St Matthews Walsall started life in the WMCFL with a well earned 5-2 victory over a spirited Maple Leaf Rovers QMC at our Doe Bank Park home.
After trying different formations and personel throughout pre-season, manager Matt Lovatt reverted back to a formation tried and tested by his players with a good blend of youth and experience in the starting line up.
It was perhaps the most experienced head of all that gave St Matthews the perfect start after just a couple of minutes as the evergreen Kevin Humpage finished well first time after some tenacious wing play by Nathan Brain down the right hand side. To their credit, Maple Leaf responded well to the early setback, getting the ball down and trying to play the right way and they were soon on level terms. The Maple Leaf number 9 Kiran Kellman broke down the left, into the penalty area and went down under the challenge of Matt Hissey. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, much to the dismay of Hissey. Kellman dusted himself down and sent keeper Ben Scragg the wrong way from the penalty spot. 1-1.
A period of Maple Leaf pressure ensued and they were unlucky not to take the lead when their number 10 Simeon Ellis hit the bar with a glancing header from a well delivered free kick and a few minutes later they were made to rue that miss as Sam Whitehouse got past his man on the left and crossed for Humpage to slam home his second of the game. It wasn’t long before Whitehouse was on the scoresheet himself, breaking the offside trap before rounding the Maple Leaf keeper and slotting into the empty net for 3-1. At this point it looked like St Matthews were going to run away with it but Maple Leaf kept going and gave themselves a glimmer of hope just before half time, Kellman getting his second of the game with a speculative effort that Scragg was disappointed not to keep out.
Half Time 3-2.
The second half started with more St Matthews pressure and the game was over as a contest with around half an hour to go, two almost identical goals putting some gloss on the victory. Captain Andy Rowley, who had an all round impressive game, sent in two crosses from around 40 yards out on the left hand side and on both occasions centre midfield partner James (Jimmy) Scragg was there to power his header home beyond the goalkeeper.
Again, Maple Leaf showed great resilience and attempted to get back in the game, Ellis was unfortunate to hit the frame of the goal again while the Maple Leaf number 8 and St Matthews’ combative midfield maestro Nathan Hathaway had a great battle in the second half especially.
Full time 5-2.
A word for Andres and his team, top bloke who has a good side at his disposal who I’d think will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. Nice set of lads too with the majority of the game played in good spirit. Good luck for the rest of the season (apart from the return fixture!).
Also, the match officials were top notch. The referee was actually being assessed and did really well.
Just a shame that due to a County Cup fixture and our free week, we haven’t got a league fixture for the next 2 weeks to build on our good start!