Lichfield were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon against a quality Uttoxeter side at the Trade Tyre Community Stadium to close the six-point gap on Congleton Town at the top of the table. The hosts were unbeaten in nine league games coming into this match and have been excellent at home this season with five wins and two draws from seven matches.
Uttoxeter were going into this match in an excellent run of form with three consecutive wins in the league. Their main strength has been at home with just one loss from seven matches. Their away record has been a mixed bag with four wins and three losses. The visitors have been one of the surprise teams this season in the MFL premier and are challenging for the play offs.
The atmosphere at the Trade Tyre Community stadium was friendly and welcoming prior to kick off with both sets of supporters looking forward to the match. The programme on offer was brilliant for the casual groundhopper. It included a brief history of Uttoxeter Town alongside some local reporting of Lichfield’s results over November from Lichfield Live.
There was a decent turnout of supporters for both Lichfield and Uttoxeter which was commendable given the cold weather conditions throughout the afternoon.
Starting Line Ups
The starting line up for Lichfield included James Beeson starting in goal and Dan Lomas captaining the team from holding midfield. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with prolific forward Dan Smith leading the line up front and being supported by Liam Kirton and Jude Taylor on the wings.
It was a strong starting eleven from Lichfield with Joe Haines playing in central defence alongside Jamie Elkes.
There were three changes from the team that started against Stourport Swifts last weekend with Cameron Dunn coming into the team and starting in attacking midfield.
Uttoxeter’s starting line up featured Charlie Wood starting in goal and Joel Dyche captaining the team from holding midfield. The formation appeared to be a 4-3-3 with a front two of Matt Redshaw and Jake Avery and Mikey Conlon playing just behind them in an attacking midfield role.
There were three changes from the team that started against AFC Wulfrunians last weekend with Eric Graves coming into the team and playing in central defence alongside Jack Bostock.
The first half of the match was a tight contest with both teams gradually growing into it. Both Lichfield and Uttoxeter settled into the match well and there was not much to separate them in the opening 45 minutes.
The defences were mainly on top and cancelling out promising attacks. It took until the half hour mark before there was a clear-cut chance.
The first real chance of the match fell to Liam Kirton on the edge of the box who had a shot well saved by Charlie Wood in the 30th minute. Lichfield were playing well and building up attacks in the final third with the only thing missing being the final ball to open the Uttoxeter defence.
To the visitor’s credit they set up well in this match and managed to contain the attacking threat of Lichfield well in the first half. Uttoxeter looked to play on the counterattack and had their best chance in the 35th minute on the break. Jake Avery got into an excellent position near the edge of the box before shooting wide of the goal.
It was an intriguing first half with Lichfield playing possession football and looking to break down a stubborn Uttoxeter defence. Eric Graves and Jack Bostock did well at the back. They frequently headed and cleared the ball away from danger which gave the visitors a way of growing into the match. In a tight contest, both teams went into the half time break goalless.
The match came to life early in the second half with Uttoxeter getting a penalty for a handball by Dan Lomas in the box. Jake Avery took the penalty well and fired into the top left corner to give the visitors the lead.
This effectively set the pattern for the second half with Lichfield looking to get back into the match and Uttoxeter looking to contain them and get a valuable result away from home.
Lichfield had a chance to equalise in the middle of the second half with an excellent ball into the box being met by Dominic Lewis who had an overhead kick go just wide. The hosts were cheered on by an excellent home support throughout the second half and it genuinely made a difference to the momentum of the match, with Lichfield taking the initiative and building promising attacks in front of goal.
Despite all the good build up play in the final third by Lichfield there was a feeling that it might not be their day in front of goal. The crucial moment of the second half came late on with a bit of luck for Lichfield leading to an excellent opportunity to get back into the match.
The ball deflected and managed to hit the right side of the corner flag to stay in play. Dan Smith anticipated the slice of good fortune brilliantly and accelerated with the ball on the edge of the penalty area before being brought down by Jack Bostock for a penalty.
Following a lengthy medical stoppage, Dan Lomas stepped up and took the penalty excellently into the right corner to make it 1-1 in the 80th minute. From this moment on, Lichfield were looking to get the winner in front of a passionate Lichfield home crowd.
None the less, Uttoxeter were not completely out of causing an upset and looked threatening on the break with the space left by Lichfield going forward making the match unpredictable. The visitors best chance for a late winner came from a free kick that was well cleared by Dom Lewis in the box before a moment of quality decided the match.
Following a frantic acceleration towards the Uttoxeter goal, a ball into the box was deflected off Eric Graves into the path of Lewi Burnside who anticipated the play brilliantly and finished well into the bottom left corner to make it 2-1. It was an instinctive finish and Lichfield’s positivity in search of a winner was rewarded.
Lichfield were good in this match and found a way to win which is impressive. Uttoxeter were a tough test throughout the afternoon and the character showed by the squad to get the three points is the main thing that stood out yesterday.
In addition to the 1-1 draw with Stourport Swifts last weekend which involved a late equaliser, the team battles for results which is a huge reason why they are 2nd in the table with 32 points and just one loss.
Joe Haines was excellent at the back and read dangerous situations well to stop promising Uttoxeter attacks. He also carried the ball well and linked up well with the midfield to start attacks. The holding midfield of Dominic Lewis and Dan Lomas is a key strength of the team and they managed to break up Uttoxeter attacks well in this match.
Luke Childs had an underrated game from left back. He looked solid defensively and offered an attacking outlet on the left wing when going forward.
Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives for Uttoxeter to take out of this match. Eric Graves looked good at the back and was constantly clearing balls away from danger to relieve the pressure on the visitor’s goal.
Jake Avery also looked dangerous up front and was getting into some good positions around the edge of the box. He also took the penalty well early in the second half.
The team are still in the play off hunt and have a huge game against Studley on Tuesday evening.
FT score: Lichfield City 2-1 Uttoxeter Town
Man of the Match: Joe Haines (Lichfield City)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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