Reports 1st Team 11/12

 
 

Boldmere St Micheal Away

A BECKLEY BRACE PROPELS TOWN TO A FINAL DAY WIN   

Boldmere St Michaels         -      1      -      O'Neill  68   

Sratford Town                      -     2      -      Beckley  (2)  26 & 53           

Town's leading scorer Mykel Beckley took his seasonal tally to 21 as he struck once in each half to enable Town to sign off the current term in some style with their ninth Baker Joiner MFA away win of the campaign and a final finishing position of 8th.

But when the season's Baker Joiner MFA fixture list was published back in August many people would probably have anticipated that this final day match would be between two sides jostling at the top of the table rather than both being marooned in anonymous mid-table spots.

After all the Mikes and Town had finished third and fifth respectively at the end of last season and had then faced each other in the Polymac Services League Cup Final when Town triumphed on a memorable night at the Banks Stadium.

And at the beginning of this campaign both sides  -  who famously are the only founder members of the MFA to have retained unbroken membership  -  were expected to carry that momentum into the new season and at last mount a serious Championship challenge.

But it hasn't worked out like that, and on Saturday at the Trevor Brown Memorial Ground it was simply a case of fulfilling the fixture to complete the season's programme and head off for the summer break to hope for something better next time round.

Ironically Town were more or less at full strength with Stuart Herlihy, Chris Murphy and James Travis all returning to the starting line-up in place of Mark Faulds, Joss Holford and Jamie Molyneux who dropped to the subs bench.

On a well worn pitch softened by the recent wet spell both sides made a subdued start, and the first serious attempt on goal didn't come until the tenth minute when former Town favourite Jozsef Jakab   -   although looking suspiciously offside  -  broke away down the left to slide the ball inside to the unmarked Andy Keighley.  But with time and space to at least test Town keeper Sam Brady all Smith could do was drag his shot carelessly wide.

But from then on Town began to boss the meaningful possession, and the openings soon followed.

A Ricky Baker free kick was tipped over by Mikes keeper Chris Butler and when the resulting corner was not properly cleared Travis returned the ball into the six yard box and Andy Gregory headed against the post from point blank range.

Butler then had to come out of his area to head clear as Beckley chased down a through ball from Travis, and from another Town corner a Herlihy shot was cleared off the line by Peter Gould.

And in the 26th minute Town made their pressure count by deservedly going in front.   Baker began the move down the left neatly finding Murphy whose pass inside somehow bobbled its way through to Beckley virtually on the penalty spot and he coolly despatched it into the bottom corner of the net with the minimum of fuss.

The Mikes responded with a fiercely struck volley from Joseph Smith which was spectacularly saved by Brady diving to his left.  Soon after the tricky Simeon Tulloch jinked his way in from the left only for his cross to be headed clear by Gregory, but with Liam Reynolds and Michael Hayden beavering away purposefully in midfield Town remained comfortably in control and reached the interval with their lead intact. 

Half Time     -      Boldmere St Michaels   0      Stratford Town     1     

Faulds replaced the struggling Murphy at the restart and immediately got into the game by running on to  a Travis pass down the right to whip in a centre only for Mikes skipper Neil Watkins to take it off Beckley's toe.

But Beckley's second goal was only delayed as shortly after Gregory launched a free kick upfield from inside the Town half which was misjudged by Liam Morrall and seized on by Town's striker who ran on to hit a perfectly placed shot across the advancing Butler and into the far corner of the net.

A couple of minutes later Town were almost three up when Beckley crossed from the right and  Hayden's shot rattled against the post and ricocheted away for a goal kick.

But the Mikes were not done with and with Kirk Smith on for Keighley they started to see more of the ball.  Town were forced to defend deeper and it was no surprise when the Mikes pulled a goal back in the 68th minute.

Ex-Town full back Richard Robinson claimed the "assist"  as he squared the ball inside to Lawrence O'Neill on the edge of the penalty area, and he swivelled to hit a crisp effort well wide of Brady's right hand to put his side right back into  the game.

