Wednesfield 0 Bewdley Town 3

Thursday 26th April 2012
Wednesfield 0 Bewdley Town 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Cottage Ground, Amos Lane
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: rain, heavy at times
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:20; second-half: 47:57

All the goals came in the first half as Bewdley Town enhanced their prospects of finishing in third position come the end of the season with a comfortable 3-0 win. Rich Costello and Dan Flowers (two) both found the net on a pitch which had taken a lot of rain and survived an afternoon inspection. Bewdley lost goalkeeper Darren Steadman to injury towards the end of the first half and his replacement Alex Taffe, an outfield player, was rarely tested.

Things didn’t look too hopeful for finding a game on, especially when the two scheduled Division One games at Wellington Amateurs and nearby Wolverhampton United were postponed and all of this evening’s Summer League games also fell foul to the very wet weather. Last night was a blank with the game I fancied, Eccleshall v Norton United, postponed by waterlogging. I knew that an afternoon inspection was due at the Cottage Ground and Garrincha’s Dog provided the good news on the Non-League Matters Forum that ‘WMRL Prem: Wednesfield V Bewdley - have been told that it has passed a 16:15 pitch inspection’.

Even though the Cottage Ground is only around a half-hour drive from home, I’d only previously visited on three occasions: twice during the 1980s for a Wednesfield home game and more recently in 2009 to see groundsharers Heathtown Rangers (now known at Wolverhampton Sporting Community). Through the gates, the pitch ran lengthways beyond an area of grass with the clubhouse, changing rooms and hospitality room all behind the far goal. Down the near left-hand touchline on halfway was a stand containing six rows of benches with individual numbered places marked out. Opposite were the dugouts spaced about 20 yards apart either side of the halfway line. All-in-all, a real place of character.

To keep my end-of-season theme going, this game had something at stake for both sides, more so for visitors Bewdley (4th position with 73 points from 36 games) who trailed third-placed Wolverhampton Casuals by seven points with three games in hand. Wednesfield (6th position with 69 points from 37 games) have had another decent campaign after finishing last season in 4th and need to finish as high as possible to make sure they qualify for next season’s FA Cup.

With lights on from the start, Bewdley (in blue and yellow shirts, blue shorts and socks) got the action underway attacking the clubhouse end in the first half. They took the lead in the 5th minute. Dan Flowers delivered a left-foot free-kick into the area from the right and defender Rich Costello scored with a right-foot volley via the hand of goalkeeper Sam Arnold.

Costello thought he’d scored again three minutes later but his close-range header was disallowed for offside.

Bewdley double their lead midway through the first-half. Sam Watkins got into the area on the left and beat the tackle of defender Ben Sanderson before crossing low to the far post where unmarked Flowers slotted home.

Just after the half-hour mark, Bewdley goalkeeper Darren Steadman was unable to continue through injury and substitute Alex Taffe, outfield player, took over in goal.

Flowers further extended his side lead to three goals in the 41st minute. Watkins played a crossfield ball forward to the right wing. The flag stayed down as Flowers latched on to the ball, took in forward and drove past the advancing Arnold into the far bottom left corner of the net. The two-goal hero then picked up an injury and, like Steadman, had to be replaced.

Just before the break, Wednesfield twice went close. Tom Horton played the ball forward down the right to Paul Sullivan. The joint player-manager could get in a shot and instead found Keith Thomas who shot wide. In stoppage time, Thomas fed Lee Butler who hit a rising shot which stand-in keeper Taffe pushed over the bar.

I watched the first half from Nelson’s seat – Row C position 111 – and opted for 112 after the restart.

Throughout the second half, Bewdley’s well-organised defence protected their lead and Taffe was rarely troubled. Rain, heavy at times, made the pitch slippy though perfectly playable. Wednesfield were restricted to a couple or three long-range shots when Ian Boswell fired well wide from fully 30 yards out and also sent another well-struck effort flashing past the goal. In stoppage time, Connor Scott drove over the bar.

Wednesfield (orange/black/black): 1. Sam Arnold, 2. Lee Butler, 3. Lee Warner, 4. Richard Palmer, 5. Tom Horton, 6. Ben Sanderson, 7. Tom McCrystal, 8. Ian Boswell, 9. Keith Thomas, 10. Anton Johns (capt), 11. Paul Sullivan. Subs: 12. Brad Lewis (for Thomas, 66), 14. Danny Blackwell (for McCrystal, 71), 15. Connor Scott (for Warner, 69), 16. Ramone Henry, 17. Danny Carter. Joint managers: Robert Morris and Paul Sullivan.

Bewdley Town (blue/blue/blue): 1. Darren Steadman, 2. Dan Jones, 3. Mike Hyde, 4. Sean Wright (capt), 5. Rich Costello, 6. Craig Webb, 7. Sam Watkins, 8. Rob Orme, 9. Chris Hough, 10. Rich Burgess, 11. Dan Flowers. Subs: 12. Dan Gittens (for Jones, 75), 14. Dan Sinton (for Flowers, 43), 15. Alex Taffe (for Steadman, 35), 16. Russ Godfrey (not used), 17. Simon Rudd (not used). Joint managers: Craig Payton and Brian Laley.

Referee: Tom Keady.
Assistants: C. T. Lunn and S. J. Rodgers.

0-1 Rich Costello (5)
0-2 Dan Flowers (24)
0-3 Dan Flowers (41)

Wednesfield: Ian Boswell (YC, 15), Lee Butler (YC, 33), Anton Johns (YC, 35)
Bewdley: none