Bilston Town 1 Sutton Coldfield Town 1

Wednesday 9th January 2013
Bilston Town 1 Sutton Coldfield Town 1
(Sutton won 5-4 on penalties, no extra time)
Walsall Senior Cup Quarter Finals
At: Queen Street, Bilston
Kick-off: 8-25pm (delayed by 40 minutes)
Admission: £3; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: cold, foggy
Attendance: 120
Duration (45): first-half: 45:10: second-half: 48:06

Sutton Coldfield Town booked their place in the last four of the Walsall Senior Cup, winning 5-4 on penalties against Bilston Town at a foggy Queen Street after the tie finished 1-1 after 90 minutes. Because of a 40-minute delay caused by floodlight failure, the game didn’t kick off until around 8-25 pm and by the 23rd minute both sides had found the net. Nick Turton’s opener for Bilston was cancelled out by Reece Leek. Neither side could find a winner during the second half and sensibly the tie went straight to penalties because of the time, 10-10 pm, and thickening fog. The Steelmen had third penalty saved while all the other nine were converted so Sutton won the shoot-out 5-4. The Royals join Walsall FC in the semi finals who won 2-0 at Walsall Wood last night.

I’ve got Tim on the Non-League Matters Forum to thank for flagging up this game and tempting me into a short trip down the M6 to the Black Country when I’d decided to give a midweek game a miss.

Bilston are really on the up at the moment and remain top of West Midlands (Regional) League Division One with an unbeaten record (15 wins and two draws from 17 games). Tonight, as one contributor to the programme highlighted ‘It’s the first time in many years that we can welcome Southern League (sic) opposition to Queen Street’. I know what he means even though visitors Sutton Coldfield Town are members of Evo-Stik League Northern Premier Division One South, three promotions above The Steelmen. Bilston and Sutton were regular opponents over many seasons 10–25 years ago.

I love Queen Street with that fabulous tangerine-painted main stand, a relic from a past non-league era and long may it continue to look over the playing surface. Perhaps that love of Queen Street is shared by others as quite a few groundhoppers – Ratty, Rob, Mugsy, Coxey and Tim to name a few – were also at the game. The announcer allowed us to copy down the line-ups (much appreciated) before reading them out to a crowd that numbered over one hundred, many wearing tangerine and white scarves.

Around five minutes before kick-off, as the teams assembled in the tunnel, ‘pop’ – out went the floodlights! Fortunately, an electrician was called out to replace a blown fuse and the game got underway 40 minutes late around 8-25 pm. Bilston (in tangerine) kicked-off attacking the left-hand goal in relation to my seat in the stand.

Bilston took the lead in the 6th minute. Nick Turton took the ball into the area on the right, beating two defenders before firing into the far left-side of the net to score his 21st league and cup goal of the season. “There’s only one Nicky Turton,” sang the delighted home fans sat in the stand.

The lead lasted until midway through the first half. Louis Keenan crossed from the left into the area where Reece Leek rose to head past Bilston goalkeeper Ben Astley.

So 1-1 at half-time.

I found out the expected news that my raffle ticket (556–560) was unsurprisingly not the winner (581–585) so still nothing to add to my last prize of a Cheryl Cole poster and head massager won at Aberystwyth University ten months ago.

On a more positive note, I hope the half-time bucket collection for cancer research was well supported.

Sutton could have taken the lead a couple of minutes after the restart but Astley’s boot got in the way of Luke Chapman’s shot. Astley produced another save to block a shot from substitute Ben Lund while, in the 69th minute, Keenan’s free-kick hit the far left-hand post.

The Bilston fan set next to me – a lady who’d only recently started watching the Steelmen – started to get worried and commented that it was “getting a bit precarious”.

Astley continued to produce saves to keep in his in contention and pushed a curling effort from Chapman round for a corner.

Then, in the 89th minute, Sutton thought they had scored the winner. From Craig Milligan’s corner, a header from Joel Kettle was blocked by a defender. The ball rebounded to Kristian Ramsey-Dickson who powered a header onto the underside of the bar and Astley somehow prevented it from crossing the line.

I don’t know if extra time is used for drawn Walsall Senior Cup. Whatever the rule, sensibly, extra time was skipped – good news bearing in mind the time and fog.

Taken at the left-hand end nearest the entrance, both sides converted their first two penalties (all left-footed) before Daniel Westwood had his saved by Jake Bedford. All the remaining penalties were converted with Sutton’s Scott Lycett scoring the match-winner at 10-20 pm.

Bilston Town (tangerine/white/tangerine): 1. Ben Astley, 2. Neil Evans, 3. Leon Pugh (capt), 4. Rhys Hall, 5. Chad McCormack, 6. Neil Eccleston, 7. Matty Rutter, 8. Lee Onions, 9. Nick Turton, 10. Stuart Skitt, 11. Jamall Pinnock. Subs: 12. Daniel Westwood (for Pinnock, 67), 14. Matt Curley (for Turton, 85), 15. John Griffiths (for Rutter, 58), 16. Ryan Trumpeter (for Rutter, 73), 19gk. Karl Frankham (not used). Manager: Andy Rutter.

Sutton Coldfield Town (blue/blue/blue): 1. Jake Bedford, 2. Scott Lycett (capt), 3. Louis Keenan, 4. Craig Milligan, 5. Joel Kettle, 6. Jamie Murrall, 7. Reece Leek, 8. Jamie Sheldon, 9. Kristian Ramsey-Dickson, 10. Mark Danks, 11. Luke Chapman. Subs: 12. Danny Edwards (for Leek, 63), 14. Phil Male (for Murrall, ht), 15. Ben Lund (for Danks, 63), 16. Andy Ling (not used), 17gk. Lee Evans (not used). Manager: Neil Tooth.

Referee: Dave Kerrigan.
Assistants: Alan Sheffield and Glyn Thomas.

1-0 Nick Turton (6)
1-1 Reece Leek (23)

1-0 Leon Pugh SCORED
1-1 Louis Keenan SCORED
2-1 Stuart Skitt SCORED
2-2 Craig Milligan SCORED
2-2 Daniel Westwood SAVED
2-3 Luke Chapman SCORED
3-3 Lee Onions SCORED
3-4 Jamie Sheldon SCORED
4-4 Ryan Trumpeter SCORED
4-5 Scott Lycett SCORED

Bilston: Chad McCormack (YC, 26)
SCT: Mark Danks (YC, 53), Reece Leek (YC, 59)