After such a dissappointing performance in the week, The Lockmen produced possibly their best 90 minutes of the season to pick a first ever win in five visits to a decent Wellington side.
With the team minibus getting caught in traffic they had little time to prepare before the game, but it was the home side in a jam early on. A great move in the first minute saw the unfortunate Kyle Thompson let a great chance go astray when a cross bounced off him in a dangerous position in the area. However, only ninety seconds had elapsed before the visitors opened the scoring. A quick clearance into the Willenhall box saw the ball rolled back out to Clayton Peddie. His perfectly weighted long ball over the defence saw the returning Chadd Birch latch on quickly before he comprehensively fired past Matt Apperley. On seven minutes it could have been two when a weighted free-kick to the far post found skipper Ben Perks, who could only plant his header into the hands of the keeper at the far post. Welly won a corner on 13 minutes which was cleared before the returning cross was blocked. A minute later and Lockmen man of the match Chris Bourne produced a wonderful double save, initially punching away the ball into the area before getting down quickly to save the follow up shot. The Lockmen then wasted corners on 16 and twenty minutes. A deep cross to the far post seconds later found Perks, but his header back across goal was just wide. Willenhall got a deserved second goal on 29 minutes and this time Chadd Birch was provider when he was found on the right and his low ball into the six yard box just beyond the far post found player-manager Mark Habbershaw who steadied himself before firing low past the keeper despite a brave defensive attempt to stop him. The home side had a couple of corners and the second of these saw former Willenhall player Will Perkins put a free header just over on 40 minutes.
HT WELLINGTON FC 0-2 WILLENHALL TOWN
The Lockmen again took control from the restart, just missing the target with a 46th minute free-kick before extending their advantage on 47 minutes. A Chadd Birch cross from the right was half cleared but still found its way to Kyle Thompson just beyond the far post. Under pressure as the keeper rushed out to narrow the angle, he fired through the narrow gap between post and keeper and into the back of the net. It was nearly four on the fifty minute mark when a cleverly weighted ball from Perks was fractionally too far ahead of Habbershaw. This was to be his last involvement as a nasty clash of heads on 53 minutes between himself and Nick Williams of the home side left Williams concussed and Perks bleeding from a wound which required specialist treatment. Welly won a free kick on 57 minutes, producing a corner which was headed clear. The loss of their skipper in turn appeared to unsettle the balance in the midfield and the home side started to look dangerous. First Dave Price fired high over for Wellington on 59 minutes before team-mate Paul Jones saw his attempt on goal blocked three minutes later. The home side pulled themselves back into the game on 66 minutes when the unfortunate Clayton Peddie let a ball run over his foot and the home side’s Josh Hunt needed no second invitation to race through on goal before beating Bourne with a fierce shot after 66 minutes. Moments later a repeat mistake by another visiting defender saw sub Nick Britton clean through on goal. However, Bourne produced a brilliant save to prevent a second Welly goal. Peddie then did well to concede only a corner from another dangerous cross in. Britton skied his header from the flag-kick. On 69 minutes Lockmen sub Liam Bood, on his debut after recently signing from Shifnal, almost stretched the lead when his calm attempted lob from more than more than forty yards almost embarrassed Apperley after a hurried clearance. However, on 71 minutes, the home side were right back in the game. With the official ignoring a blatant foul in the build-up, a ball in from the right found an unmarked Hunt, his marker still sat on the ground, did well to control and fire past Bourne. With eight minutes remaining, Bood could have made the game safe, but Apperley produced a great save to deny a fourth goal for Willenhall. The Lockmen came back strong with Josh Annakin and Habbershaw both forcing good saves to prevent further Lockmen goals. However, the visitors had their hearts in their mouths when, with seven minutes left to play, Paul Jones was found completely unmarked in the six yard box just beyond the far post and with an open goal to aim at, he inexplicably missed his kick completely. The home side then had two late corners before Willenhall hearts were close to breaking on 89 minutes when Bourne fumbled a cross but somehow juggled the ball and caught it before a home player could pounce. The final act saw Remie Birch fire high and wide two minutes into stoppage-time after a sustained period of keep ball on the corner flag wound the clock down.
Match Report by Chris Burton