Smethwick were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon against Droitwich Spa at the Trevor Brown Memorial Ground in Division One. The hosts have struggled in the league so far and were bottom of the table coming into this match with 9 points from 17 matches.
One of the positives is that their within reach of safety and were only five points off Wolverhampton SC in 17th coming into this one. The hosts have a crucial month ahead with six league matches throughout December to close the gap.
Droitwich Spa have been one of the standout teams in MFL Division One this season. The Saltmen have impressed so far and were 3rd in the table coming into this match with 32 points from 15 matches. Their away form was also good with five wins from eight matches on the road. They were looking to respond to their last away match where they lost 3-1 to Coventry Copsewood.
This match went ahead yesterday despite the challenging weather conditions. There was a notable number of away supporters who made the journey yesterday and braved the elements which was commendable.
Starting Line ups
Smethwick’s line up included Harold Edjangue starting in goal and Jake Allen captaining the team from midfield. The formation looked like a 5-3-2 with a front two of Jahmaal McIntosh-McMahon and R’marni Reid-Miller. They were supported by Tabari Maxwell in the attacking midfield role.
There were three changes from the team that started against Allscott Heath a few weeks back with Tivon Henry coming into the team and playing in midfield.
The starting line-up for Droitwich featured Joel Chadwick starting in goal and Connor Collins captaining the team up front. The formation appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Connor Collins being supported by Perry Moss and Luke Molloy on the wings.
There were three changes from the team that started against Coventry Copsewood a few weeks back with Alex Dugmore coming back into the team and playing in central defence alongside Callum Green.
Droitwich started the match brightly and were looking to get an early goal in the opening half an hour. There were a few good chances for the visitors to take the lead. Perry Moss had the best chance where he cut in from the right and fired just wide from a good position.
The main pattern of play throughout the first half involved the Saltmen having a lot of possession and building attacks. Smethwick were looking to play on the counter attack and break with pace. Both teams were well set up with Droitwich linking up well in the final third and Smethwick well organised defensively to make key clearances in the box.
There was an unfortunate injury to Smethwick defender Jake Wilkes mid-way through the first half who was playing well at the back. He was substituted for Charlie Aston who filled in admirably at the back.
Droitwich were mainly in control throughout the opening 45 minutes but just lacked that final ball in the box to take the lead.
Smethwick made it a challenging match and were brilliant at heading balls away from danger to stay in it going into half time. The team were growing in confidence as the match went on and they competed well with a quality team to keep it at 0-0 at half time.
The match came to life early in the second half with Droitwich taking the lead. Perry Moss made a brilliant run down the right and picked out Charlie Tilley in the box who finished well into the top left corner to make it 1-0 to the Saltmen. The goal reflected the visitor’s control of the match in the first half where they were on top for large periods.
The goal was a crucial moment in the match as it tested Smethwick’s resiliency to get back into it in tough weather conditions. They responded to the setback excellently and showed a lot of character over the next half an hour to turn the match on its head.
They got an unexpected equaliser a few minutes later which was finished brilliantly by Jahmaal McIntosh-McMahon who lobbed Joel Chadwick off his line to make it 1-1.
Smethwick were growing in confidence, and they took the lead through a moment of genuine quality that caught Droitwich off guard. Jevani Robinson made an excellent run down the left on the counter attack and squared the ball to Jake Allen who finished well to make it 2-1.
Smethwick were on top in the middle of the second half and their gameplan was working excellently. They looked organised at the back and were clinical on the counterattack. They managed to get a third goal through a defensive mix up at the back from Droitwich.
A loose ball at the back was capitalised on by Tabari Maxwell who accelerated into the box before being brought down by Callum Green for a penalty. Dylan Green converted it well from the spot to make it 3-1 and effectively seal the three points for the hosts.
Droitwich did have a few half chances to get back into it late in the second half. Substitute James Lemon made a good run in the box before firing wide from a good position and Charlie Tilley shot straight at Harold Edjangue in the box.
Smethwick did well to contain the visitors and take the jeopardy out of the match in the final 15 minutes and it finished 3-1 at full time.
This feels like a huge win for Smethwick Rangers and something to build on for the rest of the season in their aim to stay up. The manner of the win is the most pleasing thing with the hosts genuinely deserving the win and working hard throughout the afternoon to get it. They played excellently as a team to nullify the attacking threat of Droitwich in tough conditions.
The defence really stood out in this match with the backline making constant clearances and headers to stop Droitwich attacks. Jake Lamb was excellent and read the game well at the back. He made a lot of key headers and blocks to get the ball away from danger. Charlie Aston and Youssef Elazhari also played well as part of a back three and they made some big clearances.
Another strength of the team was the full backs who played well. Dylan Green provided an attacking outlet on the right when on the counterattack and Jevani Robinson was also dangerous on the left.
Jahmaal-McIntosh McMahon was excellent up front and had an underrated game as the number nine. He built up the play well and used the ball well when given the opportunity.
Despite the defeat, there was quality on show from Droitwich. The team showed plenty of effort, but it was not clicking in front of goal. There were also a few uncharacteristic mistakes at the back.
It’s just a case of this not effecting future matches as the team are well in the hunt for a top three finish. Defeats can sometimes help the season get back on track and hopefully this will be the case for the Saltmen.
On a positive, Alex Dugmore played well at the back and was reading the game well. He made some big interceptions and recovered the ball well for the visitors. Charlie Tilley looked threatening as the number ten and was linking up well in the final third. Perry Moss also looked dangerous out on the right and was positive on the ball.
When looking at the season overall, it’s been brilliant from Droitwich so far who are in 3rd with 32 points from 16 matches. Yesterday was just one of those days but there’s still plenty of the season left to get back on track.
FT score: Smethwick Rangers 3-1 Droitwich Spa
Man of the match: Jake Lamb (Smethwick Rangers)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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