|February 12, 2022||3:00 pm||MFL Premier||2021-22|
Midland Football League
Saturday 12th February 2022
Tividale 1-3 AFC Wulfrunians
The Wulfs are top dogs
Once again Tividale’s unbeaten home record was on the line as the team holding the leagues joint second position arrived at The Beeches. Also, according to the record books the visitors have not beaten Tividale in a league fixture since 2009. So, with their current form they must have fancied their chances to end these two runs.
With Darragh Bustin and Brad Welding having served their one match game in the 1-1 midweek draw against Stourport Swifts. Manager Dave King brought them straight back into the starting eleven, replacing the departing Hayden Reeves and Dan Smith. Also returning was Jason Wood who had recovered from his back injury and he came in for Lewis McPike.
There is a saying that you would rather concede a goal in the first minute than the last. Well, it does not feel too great after 15 seconds. From AFC’s kick off the ball is played up field Tividale’s Dan Bryson and AFC striker Aaron Bishop both challenge for the ball. It lands nicely for AFC’s Dominic Dell on the edge of the Tividale area who fired his shot into the bottom corner giving home keeper Peter Hawk no chance.
Tividale had a couple of early chances to get back on level terms. The first after 4 minutes, when Curtis Cocking found Darragh Bustin but his shot was saved by AFC keeper Tom Hayward and on 7 minutes Bustin again failed to trouble Hayward, this time from a free kick. With AFC’s next foray in the Tividale half they doubled their lead. Again, a ball that Bryson and Bishop challenged for. This time the bounce of the ball favoured the striker and he was also fortunate to get away with what looked like him using his arm to get the ball under control. But after that there was nothing wrong with his calm finish, steering the ball past a helpless Hawk.
The visitors were now all over the home side and Tividale’s defence were just about keeping them at bay. A Ty Knight cross was headed over the bar on 14 minutes by Dell. Then Jake Webb retrieved an over hit cross on 16 minutes, worked his way into the Tividale area but shot wide. Tividale had a chance to pull one back in the 19th minute, but Matt Hunt could not get his header from a Bustin free kick on target.
Back came AFC on 32 minutes. A Dell cross was headed down for Webb by Bishop, but his shot crashed off the crossbar. Webb was again in the thick of the action four minutes later with two efforts. The first after he slalomed into the box but his shot was parried away by Hawk. The ball came out to Bishop who found Webb again but this time his shot was blocked. As the half came to a close, Simon Williams then played in a dangerous cross for the visitors that Bryson somehow got a foot to and diverted it out for a corner. That was the end of the first half action and there was no doubt which side needed the half time break and which one didn’t as AFC dominated the half.
Half time: Tividale 0-2 AFC Wulfrunians
Tividale made a change at half time with Dan Smith replacing Ethan Muckley in attack, as they attempted to get back into the game. And they had the first chance of the half. After some decent work by Bustin in the 48th minute he found Luke Carter on the penalty spot, but the midfielder could not generate the power in his shot to trouble Hayward. Tividale were back in the game a minute later Smith diverted the ball into the path of Cocking about 25 yards from goal and he just let fly, it flew past Hayward and into the back of the net.
Although Tividale were much better, AFC were still creating chances of their own and a Dell header from a Brad Sharman corner in the 54th minute went straight into the arms of Hawk. A minute later AFC had an effort scrambled away after it looked as though it came off the crossbar. Then a Jack Rowley throw found Dell but he shot wide.
Tividale now had more of the possession and were pressing the AFC defence, but they could not get to work Hayward. A ball over the top on 65 minutes for Elliott Hartley to get on the end of, is too long and it run through to Hayward. The Keeper then has a problem with a Welding free kick but he gathers at the second attempt. On 72 minutes, AFC only clear a corner to the edge of the box and a Wood effort takes a deflection and makes Haywards save a lot easier.
Hayward then makes a brilliant save from point blank range in the 78th minute, getting across his 6-yard box in denying Smith who must have thought it was a certain goal. Tividale have a penalty appeal turned down in the 80th minute when the ball seemed to come off an AFC hand from a Tividale corner. Tividale were now throwing everything at the AFC defence but they stood firm and denied the home side with any clear-cut chances as they played out the final few minutes.
With Tividale still pressing they were always liable to get caught on the counter and that is what happened. A Tividale error as the 90 minutes was up and Webb is away zoning in on the Tividale goal. As Hawk came charging out to cut down the angle, Webb unselfishly put the ball into the path of AFC substitute Jack Downing who rolled the ball into an empty net.
Throughout the game there were some white-knuckle tackles from both sides. Most of them may have resulted in cards on another day, but this referee seemed to want to always play the advantage, even after some seriously poor challenges from both sides.
In the end Tividale were a lot better in the second period, but AFC dug deep and defended well and were worthy winners based on their dominant first half.
Full time: Tividale 1-3 AFC Wulfrunians
Tividale: – 1. Peter Hawk, 2. Tom Hurdman, 3. Brad Welding, 4. Luke Carter, 5. Dan Bryson 6. Matt Hunt, 7. Darragh Bustin, 8. Curtis Cocking, 9. Ethan Muckley (12. Dan Smith 46), 10. Jason Wood (14. Lewis McPike 83) 11. Elliott Hartley
Unused Subs: – 15. Harvey Portman, 16. TJ Munthali, 17. Joe Burroughs.