FULL MATCH REPORT
The Lockmen were simply unstoppable as they withstood everything thrown at them to collect a first home league win, a first double of the season, and the plaudits of the visiting management. As the rain started driving down just before kick-off, it was the home side who attacked first when Jamel Fuller partook in one of his trademark thundering runs down the left hand side. His clever ball into the box picked out Steve Nurse who fired just over. Harry Rickus then set up Danny Hemmings with a pass to the left and his ball in was well claimed by visiting keeper Dominic Richards. On five minutes Mikey Clark, not for the last time this season, left three men trailing in his wake as clever foot movements allowed him to wriggle free to cross low for Nurse to fire goalwards. Unfortunately his effort was well blocked. Three minutes later and Sports were awarded a free-kick just outside the box. Skipper Luke Williams lined up the shot but the wall did its job, blocking, Jemaine MacFarlane followed up but fired well wide from a central position 18 yards out. Craig Tibbetts then hit a long range effort straight at Ben Holden on 13 minutes. Disaster struck The Reds two minutes later when a neat through ball picked out a forward and Holden raced out to meet him as the ball was flicked past him. With the ball running out of play there was a collision, a penalty and a red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity. With no reserve keeper on the bench Tom Turner came on for Rickus who had to be sacrificed and he donned the gloves. His first job after a hold up to prepare himself was to take a goal-kick after Williams’ penalty was hammered a yard over the cross-bar. Being a man light certainly didn’t appear to upset the rhythm of the game as The Lockmen continued to offer the main threat. On 20 minutes they won a corner which was followed by another as Clark’s fierce effort was deflected over. From the next kick skipper Paul Holden fired way over and the pressure was released. On 25 minutes The Lockmen were appealing for a penalty after Nurse was brought down, instead he was booked for simulation. MacFarlane fired wide again for Sports on 32 minutes as they tried to make the extra man count but Willenhall simply upped an already impressive work-rate still further. They were certainly getting plenty of joy attacking down the left as Fuller again left a couple of players behind with quick feet and a little burst of speed, and quick passing between him and Clark saw the latter fire off another effort which flew inches wide.
HT: WILLENHALL TOWN 0-0 DUDLEY SPORTS
The visitors couldn’t have made a better start to the second half. A free-kick on their right saw the ball played into the box where the ball was flicked onto the bar from a looping header that appeared to be going over, Tibbetts reacted quickest to bundle the loose ball home on 47 minutes. The Lockmen dug deeper and levelled on 50 minutes when Hemmings burst down the right and sent in a precision cross for Nurse to drill home via a slight deflection for a deserved goal. Matt Dove was the heart of the midfield for Willenhall and as the conditions made it harder and harder to keep upright, his impressive turn and control and passing range were too much for the visitors at times. Immediately after the goal one such move saw him race forwards down the right and pick out Matt Dorgan with his cross which saw the striker fire at Richards who fielded the ball well. Turner stood up well on 52 minutes to make his first save, and impressive it was too from the midfielder, doing enough to block and palm away for a defender to clear. Skipper Holden then went into the book, along with a Sports player, after he reacted to a late challenge and MacFarlane followed likewise for a very late challenge on Turner as he lead with a foot up. With nineteen minutes left to play The Lockmen grabbed a deserved lead. Again it was Dove who was the instigator as he glided over the boggy midfield surface before releasing an inch perfect pass outside to his right to Hemmings. The right-back had plenty to do but he tricked his way past the marker, cut towards the goal-line before suddenly unleashing a fierce effort from a tight angle that flew into the far corner of the net. With the conditions worsening by the minute Willenhall again increased their work-rate, chasing every ball down to ensure that the visitors simply didn’t have any time to pick a pass accurately, which allowed Town to keep attacking despite having played with a man down for an hour. Daniel Jarratt, on for Nurse, and Simon Laidley, replacing a clearly tired Clark, kept up the intensity, with the former working hard down the middle and left and Laidley willing to run at his marker down the right. One such chasing of a lost cause gave them a throw-in near the corner flag, which almost resulted in Dorgan getting on the end of a cross and with five minutes left Hemmings almost fashioned another goal similar to his earlier finish. With the game entering into the fourth of three minutes additional time Dorgan went into the book for one too many crunching tackles in a game that was fiercely competitive, occasionally feisty, but never dirty game. Finally the whistle sounded and a muddy battered and tired Willenhall side could take the plaudits from a first home league win.
FT: WILLENHALL TOWN 2-1 DUDLEY SPORTS
By Chris Burton – Match Secretary
Reproduction by prior-consent of The Lockmen Limited t/a Willenhall Town FC only