So far the combined efforts of Gregory and Dan Parker had kept Jakab pretty quiet, but with 15 minutes to go he showed how dangerous he could be with a typical shot on the turn which was deflected away off Baker. 

A few minutes later he went even closer with a free kick from 25 yards out which clipped Brady's left upright on its way behind, and as the Mikes continued to press for the equaliser Brsady went full length to his right to push a useful effort from Kirk Smith round the opposite post.

But Town managed to absorb the pressure and in the closing minutes had chances to extend their lead.  Herlihy and Molyneux both had on-target attempts held by Butler, and with practically the last kick of the match  -  and the season  -  Molyneux shot against Butler with the ball spinning away to safety off the keeper's outstretched leg.

So after 54 matches Town's campaign came to an end.  The F A Cup provided the highlights with the successes against Newcastle Town and Stafford Rangers, but the League again left everyone frustrated.

The hoped for promotion challenge never materialised as Morton Titterton's side lost four of their opening six matches, and it was always going to be "mission impossible" from then on. 

TOWN : Brady, Dyke, Baker, Reynolds, Gregory, Parker, Herlihy, Murphy (Faulds 46), Travis (Molyneux 81), Beckley, Hayden..    Unused Subs   -   Holford, Jervis & Greensall (GK)

BOLDMERE :  Butler, Robinson, Gould, Watkins, Morrall, Lewis, Tulloch, J Smith, O'Neill (Pitt 82), Jakab, Keighley (K Smith 54).    Unused Subs   -   O'Reilly & Weller

Attendance      -      96                                                                                

Town  Man of the Match    -   Liam Reynolds

The View From The Dug-Out  -  Morton Titterton reflects on the closing match of a season which fell below expectations

"It was a typical end-of-season game.  We were the better side in the first half, but they came back strongly after the break and we did well to battle through to the win.

Disappointingly though the season as a whole never really took off as we made such a poor start after finishing the previous season on a high. But that has taught me a lot  -  it is said that you learn more from losing than winning  -  , and I'm determined to make the necessary changes so that we can be ready for the challenge of the next campaign."

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

Town          -    GA  13  OT  9  HW  2   CW 5  FC   9  OS  3  YC 0  RC  0

Boldmere    -    GA 14  OT  8   HW 1    CW  7  FC 10  OS  6  YC 1  RC  0

Town Yellow Cards           -    None

Boldmere Yellow Cards     -    K Smith

Match Report by Bryan Hale
 
 
 
 

Ellesmere Rangers Home

TOWN BOW OUT ON A SAD NOTE  

Stratford Town            -      0

Ellesmere Rangers      -      2    -     Williams (pen)  63     Ford  66

It was almost a case of saving the worst until last as Town turned in a totally insipid performance to limp to their seventh home Baker Joiner MFA defeat of the season on Tuesday evening in their final fixture at the DCS of the current campaign.

Going into this game the recent form of the two sides could not have been more contrasting, with Town having won their last four whereas the Rangers had only taken two points from their last eight outings and had plummeted down towards the relegation zone.

And Town had eased their way to a 4-1 victory in the reverse fixture only ten days ago, but they never looked likely to repeat that result here as the Rangers were clearly "up for it" and basically outfought Town for the entire 90 minutes.

Team changes were undoubtedly a factor.  Town were missing James Travis (ill) and Chris Murphy (working), and probably most significantly Chris Lait who had not recovered from the kick on the calf which forced him off on Saturday.  The Rangers side had four different faces from the previous meeting, and they were certainly a much stronger proposition as a result.

The match kicked off a quarter of an hour late due to the Rangers encountering traffic problems on their trek from Shropshire, but that didn't seem to bother them as they made a bright start and gave Town a warning of what was to come in just the fifth minute when a lofted pass from Dale Williams sent Chris Cathrall clear.

Reaching the penalty area he only had keeper Sam Brady to beat but Town's Youth team keeper came out on top with a smart save down to his left to smother the shot.

Nevertheless the pattern of the match had been set with the Rangers looking the most threatening of the two sides as the Town defence struggled to cope with the pace and persistence of the lively Williams.

