The Lockmen will wonder how they lost this game, considering the balance of chances between the two sides.
The Lockmen had all of the early possession but all they had to show for their bright start was a seventh minute corner, which was cleared. The Robins then took the lead the first time they entered The Lockmen half of the pitch. They won a free-kick on 11 minutes to the left of the penalty area and when the ball was fired in it was well blocked but the loose ball dropped for Dominic Hill and the Stourport loanee fired home. Three minutes later, debutant Harrison Barrett let fly with a fierce effort that was brilliantly touched over by Dudley keeper Ashley Horton. However, The Lockmen leveled a minute later when the corner was partially cleared to Kyle Thompson and when he swung over an inviting cross Micel Barrett was the first to react and he headed home comfortably. On 22 minutes another Willenhall attack involved Thompson, however, when the ball was crossed in from the right, he sliced his shot well wide. Two minutes later Cavan Ellis pushed forwards but when the ball was returned to him he couldn’t quite control the ball and his effort was wide of the target. With 27 minutes gone Horton did well to grab Liam Wilkinson’s clever ball through ahead of Mark Habbershaw to thwart any chance of a goal before he almost cost his side a goal a minute later as he dallied in attempting to let a ball run out of play and he was robbed by Thompson. However, there was nobody in support and the keeper merely grabbed Thompson’s ball back across the box with no threat. On the half hour mark The Robins keeper then kept his side ahead when he managed to block a low strike from Chadd Birch before belying his size to bounce up and deny Remie Birch from the rebound at the expense of a corner. The corner however, was easily headed away from danger. There were ten minutes to play before the break when Chadd Birch got free in the centre from a Habbershaw pass and his clever lob looked like a goal all the way, only for the ball to drop an inch over the bar rather than under. Play was stopped on 37 minutes when an off the ball incident was spotted by an assistant, and both Barrett and the visitor’s Matt Pinder found their way into the referee’s note-book. Habbershaw then received an inviting ball a minute to half-time but as he shaped to shoot he slipped, but there was still enough power to force the overworked Horton into a good save. On half-time one last cross into the box was well caught by the keeper.
HT WILLENHALL TOWN 1-1 DUDLEY TOWN
The Lockmen continued their bright attacking play after the break and Chadd Birch forced an excellent stop on the line from Horton before the visitors took the lead on 51 minutes when the defence backed away from Robins captain Shaun Devenport as he ran towards goal, he fired across Chris Bourne and into the corner to restore their lead. A Barrett cross two minutes later saw Habbershaw fire wide before they forced a corner on 58 minutes. Another followed sixty seconds later and this time Thompson saw his effort well blocked by the onrushing Dudley keeper. On the hour The Robins had yet another remarkable escape when a defender badly sliced a clearance and substitute Lee Jukes did brilliantly to somehow keep the ball out of the goal, scrambling back and somehow deflecting the ball wide of the goal. The Reds were made to pay for their catalogue of misses when Devenport pounced on a poor piece of control at the back and raced clear to make it 3-1 on 66 minutes. Three minutes later and the visitors finally forced a save from the under-worked Chris Bourne, he grabbed an attempted lob which hadn’t got enough height on to clear him. On 77 minutes Lockmen sub Matt Dorgan fired in a fierce effort which was well stopped before The Robins wrapped up the game on 84 minutes when a ball in from the right after a quick break saw Devenort net his hat-trick. Willenhall weren’t quite finished and Dorgan hit a superb strike from the restart that fairly whistled past Horton with five minutes remaining. Alex Mallen then hit the inside of the post for the visitors on 88 minutes before he wrapped up the scoring a minute into stoppage-time when he was allowed to run at goal as the defence again shied away from a tackle and he fired home.