The Mikes 4-1 Walsall
By The Mikes
Mikes comfortably progress into semi finals
Manager Stuart Grosvenor shuffled his pack following the 1-1 draw against league leaders Ilkeston last Saturday. The three changes saw Alister Brauns come in at left-back for Reece Mitchell, Owen Parry and Jack Skinner into midfield for the cup-tied Rico Taylor and the unavailable Cameron Gayle while Luke Shearer served the last of his three-game suspension. The star of the show was undoubtedly Ben Usher-Shipway who helped himself to a hat-trick and excelled throughout. There were chances aplenty under the floodlights against a young Walsall Development side, that featured two players that were on The Saddlers bench for the weekend defeat to Scunthorpe.
The manager had referenced “work ethic and high intensity” in the build-up to the game and he got what he wanted but had to wait until six minutes before the break when Ricardo Reid tapped in. Usher-Shipway saw his effort stopped on the line by Luke Little, following Joe Lyng’s flick-on from a deep free kick and Reid was on hand to force over the line. With 25 shots in the first half, it was a surprise there was only one goal. There were hard chances for Reid, a dipping long range effort from Owen Parry, Jack Skinner dragged wide and Steve Simpson hit the post. Walsall to their credit, despite being on the back foot for the opening 15 minutes, grew into the game and could have opened the scoring when Maz Kouhyar squared for captain Jordan Sangha who narrowly missed. Lewis Fenney showed good reflexes to turn the dangerous Kouhyar’s close range effort over the bar, despite suspicions of handball to bring the ball under control from Tobias Hayles-Docherty chipped pass.
The second half started as the first finished, a flurry of chances and a Boldmere goal. The lead doubled eight minutes in with Usher-Shipway’s first of the evening. Set free down the right by a long raking pass out of defence by Harry Craven, he beat Joe Brown for pace and despite the full-back’s best intention to bring the winger down outside the box, he shrugged him off and saw his first shot saved by the legs of Ethan Dawe but was alert to stab home the loose ball. Boldmere’s two goal lead lasted a minute when the impressive Belgian youth international Omar Mussa - signed from KV Mechelen earlier this month - sliced The Mikes defence open, finding the run of fellow midfielder Sangha who finished over the advancing Fenney. The two goal lead was re-established just after the hour mark when Usher-Shipway started and finished the move. His left-wing corner was met powerfully by Craven at the far post, who had three bites of the cherry, then Jack Skinner had an effort blocked but Usher-Shipway had joined the procession to smash home from close range. Reid was replaced by Craig Milligan minutes later, having taken a knock late in the first half which saw Skinner lead the line and Parry moved in behind him. Ryan Shaw and Brandon Williams picked up bookings, while the chances continued to flow and the centre back pairing of Craven and Lyng continually posed a threat on set-pieces and kept the back door shut. Usher-Shipway completed his hat-trick 17 minutes from time from the penalty spot after he himself, was tripped this time by Brown driving into the box. The youth team graduate dusted himself off and stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and book Boldmere’s semi-final place.
The Mikes: Lewis Fenney; Brandon Williams (Luke McGinnell 78); Alister Brauns; Owen Parry; Harry Craven (c); Joe Lyng; Ben Usher-Shipway; Ryan Shaw (Cameron Day 78); Rikardo Reid (Craig Milligan 64); Jack Skinner; Steven Simpson.
Subs not used: Harry Buttery (GK); Reece Mitchell.