The Lockmen eventually edged into the first round of the FA Vase, but hosts Blidworth Welfare fought them every inch of the way in a highly competitive game in Nottinghamshire. The visitors started on the front foot from the very beginning, Danny Hemmings seeing his fifth minute effort blocked by a defender. Seconds later Mikey Clark delivered a pin-point cross to the far post where Craig Sudlow rose to knock the ball back for Callum Foster who shimmied past two defenders before seeing a third whip the ball off his toes as he was about to shoot. Skipper Paul Holden fired just over from thirty yards when the ball was cleared to him before Willenhall won an eighth minute corner after Clark attempt a shot which was blocked by a defender. The subsequent corner was half punched clear before a foul was given in Welfare’s favour. Clark was booked for dangerous play when a defender tried to head a low cross clear and was caught by a boot. On 14 minutes The Lockmen won a corner when a Hemmings free-kick was headed behind after the first of many fouls on the tricky winger Foster. Hemmings took the corner also, but this was taken by keeper Sam Henderson under no pressure. The home side finally had an attack on 18 minutes, winning a corner on the Willenhall left hand side but a header flicked the ball onto the outside of a post and behind. Holden headed the next Blidworth corner clear on twenty minutes before the game dropped into a routine of Willenhall giving the ball away after being pressurised but Welfare being unable to create any chances. Foster won a corner on 29 minutes and Hemmings swung an effort in which was half cleared as far as Foster but his effort flew high. Blidworth again had a spell of possession to no avail, Ben Holden remained unemployed as plenty of moves towards The Lockmen area ended either with a shot well off target or wasted corners. With seven minutes to the break Sudlow fired high and wide from a free-kick, before Callum Foster went on a jinking run past a couple of defenders three minutes later. Unfortunately for The Lockmen, his perfectly weighted pass to Sudlow was returned perfectly only for the home keeper to sprint out quickly to collect and avoid any danger. After 43 minutes Sudlow was chopped down by Ben Bowring, who was booked for his troubles. Sudlow’s free-kick bounced off the wall to Tom Turner but his effort was wide. Graham Ashton then produced the perfectly timed tackle to deny a goal.
HT: BLIDWORTH WELFARE 0-0 WILLENHALL TOWN
The first action of a quiet start after the break saw Blidworth fire at goal but it was way wide on fifty minutes. The Town replaced Tom Turner with Damian Charie three minutes later before Ashton produced his second goal-saving tackle three minutes later. Ben Holden was finally forced into a save on 63 minutes when Liam Theakstone was played in free of the defence on the left hand side, however, he never looked like scoring as the keeper spread himself well and he caught the shot on the ground as he dropped down slightly to his left. The Welfare won a corner two minutes later which was cleared before Willenhall made a match-changing substitution on 69 minutes. Eddie Wilson replaced the tiring Matt Dorgan. Wilson’s first action since being carried off injured in the first minute of the season was to run at the centre of the Blidworth defence, drawing a free-kick thirty yards out for the late challenge. He promptly put the ball down, ran up, took aim and curled a quite delightful free-kick into the very top right hand corner of the keeper’s net with twenty minutes to play. Foster who had barely been seen after the break was replaced by Harry Rickus on 76 minutes. Rickus won a corner with ten minutes to play which Charie took, however it was blocked and eventually kicked clear after a couple of passes failed to produce the space for a shot. Four minutes later and Holden again denied Theakstone in a carbon-copy move, this time he stood up well to block the effort. The Lockmen settled the game with three minutes left when a high ball was flicked wide to Hemmings on the right, he raced towards the goal-line at speed before cutting the ball back hard and low at pace to the far-post where leading scorer Sudlow had the easy conversion from five yards into the unguarded net, undoubtedly the most important of his eight goals this season. Blidworth huffed and puffed, but apart from a Theakstone free-kick curled around the wall and into Holden’s midriff in the third and final minute of stoppage-time, The Lockmen held out for a hard fought but well deserved win.
FT: BLIDWORTH WELFARE 0-2 WILLENHALL TOWN
WILLENHALLL TOWN MoM GRAHAM ASHTON
WILLENHALL TOWN FC TEAM LINE-UP:-
1. Ben Holden,
2. Kingsley Burrows-Fields
3. Andre Calder,
4. Tom Turner (53min),
5. Graham Ashton,
6. Paul Holden (capt),
7. Danny Hemmings,
8. Mikey Clark,
9. Matt Dorgan (off 69min),
10. Craig Sudlow,
11. Callum Foster (off 76min).
12. Damian Charie (on 53min),
14. Harry Rickus (on 76min),
15. Steve Nurse,
16. Eddie Wilson (on 69min),
17. Scott Harris.
By Chris Burton – Match Secretary
Reproduction only by prior-consent of The Lockmen Limited t/a Willenhall Town FC.