With injuries and unavailabilities biting, The Lockmen saw their second-half performance fall well short as tiredness appeared to take its toll.
The home side were first to show and a second minute corner was easily cleared by the visiting back line.before Tyrone Clark-O’Connell fired a yard high and wide a minute later. The Lockmen forced their first corner from their first attack on five minutes when Matt Bayliss picked out Damian Wood on the right-hand side and from his cross Amari Shaw, on his debut, forced a corner. Willenhall attacked a minute later this time Shaw was crowded out and the ball cleared. With seven minutes played Luke Shearing was forced to head a dangerous long ball clear. Ryan Jones threatened next for Darlo when his shot on nine minutes was straight at the keeper before Danny Mayne fired into the side-netting as the hosts continued to press. Connor Fellows saw his free-kick deflected wide for a wasted corner on 19 minutes before Darlo saw a free-kick five minutes later hammered high over from just outside the left-hand side of the penalty area. The Reds had a free-kick and a couple of corners as they looked for a goal but these were easily dealt with. The home side finally broke the deadlock on 34 minutes when the ball ran loose from a tackle and Leon Taylor picked out Clark-O’Connell with a threaded pass to allow him to allow him to run on and fire home. He was through on goal a minute later, again from a Taylor pass, this time, however, he could only find the side-netting. Willenhall had a free-kick on 42 minutes which was headed to home keeper Ryan Pratt before Cory Ensor conceded a corner, heading behind a dangerous cross, from the next flag-kick, Clark-O’Connell curled an effort onto the post. Steve Stearn broke and threatened before a fine sliding tackle denied him a strike on goal. Louis Leach then fed Shaw on 45 minutes but he fired over
HT DARLASTON TOWN (1874) 1-0 WILLENHALL TOWN
The Lockmen started brightly after the break with a corner on 47 minutes before Shaw was crowded out before he could shoot a minute later. Four minutes later Shaw broke quickly down the right and put in a dangerous cross only to find no support in the box. This bright spell came to an abrupt end on 54 minutes when Taylor swept home after Alex Causton had broke down the right. A break a minute later saw Stearn cut into the box from the right, unfortunately, his cross hit the first defender. On 62 minutes Lockmen keeper Shearing made a hash of a clearance but redeemed himself when he did brilliantly to touch over Mayne’s strike. Darlo won a couple of corners, the second from a free-kick deflecting off the wall from Clark-O’Connell. Alex Solomon then forced another save from Shearing on 64 minutes. Five minutes later Mayne curled home from a left wing move after The Lockmen lost possession again. Shaw was denied by a block for the visitors on seventy minutes before Mark Swann had time and space to bring down a cross and turn in the box under no pressure before he fired high into the net five minutes later. Swann headed high over on 84 minutes before Damian Wood brought an outstanding save from Pratt in the home goal, his ferocious strike was brilliantly tipped away. With the game entering the last minute, substitute Ryan Kingdon finished off a quick break from halfway before man of the match Taylor latched onto a long ball forward from ex-Red Gurdeep Wilkhoo two minutes into stoppage-time. He still had plenty to do, beating two defenders before turning Willenhall skipper Rich Wharton before netting from a tight angle.