The Lockmen returned to winning ways, producing a fine performance to completely outplay a Shifnal side, who were reduced mostly to hitting long hopeful balls in an attempt to get something out of the game.
A quiet opening was broken on ten minutes when the Shropshire visitors forced a corner, however, this was easily punched clear by Chris Bourne. a minute later William Wells brought a routine low save out of the keeper. Shifnal had another flag-kick on 13 minutes but there was no threat from an easily cleared ball in. Completely out of the blue on the quarter-hour The Lockmen took the lead. There appeared to be no danger whatsoever as Sam Brook won a crunching tackle out on the right wing. He raced down the flank until he was about 25 yards from the goal line but still tight to the wing when he whipped in a cross-come-shot that completely deceived visiting keeper Tom Whittaker as the ball floated into the very top corner at the far post as it dipped suddenly. The visitors won another corner on 28 minutes but nothing was forthcoming from it before Liam Wilkinson took a 31st minute free-kick which was headed clear as was a follow-up cross back into the box. Two minutes later a quickly taken free-kick was rolled short and from the cross to the fa post Tony Russon nodded down to skipper Ben Perks who blazed just over. A Shifnal corner on 42 minutes brought a short routine, but the cross was headed over. Bourne then saved at the expense of a corner on 45 minutes but the flag-kick was wasted as it drifted behind the goal.
HT WILLENHALL TOWN 1-0 SHIFNAL TOWN
The visitors made a change at the break, bringing on Saimons Burksaitisand he was in action from the start as his dangeous cross was well cleared. On 52 minutes The Lockmen fashioned a shooting opportunity for Mark Habbershaw, but he was flagged off-side. Shifnal had a free-kick in a central position a minute later, but debutant, Clayton Peddie, a recent signing from Bilston, headed clear. Habbershaw then headed a corner wide on 55 minutes for The Lockmen before a free-kick at the other end was cleared two minutes later. There was a double booking on 59 minutes when Sam Wilde produced a late tackle from behind on Lockmen sub Kyle Thompson, who was booked for his reaction. The visitors had a couple of corners but these proved no danger as they were easily dispatched upfield. Whittaker then made a good block from a header from a 69th minute corner before the home side doubled their advantage three minutes later. Perks played an astute ball from midfield which found Habbershaw in space, he was able to tee up Brook for a shot which was blocked but the ball spun to an unmarked Habbershaw who tucked home goal number seven for the season. Thompson volleyed over two minutes later before the visitors pulled a goal back with their first serious attempt at goal on 76 minutes. Again there appeared no danger when the ball dropped to Shifnal sub Jeffrey Agyeman 25 yards from goal , but he turned and hit a sweet first time shot which flew into the net. However, The Lockmen appeared to have put the game to bed with three minutes left when Wilkinson’s determined run saw him beat three players before he checked his run and chipped the ball to the far post where Thompson was all alone and he finished easily. The visitors won a corner after being awarded a soft free-kick with a minute left, but again, Bourne cleared comfortably, before the ball was fired back in and deflected for another corner. With the game now in stoppage-time a brilliant ball forward found sub Josh Annakin in space and his first-time shot from thirty yards was half stopped by the keeper ten yards from his line as he was almost caught out. He reacted brilliantly to grab the ball from another Willenhall sub, Remie Birch, who looked likeliest to reach the ball first and fire at an unguarded net. The final action saw Willenhall threaten a fourth from a corner three minutes into overtime, however, it was hoofed upfield and away from danger.
Match report by Chris Burton.