Cradley Town were looking to get a result yesterday against OJM Black Country at Beeches View Avenue to continue their excellent home form. The Hammers had won eight out of ten league matches at home coming into this one and were 2nd in the league with 39 points from 20 matches.
It’s been an excellent turnaround from Cradley who were battling relegation last season. They were in 20th with 14 points from 23 matches on Boxing Day last year which shows how far the club has come.
The Hammers have been one of the stories of the season in division one and finishing in the play offs would be an excellent season.
OJM were also looking to get a result yesterday to cement their position as play off chasers. The visitors have grown into the season and have gradually climbed up the league as the weeks have gone on. A key part of their success has been their defensive record which was the best in the league coming into this one with 19 goals conceded over 19 matches.
The atmosphere around Beeches View Avenue yesterday was relaxed and friendly with both sets of supporters looking forward to the match. The ground is full of character and is an excellent place to visitor for casual groundhoppers around the West Midlands area. It can be accessed by taking the 9 platinum from Birmingham, stopping at Colley Lane and taking a 20 minute walk to the ground.
Starting Line Ups
Cradley Town’s starting line up featured Nana Frimpong starting in goal and Darren Whitley captaining the team from central defence. The formation appeared to be a 5-3-2 with a front two of Chris Bladen and Jordan Crump being supported by Joshua Marsden from attacking midfield.
There were four changes from the team that started against Coventry Copsewood at the weekend with Daniel Harvey coming into the team and playing in holding midfield alongside Jamie Underhill.
The starting line up for OJM involved Tom Clapp starting in goal and Callum Nimmo leading the team from central defence. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with Kosheen Sappelton leading the line up front and being supported by Zaq Hussain and Reece Morris on the wings.
There were four changes from the team that started against Hinckley AFC a few weeks back with Musa Jawara coming into the team and starting at right back.
The opening half an hour was fairly cagey with both teams settling into the match and there were not many chances. OJM started the stronger of the two with Cradley gradually growing into it. The visitors were passing the ball around positively and linking up the play well around the pitch. Cradley were well organised off the ball and looked to catch OJM on the break and out of position.
One of the main reasons for the lack of chances in front of goal was down to how well organised both defences were.
Callum Nimmo was excellent for OJM and made some crucial headers and blocks to stop promising Cradley attacks in the box. Daniel Hadley was also good at the other end for Cradley and made some brilliant tackles to break up promising OJM attacks in front of goal.
Kosheen Sappelton was holding the ball well up front for OJM and bringing players into the game. This was crucial as it gave the visitors a way into the match, and they settled into it brilliantly in quite a lively atmosphere and stuck to their passing game.
Cradley looked threatening up front with Jordan Crump linking up the play well in the final third and looking dangerous in the box. The Hammers were getting players into the box, and it was testament to how well OJM defended that they did not have many chances in front of goal.
The first half was entertaining despite being goalless with both teams organised and offering some threat in the final third.
The second half was more stretched than the first with both teams getting forward more often and looking dangerous in the box. The pattern of play reversed from the first with Cradley taking the initiative and getting on the ball more in front of an excellent home support. OJM were set up to catch them on the break and build attacks from the wings.
Musa Jawara had a good early chance for OJM in the box which was well set up by Reece Morris on the right wing. This was a sign of things to come with the visitors taking the lead which involved a moment of quality from OJM.
They broke with pace on the counter and attacked down the right where a ball was played to Liam Spink on the edge of the box who finished excellently into the top right corner to make it 1-0 in the 55th minute.
Cradley were putting a lot of effort into building attacks in the final third, but it was not quite clicking in front of goal. Similar to the first half, their movement off the ball was good and they were getting into some promising position around the box with the only thing missing being the final ball.
OJM took control of the match in the middle of the second half and made it 2-0 in the 70th minute. An incisive ball was played to Zaq Hussain in the box who lobbed the ball over Nana Frimpong into the right corner. It was a brilliant finish that underlined why he was so prolific in front of goal last season with 32 goals scored.
Cradley had a brilliant chance to get back into the match a few minutes later with Tom Clapp making a point blank save from Daniel Hadley’s header from a well delivered corner. This was a big moment and if it went in it could have set up a grandstand finish.
None the less, OJM made it 3-0 late on to seal the three points. Substitute Taylor Hommer got into a good position in the box and was clinical in front of goal with an excellent finish for OJM. This underlined OJM’s strength in depth with a lot of quality coming off the bench in the second half such as striker Jabber Ahmed.
Not long after, the referee blew for the full-time whistle in an entertaining match at Beeches View Avenue.
Cradley were good in this match despite the scoreline, and it was more of a case of OJM playing well and being clinical in front of goal than the Hammers struggling. The result makes it consecutive defeats in the league for Cradley but it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how far the club has come.
The Hammers have a crucial run of fixtures against fellow play off rivals throughout January. They play Wednesfield (Away), Sutton United (Home) and Heather St John’s (Away) over the next month. They are up against Chelmsley Town at the weekend at Pack Meadow.
There’s quality in the team with the back three of Daniel Hadley, Darren Whitley and Declan Bibb impressing and dealing with dangerous balls into the box. Jordan Crump and Joshua Marsden also have that quality on the ball to unlock defences in the final third.
OJM were excellent in this match and are capable of finishing in the play offs. They have a nice blend of defensive and attacking quality and looked well balanced in this match.
The central defence of Stefan Cameron and Callum Nimmo were excellent and headed dangerous ball away from the box and stopped Cradley attacks. It’s a good way to grow into matches away from home and should serve them well over the coming months.
Liam Spink had an underrated match from holding midfield and linked up the play well. He offered the team composure on the ball from midfield and helped the visitors settle into the match. Reece Morris also looked dangerous on the right and was a threat on the wing, especially in the second half.
Overall, an impressive performance from OJM that underlined their strengths as a team.
FT Score: Cradley Town 0-3 OJM Black Country
Man of the Match: Callum Nimmo (OJM)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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