Wolverhampton Casuals 4 Darlaston Town 2

Tuesday 18th December 2012
Wolverhampton Casuals 4 Darlaston Town 2
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Brinsford Lane, Coven
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 50 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 46:05; second-half: 47:26

This was my first visit of the season to Brinsford Lane and I saw Wolverhampton Casuals move up into third position in the Premier Division table with a 4-2 victory over bottom side Darlaston Town. After Joe Clayton gave the visitors a surprise lead on the quaret-hour mark, Casuals hit back with three unanswered goals from leading scorer Mark Bellingham, Angelo Franco and Luke Tudor. Darlaston reduced the deficit through Emmanuel Gueyes before Casuals wrapped up the win with a fourth goal from Tom Maydew.

Casuals (4th with 44 points from 20 games) went into this game in need of a win to keep in touch with leaders Black Country Rangers after picking up just one point from their last two league games. Opponents Darlaston (22nd with 4 points from 20 games) had lost their last twelve league games and picked up their solitary win on the opening day of the season.

Teams were announced over the PA (I’d obtained them earlier from a helpful club official) and I took my place in the stand (four rows of benches) just before kick-off.

Wolverhampton Casuals (in green and white) got the game underway attacking the ‘A449 end’, left to right in relation to my seat in the stand. While the league table suggested otherwise, the opening 15 minutes were fairly even though Casuals’ Mark Bellingham headed the best chance over the bar from a few yards out.

Poor defending in the 15th minute allowed Darlaston to take the lead. No one took responsibility for dealing with Dale Blackham’s low cross from the left and Joe Clayton fired home at the far post.

Casuals got back on level terms within three minutes. Bellingham got the better of two defenders before burying the ball in the bottom-left corner past the diving Steve Booth.

Booth, a former Casuals player, kept out a shot from Bellingham and in the next attack, Tom Maydew hit the right-hand post. The home side started to dominate like a side chasing promotion and took the lead just before the break. Craig Love delivered a right-win corner to the far post where Angelo Franco headed home.

Casuals extended their lead six minutes after the restart. Angelo Franco, on the right, crossed to the far post from where Luke Tudor ran in to head home. To their credit, Darlaston kept battling and reduced the deficit midway through the second half. A slip by Simon Rowley let in Emmanuel Gueyes who hammered the ball past the diving Henderson.

Barry Evans replaced Love in the 76th minute and his first touch, a deep cross from the left, fell to Maydew at the far post who fired home Casuals’ fourth goal.

In the closing stages, Booth produced another excellent save to turn round a shot from Bellingham and Carlo Franco failed to converted a decent chance to make it 5-2.

The win moved Casuals up one place into third place in the Premier Division table, just two points behind leaders Black Country Rangers, both having played 21 games. Second-placed Lye have a game in hand. On Saturday, Casuals entertain mid-table Wellington Amateurs who beat Sporting Khalsa 2-1 in tonight’s other game.

Wolverhampton Casuals (green and white stripes / white / green): 1. Todd Henderson, 2. Carlo Franco, 3. Luke Tudor, 4. Dan Pilgrim, 5. Simon Rowley, 6. John Clapp, 7. Tom Maydew, 8. Craig Love (capt), 9. Mark Bellingham, 10. Angelo Franco, 11. Adrian Jones. Subs: 12. Daniel Lloyd (for Clapp, ht), 14. Shaun Williams (not used), 15. Barry Evans (for Love, 76), 16. Leon Taylor (for Jones, 54), 17. George Williams (not used).

Darlaston Town (blue and white hoops / blue / blue): 1. Steve Booth, 2. Dale Blackham, 3. Lukaes Lema, 4. Dan Martin, 5. Kabamba Mukengeshayi, 6. James Higgins, 7. JJ Melligan (capt), 8. Daryl Westwood, 9. Kevin Montcheu, 10. Emmanuel Gueyes, 11. Joe Clayton. Subs: 12. Dennis Robinson (for Clayton, 57), 14. Daniel Tonks (not used), 15. Josh Cook (not used), 16. Amadou Jallow (not used), 17. Flavien Chambaud (not used).

Referee: Matthew Bond.
Assistants: Richard Booth and Jason Main.

0-1 Joe Clayton (15)
1-1 Mark Bellingham (18)
2-1 Angelo Franco (44)
3-1 Luke Tudor (51)
3-2 Emmanuel Gueyes (69)
4-2 Tom Maydew (76)

Wolves Casuals: Angelo Franco (YC, 78)
Darlaston: none