Bilston went into last night’s match looking to get their first win of the season at Queen Street against Shawbury United. The hosts have had a difficult start to the season, and it’s been a tough run of games against Stapenhill, Droitwich Spa and Hinckley. The club were looking to get a win to kickstart their season and build a run of form going into the August bank holiday period.
Shawbury United came into the match having picked up one point from three games played and were looking to get their first win of the season. Queen Street is traditionally a tough place to go for visiting teams and there was a lot of travelling involved for the Shropshire club for a mid-week fixture. The club lost prolific forward Joe Ellis Cuff to Shifnal Town during the summer and are looking to find someone to replace him this season.
Queen Street was a welcoming environment prior to kick off with the people at the club brilliant and helpful with any questions. The ground has a lot of character with the main stand offering a good view of the pitch to take in the match. The programme on offer before kick-off was excellent and informative for people new to Bilston Town and groundhoppers across the West Midlands. It gave more casual supporters of Bilston a sense of what is going on at the club and was up to date to include Tuesday’s results across the division.
The Starting line-up for Bilston included Kai Lloyd starting as the goalkeeper for the Steelmen and Soms Sibanda starting as the number nine and leading the line. The formation looked like a 4-3-3 with Soms Sibanda being supported by Ethan Pearce and Eesa Sawyers on the wings. Aaron Weston was the skipper for the team at left-back. Overall, there was one change from the team that started against Hinckley at the weekend with former Dudley Town player Samuel Yankson moving to the bench.
Shawbury’s starting line-up involved defender Jeff Agyeman leading the team as the skipper and Max Williams starting in goal for the visitors. The formation appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Ablay Sowe playing as the main striker up front and being supported by Reece Jacobs and Bobby Agyeman on the wings. There were four changes overall from the starting line up that played against Nuneaton Griff at the weekend with Marcus Dillon and Henry McGowan coming into the team and playing as full backs.
The visitors got off to the ideal start in the seventh minute with Marcus Dillon catching Kai Lloyd off his line and lobbing him from distance to give Shawbury an early lead. Bilston responded excellently and kept playing their passing game to find an equaliser. Jake Short played a brilliant through ball to Ethan Pearce who finished well into the bottom right corner in the 12th minute to make it 1-1.
Kai Lloyd conceded a penalty in the 16th minute and fouled Ablay Sowe in the box. The striker made a brilliant run into the box before being taken out by the Bilston keeper. Reece Jacobs stepped up to take the penalty which was well saved by Kai Lloyd in the Bilston goal and was a key moment in the match. The penalty save gave the Steelmen a lot of confidence and helped them settle into the match as the first half progressed.
The hosts gradually looked more comfortable on the ball as the half went on and were creating good opportunities to take the lead. Angelo Franco had a half chance that went wide of the far post in the 26th minute with the hosts building a bit of momentum going forward.
Bilston managed to take the lead in the 34th minute with Eesa Sawyers playing a defence splitting pass to Som Sibanda who finished brilliantly when through on goal to give the hosts the lead. The Steelmen held on to go into the half-time break 2-1 up and in a good position going into the second half.
The early stages of the second half were a bit cagey with both teams working each other out before the match kicked into life in the 60th minute. Eesa Sawyers showed a brilliant turn of pace and rounded Max Williams before finishing into the net to make it 3-1 to Bilston.
The hosts never looked back from then on and started to control the match throughout the second half. They were notably building a sense of rhythm in front of goal which will help the team’s confidence as well as form. The atmosphere at Queen Street was positive throughout the match with Bilston supporters in fine voice to encourage the team on throughout the second half and give them momentum for the season ahead.
Shawbury did have a few half chances to reduce the lead in the latter stages of the match with a free kick by substitute Ben Jones going wide in the 81st minute. Substitute Sam Mensah also had a good chance for Shawbury in front of goal that went wide but in the main it was the hosts that were in the ascendancy. Substitute Samuel Yankson had a good chance for Bilston that narrowly went over the bar in the 82nd minute with the bench impressing for the Steelmen later in the match.
Khenan Barrett squared the ball to Samuel Yankson late on who calmly finished into the bottom left corner of the net to make it 4-1. Not long after the match finished 4-1 to Bilston and was a deserved win for the Steelmen who played well throughout.
The result and performance by Bilston were really encouraging with the team playing well throughout the evening. Hopefully they can build on this result for the season ahead and build some momentum with their next match away to Coton Green at New Mill Lane on Saturday.
Levi Simms had a positive game from the back and was heading key balls away for Bilston and reading situations well. Eesa Sawyers was excellent and played well on the left wing. He constantly made things happen for the Steelmen. He’s got an exciting turn of pace and carries the ball effectively to start attacks and is a player to watch throughout the season.
Aaron Weston also went under the radar at left back but looked solid defensively in this match. Holding midfielder Mitch Evans played well and gave the team a bit of industry. He constantly got stuck in to tackles and wanted the ball in tight areas of the pitch. The atmosphere was brilliant throughout the evening and the use of steel drums and chanting for the hosts added to the match and pushed the team on in the second half.
Despite the defeat there were a few moments of promise for Shawbury. Left-back Henry McGowan had a good game and looked solid defensively for the visitors. He constantly blocked crosses and cleared dangerous balls away for Shawbury. Another player who impressed at the back was Jeff Agyeman who was good in the air and headed key balls away to stop attacks. Ablay Sowe looked effective as the number nine and showed positive hold up play to keep attacks going.
It’s going to be a long season for the visitors and hopefully they can get better with each match and grow into the season.
Both teams look set for exciting seasons and are worth following from August to the end of April.
Full-time score: Bilston Town 4-1 Shawbury United
Man of the Match: Eesa Sawyers
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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