The Lockmen slipped to bottom place as their depleted squad was no match for previous incumbents Wren’s Nest in what would prove to be Joe Ball’s final game in charge.
With no available keeper, Ryan O’Brien volunteered his services and proved quite capable apart from one glaring mistake. The homesters attacked from the start and won a first minute corner only to see Chris Pike fire wide. On seven minutes it was Pike who broke the deadlock when he headed home a left wing cross, O’Brien failing to get a hand on the ball although it appeared to be at him. The Lockmen threatened on 11 minutes when a clever break set up Jake Morgan. Unfortunately, the Willenhall skipper was dispossessed as he shaped to shoot. Jake Sheward was high and wide a minute later for Wren’s. The visitors then won a corner after Tom Pemberton set up Jamal Jakeman, the little winger saw his shot deflected wide. The hosts had a corner of their own on 19 minutes but Pemberton did well to harrass, win and then break with the ball. O’Brien was forced to charge out of goal on 25 minutes and it was enough to ensure that Pike lobbed carelessly wide when clean through. Pike was then high and wide on 35 minutes before Wren’s doubled their lead two minutes later. A clever ball through the defence left Josh Taylor in the clear and he rounded O’Brien before rolling home. The Lockmen threatened on 39 minutes with a corner which was scrambled clear and then through a Jake Sharman free-kick three minutes before the break, Cory Ensor heading ust over. Jakeman then won a flag-kick which was cleared before Morgan flashed an effort over on 43 minutes as The Reds attempted to cut the deficit before the break.
HT WREN’S NEST 2-0 WILLENHALL TOWN
O’Brien was certainly on his game after the break with two quick dashes off his line to grab the ball under pressure from the home strike force. On 53 minutes he then produced a fine save to claw the ball around the post at the expense of a corner. Willenhall sub Carl Guinn then hit a fierce shot just wide on 62 minutes before Jakeman charged forward four minutes later before setting up Morgan who was unlucky when his effort was blocked and deflected back to the keeper. Guinn was proving a real handful for the hosts and his clever play won a corner on 71 minutes. After the dead ball in was half cleared, the same player sent an effort fizzing just over. It was game over on 76 minutes however when a long ball forward saw O’Brien reach comfortably, only to see his fierce clearance smack against the head of the onrushing Pike and ricochet back into the net. With seven minutes left it was 4-0 when another long ball forward allowed Taylor to easily net. The Lockmen never gave up and Ryan Dillon was denied by a goal-line clearance on 87 minutes. From the resultant corner Sharman then rattled the bar before Morgan was denied on 90 minutes by a good save.