The Lockmen grabbed a scarcely deserved point with a stoppage-time leveller, but it could so easily have been three points as Brandon McElany produced a superb save to deny Josh Annakin.
The Lockmen were first on the attack when a ball down the inside right channel almost found Kyle Thompson but he was beaten to the ball by the home keeper, who conceded a corner. Mark Habbershaw took short and clever play between Remie Birch, Thompson and Tony Russon set the former up for a shot which was cleared. The home side threatened on nine minutes when The Lockmen saw debutant keepoer Jake Smith drop a cross from the Stone right, Curtis Ellis half blocked before the keeper dropped on the ball. Habbershaw then produced a dangerous cross which flew across the face of goal with no other Willenhall player anywhere near. Stone saw an effort fly wide on 21 minutes before Liam Wilkinson played a clever ball in behind the home defence only to see the keeper beat Habbershaw to the ball. The Lockmen saw a header go wide from a 26th minute free-kick before an excellent Curtis Ellis cross again saw nobody in the danger zone to apply a finish as both sides huffed and puffed without really threatening. On 32 minutes Malaki Norford raced towards goal after a quick break but Clayton Peddie cleared up the danger. With three minutes to the break Thompson did well again down the right wing to engineer a cross which saw Perks curl a clever shot just onto the roof of the net from twelve yards. Jake Smith was then forced into his first serious save a minute later, doing well to get down low to push an effort from Matt Thomas around the post. The corner was played into the danger area but a poor header flew high and wide from a good position.
HT STONE OLD ALLEYNIANS 1-0 WILLENHALL TOWN
If either side wanted to get a positive result they would have to step up the ante dramatically after the break. The Lockmen won a corner and a free-kick in the first ten minutes after the break but these came to nothing. The visitors certainly looked the more determined and were certainly getting stuck into the tackles and running hard for each other but with no end product looking likely. Thomas broke from just inside the Willenhall half but couldn’t beat Smith with his effort on 56 minutes. Finally the home side got the breakthrough on 69 minutes their efforts probably deserved with the first decent piece of football in the game. The ball was played from the centre-circle to the right and Norford latched onto the ball before skinning his marker, evading a second tackle before cutting back inside towards goal, making towards the goal-line before firing a fierce effort across Smith and in off the far post from a tight angle. Thomas then put an effort high over on 72 minutes. Ten minutes later an effort from Brook was straight at the keeper, Willenhall’s first effort on target of the second-half. With a minute to go Wilkinson was just off target with a twenty yard drive after good work from Chadd Birch and Tony Russon. A minute into stoppage-time and The Lockmen got a barely deserved eqauliser when a ball through from Russon found Chadd Birch on the edge of the box, he took a couple of strides goalwards and fired home under the keeper as the defence appeared to be waiting for a pass to the right. Two minutes later, unbelievably, The Lockmen almost won it as Russon slid a pass through into the inside right channel where sub Josh Annakin pounced, he again took a couple of paces goal wards before unleashing a fierce low drive which McElany somehow managed to divert wide of his near post with a foot. There was enough time for the corner to be taken and the header from the ball into the box was only six inches off target with the keeper, for once, well beaten.