The Lockmen produced a masterclass in each half, an attacking one in the first half and a defensive one in the second-half, to take a hard won but completely deserved three points away from Dudley Sports.
Domonic Strevens was first to show for the home side when his snapshot went wide on two minutes. A minute later Sports brought a save from Harry Radford in the Lockmen goal. However, from Town’s first threat they opened the scoring in style. A ball forward down the inside left channel picked out Chadd Birch and his strong run was followed by a hammered effort which flew into the far corner of the net from an acute angle. Sixty seconds later a carbon copy move saw Birch crash his effort against the inside of the far post, unfortunately coming back into play. Sports won a free-kick on nine minutes which was comfortably saved by Radford. The lockmen then broke quickly and Mark Habbershaw saw a couple of efforts blocked by the defence. The pressure continued on 11 minutes when Sam Brook and Remie Birch combined well to set up Curtis Ellis, however his effort curled just wide. More clever play set Chadd Birch chasing a through ball, Joe Sidaway in the Sports goal won the race, however. On 22 minutes the home side levelled out of the blue when Strevens hit a hopeful 30 yard effort which flew right in the top corner of the net. The visitors attempted to hit back on 26 minutes when Jamal Pinnock hit a delightful pass wide to Chadd Birch, he set up Ellis but his dangerous cross was cleared. Luke Williams then fired at Radford as the home side threatened on 28 minutes before Habbershaw forced a good save from the Sports keeper a minute later. More fine work involving a cross from Pinnock and more clever work from Chadd Birch set up Habbershaw who turner inside and out to create a shooting chance which flew just over. On 38 minutes Chadd Birch broke again but his shot flew into the keeper’s midriff. A minute before the break and Radford produced a brilliant one handed tip-over when it looked like a ‘goal’ all the way.
HT DUDLEY SPORTS 1-1 WILLENHALL TOWN
The visitors started on the attack and Ellis and Remie Birch combined well to see the latter fire a cross-shot just beyond the farpost. Chris Rabone missed an absolute sitter on 55 minutes completely miss-kicking when unmarked for the home side. Three minutes later and they were punished for the bad miss when The Lockmen took the lead. Chadd Birch made a mazy run which was halted illegally the box. Player-manager Habbershaw stepped up to smack home the spot-kick. Marlon Taylor immediately replaced the scorer. Four minutes later Town were extremely unlucky when Ellis hit a beautiful effort that dipped at the last second and produced an excellent tip over from the Sport’s keeper. From the resultant corner, taken by Ellis, Kyle Thompson glanced a header inches wide from close range. With twenty minutes to play a Lockmen free-kick was spilt by the keeper and the ball almost deflected in from the attempted clearance before the ball was cleared properly. Sports were really throwing the kitchen sink at Willenhall now but a succession of crunching tackles, defensive blocks and interceptions snuffed out any danger before the ball could get anywhere near the goal. Indeed, the only two chances in those last twenty minutes saw an Ellis shot rise just over on 79 minutes and another free-kick on 83 minutes that was comfortably saved.
Match report by Chris Burton.