Tayls the Sniper Fires Stafford To Victory At Profligate Warwick…
Racing Club Warwick 0-2 Stafford Town
Lowly Stafford, I was reliably informed, have played some decent stuff this term without managing to score enough goals but on this slightly misty, slightly damp evening adjacent to Warwick Racecourse, the visitors rapped a two goal punishment over the knuckles of a strangely languid bunch of Racers who missed a number of chances to have claimed all three points themselves. True a couple of fine saves by Stafford’s Josh Moreton in the opening half from Luke Church were helpful to the Stafford cause but during the second period, with the score remaining at 0-1 to the guests, the hosts messed up two close range headers and thus allowed Taylor Allen to rub salt deeply into the Warwick wounds with a late second goal.
|REFEREE: "APART FROM THE DOG, I'VE GOT THREE CHICKENS, A HAMSTER AND A TOAD AT HOME. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT LUKE?"|
LUKE COLE: "ER, A LIFE, ACTUALLY, REF..."
In fact, Town made a fine start to the second period and forced home goalie Tom Cross into two saves, one from Jack Partridge and another from the dangerous Allen, so overall, when one factors in the tight Stafford game-plan and their powerful defending, one could suggest that they deserved their success. Warwick will be disappointed to lose a second successive home game without scoring a goal, despite their form on the road, during which they have netted four times in each of their last four matches, yet they have gained only 7 points from 12. Stafford moved above Bolehall Swifts following this win, although the Tamworth based outfit do have games in hand.
|"GET A MOVE ON, REF, MY BOOTS ARE SINKING..."|
A couple of early Warwick corners came to nought, Town midfielder Walter Vundla shot way off target from distance and Racer Martin Hutchcox looped a header from another Henry Leaver corner onto the roof of the Stafford net. Already, visiting central defender Callum Downie had displayed his mettle with a couple of harsh challenges which were good to see on a heavy pitch… On a long break, Allen fired off a warning shot but his effort, following his speedy run, was wasteful. Moreton’s glove grazed a deep Leaver free-kick for a corner but he made up for his slight mis-punch with a brilliant goal-save from the subsequent flag-kick. Leaver swung it in and Church rose to flash a close range header goalwards but the ‘keeper’s reactions were as sharp as broken glass as he leapt left to turn the effort aside. Home right-back Jack Taylor was cautioned seconds later for a soles-up challenge in midfield, following the Stafford clearance.
|LUKE COLE STARES IN DISBELIEF AS AN OPPONENT PUNCHES THE SURROUNDING RAIL...|
|"SHOULD GET A CAUTION TONIGHT..."|
|BUT JACK TAYLOR GETS ONE FIRST...|
Then the visitors attacked from a defensive situation and after the busy Jack Milgate fed the eager and bullish Tom Duffy in attack, the striker shoved a pass back for Partridge to measure an assist for Allen. The forward easily oozed between Hutchcox and fellow RCW defender Paul Holland onto the feed to leave him one-on-one with Cross and Allen drifted right past the goalie to slip an accurate angled shot into the Racers’ net.
|SMART FINISH, NOT BY THE SOLDIER, THE SAILOR, OR THE TINKER, BUT THE TAYLOR, ALLEN... |
Warwick responded but visiting skipper Dave Wilcock stayed firm, alongside the growling Downie, as first Church’s flicked header went wide, then Wade Malley was unable to latch onto Rich Powell’s right-side centre, before Moreton excelled himself again. Powell brushed Vundla off the ball and threaded a clever pass into the 18 yard box for Church to move onto but Moreton was off his goal-line quickly to snub out the danger. The unruffled Joe Carter, tall in the Warwick midfield, was unable to get a boot to a Church cross (church cross?) and following more RCW pressure, initiated by the effective Powell, a Church shot was blocked by the frowning Downie.
Some respite was needed by Town and they found it with an offensive free-kick which Allen took from a deep and central position. Duffy, completely unchallenged, despite the penalty-box being crowded, nodded the ball with little direction but the visitors won a relieving corner anyway, although that was cleared too easily by the Racers. A long throw by Malley, who was receiving scant service alongside his skipper Luke Cole ended with Carter lifting an effort too high from 15 yards, before a tough tackle by Downie went unpunished by the referee, who immediately warned Cole for a similar offence and awarded the guests a free-kick. Ah, the inconsistency of the lives of referees and this one was being watched by three officials, I believe…
A Malley centre from the left offered Powell a shooting chance at inside-right but his effort was lifted too high from a good position and with Church injured, Martin Slevin warmed up to replace him. A superb smacked clearance by Downie hit Lewis Hudson in, er, the midriff, knocking him off his feet, as if a huge Seattle Seahawks’ running-back had taken him out to create a gap for a quarterback’s bootleg scamper. He got up immediately though, so fair play to him… Slevin replaced Church for just five seconds before the half-time whistle sounded with the Stafford team a goal ahead and not seemingly rattled at all…
After the interval, a left-flank delivery by Warwick led to a serving header towards the left upright by Cole but Malley was unable to connect with the ball effectively and the chance was gone. The referee stopped the proceedings when the lively and committed Stafford left-back Ben Gutteridge lay hurt with what should have been a head injury but was in fact a gloved hand injury. Hmm… Anyway, Hutchcox looked to be hurt soon afterwards and when Duffy dispossessed him and forged a run into the inside-right slot, only a desperate challenge by Hudson or perhaps the flailing gloves of Cross thwarted the forward’s rising 15 yard drive and deflected it slightly for a corner. The flag-kick was cleared but the creative Partridge fastened onto the ball some 23 yards out and rapped in a fine shot which Cross dived right for to palm away. A low diving header by Duffy from Milgate’s dipping left-wing centre flew well wide of the near stick but Stafford had begun the second-half well and Warwick were stumbling. Hutchcox was replaced by Ryan Billington and Carter dropped into central defence.
