Whitchurch Alport were looking to get a result yesterday afternoon at Yockings Park against Darlaston town to continue their impressive form in the league. The Shropshire club had picked up 10 points from their last five matches in the premier with one of the standout results being a 2-0 win away at Highgate United. The team can go a bit under the radar, but Luke Goddard has done a brilliant job as manager and the club look capable of challenging for a play off place.
Darlaston Town were coming off the back of a narrow loss to Sporting Khalsa in the FA cup where they bowed out on penalties in a replay. The club competed admirably against step four opposition across the two games and there was little to separate the two sides. The visitors had picked up six points from four matches in the league and were looking to build some momentum with a win yesterday.
The atmosphere around Yockings Park was friendly and relaxed prior to kick off with the conditions clear and sunny throughout the afternoon. The set up at the club was excellent and included a clubhouse, club shop and food stall for both sets of supporters. The ground also has a bit of character to make it stand out within the division. One of the stands is named after supporter Aaron Millington who passed away at the age of 23 three years ago and is a nice tribute.
Starting line ups
Whitchurch’s starting line up featured Jack Sheward starting in goal and Alex Hughes leading the line up front as the skipper. The formation appeared to be a 4-2-3-1 with Alex Hughes being supported by Chris Akiamale and Harvey Lewis on the wings and Matty Birchall playing in the number ten role.
There were two changes from the team that started against Tividale last weekend with Junior Brown coming into the team and starting in central defence alongside Ritchie Sutton.
The starting line up for Darlaston included William O’Sullivan starting in goal and Alexandra Forshaw leading the team as the skipper and playing alongside Ben Podmore in central defence. The formation looked like a 4-2-3-1 with Kieron Miller leading the line and being supported on the wings by Ryan Winwood and Louis Baker.
There were three changes from the team that started against Sporting Khalsa with Ronee Hendricks coming into the team and starting at left back.
The first fifteen minutes of the match were a bit scrappy with both teams settling into the match and working each out. Darlaston managed to take the lead in the 17th minute through their first threatening attack with Louis Baker finding space on the left-hand side of the box and playing the ball to Aaron Bishop who finished well into the top right-hand corner. The visitors were controlling the match from midfield throughout the first half with Whitchurch having a few half chances to get back into.
Matty Birchall sent in a promising free kick that was headed wide by Ritchie Sutton in the 22nd minute in front of the Aaron Millington stand. Alex Hughes also worked a brilliant chance to equalise in the 41st minute and got a curling shot off that hit the far post.
The first half was ending without much incident before an off the ball altercation between Ben Podmore and Matty Birchall lead to the former being sent off and Darlaston reduced to ten men for the second half. It was a shame for Darlaston as Ben Podmore played well throughout the first half and was heading key balls away from danger.
There was a tactical change by Darlaston in the second half with right back Joshua Jones moving to central defence to play alongside Alexandra Forshaw at the back. Whitchurch were building some momentum throughout the second half and passing the ball with purpose to try and find an equaliser.
Most of the chances fell to Whitchurch in the early stages of the second half with Ritchie Sutton having a chance from a corner in the 58th minute where he headed wide at the back post. Darlaston stood up to the pressure well throughout the second half with Alexandra Forshaw excellent at the back and getting into the right positions to clear the ball away. Alex Hughes had a few half chances for Whitchurch but in the main the visitors managed to keep them at the bay.
Just as Whitchurch were building some sustained pressure on the Darlaston goal Ryan Alcock was sent off for a high tackle and picked up a second yellow to reduce the hosts to ten men in the 73rd minute. None the less, Whitchurch still had chances to equalise and get something in the last twenty minutes.
Harvey Lewis had a header in the box that was well saved by William O’Sullivan in the 76th minute who tipped the shot over the bar. Substitute Callum Knowles was through one on one with the goalkeeper in the 89th minute with William O’Sullivan doing brilliantly to save the shot.
As the hosts were going forward to try and find an equaliser, Darlaston caught them on the break deep into injury time with Substitute Khalil Harrison racing forward and catching Jack Sheward off his line to finish into the bottom left corner and give the visitors the three points. Not long after the referee blew for full time and it finished Whitchurch Alport 0-2 Darlaston Town
There were plenty of positives for Whitchurch despite the defeat yesterday. Alex Hughes played well as the number nine and linked up the play well. He managed to work the ball well in the box and created some good opportunities in the final third. Josh Madeley had a brilliant game from left back and looked good at both aspects of the game. He was solid defensively and was making good runs forward and working balls into the box.
Harvey Lewis looked good on the left wing and was causing the Darlaston defence some problems. He got into some good positions in the box and took on defenders which was good. Ryan Alcock looked good as the holding midfield and gave the team a bit of bite from midfield and was playing well from midfield before being sent off.
Darlaston put in a real good shift to get the three points at Yockings Park yesterday and one of their key strengths was how well organised they looked off the ball. Alexandra Forshaw was excellent from the back and stood up to the Whitchurch pressure throughout the second half and managed to get into the right positions to head the ball away from danger. He led the team well as the skipper and was reading situations well at the back.
Joshua Jones played well at both right back and centre back and read the game well throughout the 90 minutes. He can go a bit under the radar for Darlaston but put in a good performance from the back to help the visitors get the win. Kieron Miller put in a hard-working shift as the number nine and constantly chased the ball down. He also linked up the play well and got on the ball a lot in the first half to give the visitors a foothold in the match.
Substitute Khalil Harrison played well when he came off the bench in the second half and looked solid defensively as well as offering a threat going forward from the right. It was a spirited performance from the visitors, and they managed the match well.
Both teams look set for exciting seasons in the premier division and both are worth following from now until the end of the season in late April.
Man of the Match: Alexandra Forshaw
Match report written by Rhys Beardmore for the Midland Football League
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