Studley were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon to bounce back from a difficult run of results in the league. The Bees had lost three consecutive league matches with their last win being the thrilling 4-3 win away at Whitchurch Alport in early October. The club were excellent in the opening few months of the season but have struggled over the last month.
Stone Old Alleynians were also looking to get a result yesterday afternoon and were coming off narrow losses to Darlaston Town and Lichfield City over the last few weeks. The visitors have been competitive throughout the season. They have also proved to be a tough test away from home with only seven away goals conceded coming into this match.
They beat Studley earlier in the season 3-2 at Kings Park in a statement win for the Stoke club.
Starting line ups
The starting line up for Studley included Brendon Bunn starting in goal and captaining the team. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with Zac Guinan playing as the number nine and being supported by Tyler Bruck and Owen Watkins on the wings. Max Martin and John Mills played in holding midfield with Harry Lake and Dan Noke playing in central defence.
There were two changes from the team that started against Lichfield City a fortnight ago with Robbie Thompson-Brown coming into the team and playing as the number ten.
Stone Old Alleynian’s starting line up featured Raajan Gill starting in goal and Matt Thomas captaining the team from holding midfield. The formation appeared to be a 4-3-3 with Jack Tomlinson leading the line as the number nine and being supported by Jack Bowater and David Ablewhite on the wings. Josh Sedgley and Louis Anthony played in central defence for the visitors.
There were five changes from the team that started against Darlaston Town last weekend with Sam Wilson coming into the team and starting in midfield.
Studley started the match positively and were looking to get an early goal in the opening 20 minutes. Tyler Bruck had an excellent chance for the Bees early on but missed from a good position in the box. The hosts started the match the better of the two teams with Stone Old Alleynians gradually growing into the match as it went on.
Studley managed to take the lead in the middle of the first half with a neat passing move being finished off by Zac Guinan who finished well into the bottom right corner. Stone Old Alleynians found an equaliser a few minutes later and it came against the run of play. Luke Askey took a deflected free kick that hit the wall and looped over Brendon Bunn to make it 1-1 on the half hour mark.
This proved crucial as it gave the visitors some confidence and belief to get something from the match. It was also a bit of a turning point, with Stone Old Alleynians building more momentum as the first half went on and arguably the stronger of the two teams going into the half time break.
There was an unfortunate injury to Owen Watkins near the end of the first half who went off on a stretcher which was a shame. He was brilliant at Romulus last season and one of the standout players in the division. The injury is a huge blow for Studley over the coming weeks as he looked good on the left wing and was making things happen in the first half.
The rest of the first half involved some notable chances for both Studley and Stone Old Alleynians to take the lead. Tyler Bruck had the best chance for Studley with a header that just went wide. The visitor’s best chance came near the end of the first half with Matt Thomas heading wide from a free kick into the box.
The second half was an excellent watch for the neutral and there was a clear pattern of play. Studley looked to play possession football and work balls into the box with Stone Old Alleynians being organised off the ball and playing incisive counter attacking football on the break.
It was not quite clicking for the Bees in the final third throughout the second half and there were times when Studley were getting overrun in midfield. A lot of this is testament to how well Stone Old Alleynians were set up off the ball, and it was an excellent away performance. They managed to press in the right moments and constantly put pressure on Studley to win the ball back and break with pace.
The visitors scored early in the second half to make it 2-1 with an excellent ball into the box finding Sam Wilson who headed the ball into the bottom left corner. Studley managed to find an unlikely equaliser to make it 2-2 a few minutes after the visitors took the lead. John Mills struck an excellent low free kick that went into the bottom right corner for the Bees.
The match was in the balance until the key moment in the match. Studley Substitute Romario Martin was caught in possession by Stone Old Alleynians and they played quickly on the counter attack with the Studley defence stretched. Sam Wilson went on a brilliant run down the right and accelerated into the box. He unleashed an excellent shot that went into the bottom left corner to give the visitors the lead.
Romario Martin had a good chance to equalise and make it 3-3 a few minutes later but shot at Raajan Gill from the edge of the box. Stone Old Alleynians scored again late on with Jack Tomlinson beating his man and squaring the ball to David Ablewhite who finished well to make it 4-2. Not long after the match finished with the Stoke club taking home the three points and doing the league double over the Bees.
Studley showed a lot of effort and endeavour in this match, but it was not their day unfortunately. It was not quite clicking in the final third and they struggled to get into a rhythm and build some momentum to trouble the visitor’s goal. The match showed a team struggling for a bit of form and they could do with a result to build some confidence as the quality is there.
Harry Lake looked good at the back and was reading the game well. He was getting into good positions to clear the ball away from danger for the Bees. Zac Guinan played well as the number nine and linked up well when building attacks. Robbie Thompson-Brown also looked good as the number ten and was looking to make things happen from attacking midfield.
Overall, there’s signs of quality in this team. It’s just a case of getting it to gel and building the form they had earlier in the season.
Stone Old Alleynians were excellent in this match and came out deserved winners. A key strength was their organisation off the ball, and they executed their game plan brilliantly. They constantly limited the space for Studley and pressed when it mattered to win the ball back.
Josh Sedgley was brilliant at the back and was constantly clearing the ball away from danger. Matt Thomas led the team well from holding midfield and had an underrated game. He did a lot of the work that gets unnoticed such as breaking up the play and stopping attacks.
Jack Tomlinson looked good as the number nine and linked up the play well. He’s an old-fashioned number nine and did well to get the team up the pitch and relieve the pressure on them in this match.
Sam Wilson stood out in the second half. He’s got that bit of quality and pace on the ball and is naturally suited to a counter attacking style.
Overall, it was a classic away performance from the Stoke club.
Man of the Match: Sam Wilson (Stone Old Alleynians)
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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