|DENNIS THE MENACE'S MATE WALTER DID THE HARD GRAFT IN MIDFIELD FOR STAFFORD...|
A period of somewhat desperate pressure was then mounted by RCW, currently 7th in the division but little went right. First, a Slevin pass for Powell to his right resulted in Wilcock making a fine deflection, before Stafford countered with a break-up by Gutteridge. Allen rushed past Holland on the left and bore down on goal, only for Cross to drop left and save smartly, allowing Hudson to clear. Soon a Cole header from 15 yards dropped straight at Moreton’s feet but didn’t bounce at all and the ‘keeper had to be careful not to fumble it. It was like Moreton was in marshland (Moreton in Marsh? Really?) and he was grateful to scoop up the ball.
|DUFFY: MISSING DOODY ALREADY...|
A low Powell centre from the left was too far ahead of Malley, who was looking frustrated with the lack of decent service he felt he was getting, before Duffy took a break and was replaced by Town’s Queenton Manase and then Vundla managed to clear a dangerous Warwick corner. Malley was then taken out of the game, to his obvious disgruntlement, if his shirt-wrenching from upper body and frowning, stalking exit from the arena were anything to go by. Sean Kavanagh came into the game but he was unable to affect the outcome, bar a slipped pass to Cole, whose shot was blocked by the dependable Wilcock.
|COLE'S PROPHECY COMES TRUE...|
Twice in the latter stages Warwick ought to have regained parity, as Stafford fought to stay ahead but the pressure was by no means constant upon them. A Cole centre from the right was mis-headed over the crossbar from 3 yards by Powell, Cole then passed left to Powell, whose delivery flew straight to Moreton and after a brief period of attacking by Town, wherein a left-booter by Allen flew just too high and another piece of offense led to no shot at all, a couple of cautions for the Racers underlined their total frustration. Cole was the first to be booked and then Slevin for a foul on the poleaxed Vundla but Downie was also yellow-carded, finally, for a bit of a wild challenge.
|MARTIN SLEVIN'S NAME APPEARS IN A REFEREE'S NOTEBOOK AGAIN...|
The final miss for the hosts was again glaring and it came from the hardworking Leaver’s right-side free-kick but with Powell right behind him, Holland leaned for a clear header from just 3 yards out. However, his glanced effort drifted past the left upright for another wasted opportunity. Naturally, the most effective offenseman on the pitch, Allen, then settled the contest by rubbing in those Warwick misses and scoring another individual goal. Through the inside-right channel, he slipped past an abject challenge by the wrong-footed Carter on the 18 yard line and shoved a low shot past the advancing Cross to conclude the proceedings.
|0-2, JOB COMPLETED & TAYLOR ALLEN GOES HOME FOR HIS TEA...|
Game management was then rife for the guests, as Callum Yates and Alex Norris replaced the excellent Allen and the untiring foraging forward Tom Doody and the referee brought the match to a close.
|INTERESTING HOW IT SEEMS THAT ONLY THE VICTORS SEEM TO THANK THE OFFICIALS...|
At times RCW did seem a little tired maybe, their passes across defence appearing sluggish on the heavy surface but despite some decent play by Powell and Leaver in midfield, plus the offensive positions taken up by Church in the opening half, neither Cole, nor Malley were really presented with true goalscoring opportunities. Those missed fell to Powell and Holland in the second-half but Town’s Allen displayed the kind of finishing a team near the foot of the league table needs in a crowded end of season run of matches. His brace was deserved, his running in possession embarrassed the Racers at times and with Duffy providing the strength and Doody the movement, midfielder Milgate and especially Partridge had the targets to aim for in counter attacks. Vundla was the spoiler, full-backs Charlie Marshall and Gutteridge impressed with their concentration but the unfazed Downie and Wilcock held their ground continually. Moreton had made those crucial first-half saves and thus the guests spoiled the hosts’ mud party…
Odd though, that upon arrival at Townsend Meadow there was an antiques group having their meeting in the clubroom, including holding their own raffle and on one table there were some of those old green pop bottles with marbles as stoppers. Obviously kids would dig out the marbles for another use in the old days, making those still with stoppers today quite valuable. I mention this because Warwick’s Chairman’s son Josh heard the conversation about them between his mum and me. Nobody ever nicked ships from bottles, I reckoned… He looked at me, possibly confused.
He then won biscuits in the raffle and asked for a mention in my report…
There you go, mate, it’s what I do…
RACING CLUB WARWICK:
TOM CROSS, JACK TAYLOR, LEWIS HUDSON, PAUL HOLLAND, MARTIN HUTCHCOX, HENRY LEAVER, LUKE CHURCH, JOE CARTER, LUKE COLE (CAPT), RICH POWELL, WADE MALLEY.
MARTIN SLEVIN, ALEX PRICE, SEAN KAVANAGH, RYAN BILLINGTON.
JOSH MORETON, CHARLIE MARSHALL, BEN GUTTERIDGE, JACK PARTRIDGE, CALLUM DOWNIE, DAVE WILCOCK (CAPT), JACK MILGATE, WALTER VUNDLA, TOM DUFFY, TOM DOODY, TAYLOR ALLEN.
ALEX NORRIS, QUEENTON MANASE, TOM WRIGHT, CALLUM YATES.