Michael Hayden shot wide from distance and the Rangers keeper Dave Maguire twice had to sprint out of his area to clear long balls intended for Mykel Beckley, but by the midway point of the half it was clear that Town needed to up their tempo if they were going to extend their current winning run.

And in a ten minute spell around the half hour mark they looked as if they might do exactly that.  Hayden was not far away with a well struck effort from 25 yards, and then a Joss Holford cross from the right caused mayhem in the Rangers penalty area.

Maguire was only able to palm it away and from the loose ball both Andy Gregory and Jamie Molyneux  -  making a second senior team start in Travis's absence  -  had shots blocked at point blank range. 

A couple of minutes later Molyneux worked his way to the byline and squared the ball inside to Beckley but again a defender was in the way of the shot, while soon after Molyneux showed his promise by turning past Craig Farr to fire in a low drive which unfortunately was straight at the well positioned Maguire.

But that was as good as it was going to get for Morton Titterton's side, and the Rangers came close to taking the lead just before the break when Williams was allowed too much space and his fiercely struck shot was half blocked by the covering Tom Dyke with Brady then able to complete the save.

Half Time     -      Stratford Town   0     Ellesmere Rangers      0  

As in the first half  the Rangers made and missed an early chance to edge ahead.  This time dangerman Williams was the culprit as Ashley Wells floated over a perfectly flighted cross from the right touchline and the Rangers striker somehow glanced a free header wide from six yards out.

Town responded with Hayden fizzing a header narrowly over from a Holford centre, but it was already developing into a frustrating night for the Town supporters as the game became increasingly scrappy.

Then just past the hour mark and pretty much out of nowhere the Rangers broke the stalemate.  Rob Dean launched a long pass into the Town penalty area and when Williams went down as he tussled for the ball with the advancing Brady the referee pointed to the spot.  It seemed a generous decision but that didn't concern Williams who picked himself up to coolly send Brady the wrong way and propel his side towards the three points they needed to ensure their MFA survival.

Three minutes later that survival was guaranteed as the Rangers went two up courtesy of an uncharacteristic error from Ricky Baker. Intercepting a left wing cross from Cathrall some eight yards out he inexplicably dithered as he went to clear it and the alert Andy Ford seized his chance to nip in and lash the ball past the helpless Brady.

Town tried to get back into the game but without any real conviction.  A Gregory header was easily held by Maguire who soon after had more difficulty in shovelling a Holford volley round his left hand post, but with the Rangers now content to sit back and protect their lead the match  -  and the season  -  more or less faded away.

The final whistle was greeted with a resigned silence from the crowd who by then were digesting the results from the Nou Camp and Villa Park  -  it certainly was a sorry and depressing end to this term's first team action at the DCS. 

TOWN : Brady, Dyke, Baker, Reynolds, Gregory, Parker, Faulds, Holford (Binns 75), Molyneux,  Beckley,  Hayden.    Unused Subs    -   Herlihy, Jervis, Fondjour & Greensall (GK)

ELLESMERE : Maguire, Wells, Dean, Ford, Farr, Jones, Towers, Leonard, Williams (Beech 79), Price, Cathrall (Lloyd 84).     Unused  Subs  -  Corns & Burton.

Attendance      -   126                                                                           

Marstons Town  Man of the Match    -   Tom Dyke

The View From The Dug-Out  -  Morton Titterton accepts that his side were totally out of sorts

"We were very flat tonight, and it was dreadfully disappointing to end our home fixtures with that sort of display.  Without Chris Lait and James Travis we lacked penetration, but even though Ellesmere turned up with a much changed line-up from the game over there we should have been capable of doing a lot better."

Match Stats by Rod Abrahams

Town           -    GA  16  OT  7  HW  0   CW 4  FC 12  OS  2  YC 2  RC  0

Ellesmere    -    GA  10  OT  6  HW  0    CW  3  FC 15  OS  1  YC 0  RC  0

Town Yellow Cards            -     Brady & Holford

Ellesmere Yellow Cards     -     None

Match Report by Bryan Hale