Walsall Wood 2-1 The Mikes
Improved display but another defeat
Another defeat by a team near the top of the table; but a far better display than the week before, in an excellent game where the Mikes deserved a point, and could easily have gained three. Boldmere were without Rico Taylor (returned to Sporting Khalsa) but had Reece Mitchell back at left rear. The Wood line up was sprinkled with well-known names, including ex-Mike Stuart McNaught.
After the usual inconclusive opening exchanges, Luke Shearer fired just wide on 11 minutes, following up on a good run from Ben Usher-Shipway. Both teams looked handy on the break throughout the tie, the Wood defending in numbers, thus limiting Boldmere’s shooting chances, and heading away centres into the box. The Mikes depended more on last ditch tackles, as the Wood adopted a more direct approach. With just twenty minutes elapsed the Wood lost Paul Sullivan and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to injuries and were replaced by substitutes John Atherton, who was to prove the homesters’ match winner, and James Bennett-Tindall. The former was immediately in action showing a rare turn of pace to penetrate the Mikes defence but was foiled by a brilliant Owen Parry tackle. The visitors were certainly getting stuck in and referee Luis Martin booked both Jack Skinner and Parry for overzealous tackles the latter causing a confrontation between the official and Stuart Grosvenor.
Bennett-Tindall missed the first period’s best chance when he skied well over from near the penalty spot; but the Mikes were looking dangerous on the break: from the half hour, a succession of balls flew across from the wings, the persistent Usher-Shipway in particular laying on the sort of chance it needed the right person arriving at the right time to convert. You could put them down as half chances; but had they gone in, the Mikes could have gone it at the break goals to the good instead of parity.
Lee Butler was the third home substitute used as the second half commenced replacing Dan Okojie
The Mikes came closest to breaking the deadlock on 58 minutes, Parry blasting against the upright from the edge of the box when a more delicate effort might have had greater effect. Joe Lyng was the third Mike in the book hauling down Joey Butlin on the break before Parry just failed to convert another Usher-Shipway cross when sliding in at the far post. However, the opening goal arrived after 71 minutes, a four man move across the park was well finished by Atherton, squeezing it in past Lewis Fenney after closing in on the left-hand post. The Mikes were not to be denied, however, and four minutes later were level, Rikardo Reid finishing off another fine run and pass from Parry. A further five minutes in, the Wood were back in front, that man Atherton again making his way into the penalty area and sliding the ball past the advancing Fenney for his second. Paradoxically, Boldmere had their best passage of play as the clock ran down, throwing everyone forward in added time, in search of an equaliser. Right on time, an effort from Parry just skimmed the bar when if he had tumbled a penalty might have been awarded; but it wouldn’t go in, and the Mikes finished pointless, but not without honour.
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Brandon Williams (Cameron Day 82); Reece Mitchell; Owen Parry; Harry Craven; Joe Lyng; Ben Usher-Shipway; Ryan Shaw; Rikardo Reid; Jack Skinner (Craig Milligan 66); Luke Shearer (Steve Simpson 79). Subs not used: Alister Brauns, Harry Buttery