’s keeper Dominic Hill had had to pluck Mikey Clark’s dangerous centre out of the air. The home side had a third minute free-kick which was headed clear before Matt Dorgan met Kieran Robinson’s first time cross on six minutes with a first time volley, which Hill saved comfortably. A long clearance from the visiting defence two minutes later bounced past a defender and Mikey Clark won the race with keeper Hill and he glanced the header past the stricken keeper but it bounced two inches wide. Tim Paterson, on his Willenhall debut, held a shot well after a fine left wing cross created a shooting chance for the home side on 12 minutes. The Lockmen pressed hard and two minutes later won a corner, taken by Robinson, the effort was deflected behind for another flag-kick. This time Eddie Wynne-Willson took and he produced a fine delivery, a header forced former Red-Boy Scott Stevenson to first kick off his own goal line before he managed to then head Lyndon Weller’s follow-up shot off the line. The Lockmen were continuing to cause no end of problems for the home side and Robinson produced another high quality corner which saw Dorgan’s low effort blocked away to Danny Hemmings and his shot was scrambled clear.
Cradley then won a corner on 18 minutes which was well dealt with. Three minutes later and Lewis Clarke was penalised for a late challenge but the free-kick was wasted. Another followed on the 25 minute mark, this time it was half cleared as far as Clark and his first time effort was well held by Hill. Clark then had another strike which flew at the keeper on 28 minutes. The goal that had long been coming arrived on 29 minutes and it was well worth the wait. First Wilson and Clark swapped passes through the midfield before the former then found Dorgan, his quick one-two with Matt Dove then freed Dorgan to move the ball onto Clark who had continued his run and he fired sweetly past Hill to break the deadlock. Two minutes later and Clark beat the Cradley keeper to a through ball and he crossed for Dorgan who saw a good low shot blocked off the line, the loose ball ran to Willson who blazed over from 12 yards. Stevenson then blazed high and wide for the home side on 34 minutes before Adam Holliday hit a firm shot from thirty yards straight at the keeper two minutes later. Patterson then produced a good double save, first palming away a dangerous cross before bouncing back up to his feet in time to smother a close range follow up. The ‘Ammers had an unproductive corner on 37 minutes before Clark headed well wide at the other end three minutes later. With three minutes to half-time Dove broke again and fed Robinson who passed the ball on to Clark, he then fed Dorgan who saw his effort deflected behind for another corner. Cradley then broke through Stourbridge loanee Ben Billingham, but he blazed high and wide.
Clark had a great chance two minutes after the restart when the ball bounced free to him, unfortunately the chance seemed to hit him and the chance was gone. Out of the blue the home side levelled on 52 minutes when a long ball forwards was not dealt with and Adam Meacham latched onto it to lob home. Wilson then sent a free-kick into the box a minute after the goal and his ball picked out Dorgan who forced a good low save from the Cradley keeper. Ten minutes after the break and The Lockmen were stretched by another long ball, this time Billingham rounded the keeper to fire goal wards but he was thwarted by a brilliant goal-line clearance. Aaron Lloyd was then high and wide before Billingham saw a header from a Stevenson right wing cross drop onto the top of the bar on the hour mark. The home side were well on top and on 69 minutes Stevenson fired at Paterson to force another save. With ten minutes on the clock The Lockmen defence did well to block two close range efforts before on 81 minutes they had luck on their side as a free-kick from the edge of the box bounced back off the inside of a post. The ball was recycled back into the danger zone where the now overworked Lockmen defence managed to block two successive efforts from close range before clearing. However, on 86 minutes all of the hard work came undone as Billingham hit a speculative thirty yard shot which took a big deflection to wrong-foot Paterson for the winning goal.
The Lockmen had two free-kicks late on as The ‘Ammers seemed to lose their discipline with a succession of late yellows bringing pressure and from the second of these Dorgan saw his effort cleared for a stoppage-time corner which was cleared.