Smethwick were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon to close the two-point gap over Wolves Sporting in 17th and move clear of the relegation zone. It’s been a tough month for Smethwick with three points from three matches throughout December. None the less, it’s also been a tough schedule as they’ve regularly come up against top teams such as Hinckley and Cradley over the last few weeks.
Paget were also looking to get a result yesterday to close the gap between themselves and safety. The Bears were in 20th coming into this one and were looking to narrow the four-point gap over Wolves Sporting. It’s been a challenging season for Paget so far with their away form being a struggle with no wins from seven matches coming into this one.
Both teams are ultimately looking to stay in the division come the end of the season and face a huge second half of the season between now and late April.
The atmosphere prior to the match was friendly and relaxed around the Trevor Brown Memorial Ground with both sets of supporters looking forward to an entertaining match. One of the main issues for both teams this season has been up front with 22 goals for Smethwick and 24 for Paget which suggested it was going to be a tight match.
Starting Line Ups
Smethwick’s starting line up featured Harold Edjangue starting in goal and Jake Allen captaining the team from holding midfield. The formation looked like a 4-3-3 with R’Marni Reid-Miller playing as the central striker and being supported by Shanquille Whittingham and Tabari Maxwell on the wings.
There were four changes from the team that started against Cradley Town last weekend with Jake Lamb coming back into the team and playing in central defence alongside Youssef Elzahari.
The starting line up for Paget included Joshua Bennett starting in goal and Ryan Butler captaining the team from holding midfield. The formation appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Nadeer Yassin Kahssay playing up front and being supported by De-Quarnai Williams and Nathan Weir on the wings.
There were four changes from the team that started against Ingles last weekend with Ryan Butler coming back into the team and playing in holding midfield alongside Lateef Giwa.
The first ten minutes were fairly cagey with both teams settling into the match and working each out. Harry Parker had a good early chance for Paget in the box but had an effort go wide in the 13th minute. Smethwick also had a good early chance to take the lead with Xavier Nwobani-Akano playing a brilliant ball to R’Marni Reid-Miller who saw his header go narrowly wide of goal in the 15th minute.
Smethwick were starting to get into a rhythm mid-way through the first half and were playing some brilliant football around the Paget penalty area. Jake Allen was instrumental for Smethwick going forward and was linking up the play well from midfield. He had a good chance in the 26th minute but had an effort go narrowly wide from a good position in the box.
Paget were gradually growing into the match as the first half went on and were playing some good football going forward. Nadeer Yassin Kahssay was doing an excellent job holding the ball up and bringing players into the game to start off attacks for the Bears. Nathan Weir also looked threatening on the right and was looking to make things happen on the ball.
Smethwick just shaded the first half based on the balance of play, but Paget did a good job of containing them to keep the scoreline level going into half time. Donald Egbon was excellent at the back and constantly read the danger to clear the ball and stop promising Smethwick attacks in the first half. The holding midfield of Lateef Giwa and Ryan Butler also looked good and offered the team a bit of industry and leadership off the ball.
Both teams looked good when building attacks. The main thing missing was the final ball and that bit of composure in the box to open the scoring.
There was a crucial moment in the second half which changed the momentum of the match. Jake Wilkes committed a foul on the edge of the box and received a second yellow card to reduce Smethwick to ten men for the rest of the second half with 40 minutes to go. Adam Dale came off the bench and stepped in at right back for the rest of the half.
This was a huge moment in the match and gave Paget the initiative. The main question was whether they were going to break down a resilient Smethwick backline and find a way through. Smethwick did offer some threat up front and on the counterattack, but it was the Bears who were in the ascendancy for the last half an hour.
There was also a subtle tactical change which gave Paget greater impetus in the second half and allowed them to control the match. The formation changed to a 4-3-3 on the hour mark which played to Paget’s strengths and allowed them to pass the ball around better in the final third.
The Bears had an excellent chance to take the lead in the middle of the second half. Substitute Delcio Neto played an excellent ball to the back post that found Nathan Weir who shot narrowly wide from a good position in the 65th minute. It was the best passing move of the match and showed what Paget are capable of on the ball.
Smethwick were doing an excellent job to keep the score goalless late on with Jake Allen and Jevani Robinson playing brilliantly to stop Paget attacks and clear the ball away from danger. Kenjy Camara was also doing a under the radar job from holding midfield and covered a lot of ground off the ball to take the pressure off the Smethwick backline.
It was looking like Smethwick were going to hold on for an unlikely point until a moment of quality gave Paget the lead. A corner was well played to Harry Parker on the edge of the box who had a header hit the top left corner to give the Bears a huge result. Paget did a good job of seeing the match out in the final few minutes to take home the three points.
This was an entertaining match despite it being a relegation six pointer and both teams put a lot of effort into it. Both teams have struggled in the league so far but have quality on the ball which should give Smethwick and Paget supporters hope for the rest of the season.
Smethwick will be disappointed with the result, and it might be a case of moving on to the next match against Bilston Town on Boxing Day in a busy festive schedule. None the less, there were some positives from this match which should serve them in good stead.
The key strength was how they battled as a team against Paget and played well at the back. The sending off limited what they could do in the second half up front, but they looked organised off the ball defensively. It was just a case of Paget putting a sustained amount of pressure on the Smethwick goal late on and finding a way through rather than anything they did wrong.
Paget were good in this match and showed character to get the result. The most pleasing thing is that it feels like they can get better and improve over the coming months. There were a lot of encouraging signs for Bears supporters that Paget could stay up come April.
The main positive was the Bears trying to make things happen on the ball. Nathan Weir was excellent on the right and epitomised Paget going forward yesterday.
With AFC Bridgnorth and Wolves Sporting losing yesterday the bears are only a point from safety. This result could be huge for Paget and something to build on for the rest of the season.
FT score: Smethwick Rangers 0-1 Paget Rangers
Man of the Match: Nathan Weir (Paget Rangers)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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