Wolves Casuals 4 Wellington Amateurs 1

Tuesday 5th March 2013
Forget Man United v Real Madrid, the game to be at tonight was ‘El M54ico’. Wolverhampton Casuals again hit the goal trail with leading scorer Mark Bellingham bagging a second-half brace in a 4-1 victory over Wellington Amateurs. In an open first half, Sean Williams gave Cassies the lead towards the end of the first which Bellingham doubled just before the hour mark. The visitors pulled a goal back with a penalty from Gavin Davies after Bekhir Halil handled inside the area. Any Casuals nerves were calmed as Matt Bailey and Bellingham again scored two quick goals to put the outcome beyond doubt.

Wolverhampton Casuals 4 Wellington Amateurs 1
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Brinsford Lane, Coven
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (20 pages)
Weather: mild, misty, no wind

Since my last visit to Brinsford Lane four weeks ago when Black Country Rangers were thumped 5-0, Casuals have remained unbeaten with two wins and two draws, all away from home. However, with the teams around them involved in the title race all catching up with their games in hand, Casuals slipped to fifth position with 61 points from 28 games, nine points behind leaders Lye Town (70 points from 28 games). So a win tonight was vital against a Wellington Amateurs side in 10th position with 36 points from 24 games.

I don’t like tight journeys to anywhere, especially when the match or event has a fixed starting time. So, tonight turned out to be a bit more hectic than normal as a late-running family commitment meant I didn’t arrive at Brinsford Lane until 7-25 pm. Still, there was time to flick through the programme (on sale at the gate) and obtain the line-ups from the PA announcer (always much appreciated), though no pre-match tweets.

I think I’m correct in saying that Casuals and Ams have never previously faced each other in a league game, despite the two grounds being only around 20 miles apart. Casuals have been continuous members of the Premier Division since 1995 while Ams are playing their first-ever season in the Premier Division and only joined the West Midlands (Regional) League in 2006. This season’s league meeting at School Grove is still to be arranged.

May be José Mourinho was right that ‘the world will stop to watch’ the Champions League game from Old Trafford on TV. Wolves were also playing tonight away at Millwall so when Casuals (in green and white) got the game underway attacking the A449 end, I had just one other person for company in the stand and sparsely-occupied spots at pitch-side. I say, forget the games on TV, get out and support local non-league football.

Casuals were close to opening the scoring in the 7th minute. From the right inside the area, Sean Williams fired a low shot towards goal which Amateur goalkeeper Steve Bray blocked. The ball ran free and Mark Bellingham was one of two forwards who saw shots hit defenders in front of goal.

Like Casuals, Ams also made a bright and lively start as well. A diagonal ball forward to the left side of the area fell at the feet of Andy Rich who shot low across the face of goal.

A nice move midway through the half finished with a rising shot from Matt Bailey which flew over the bar. “Well done Cassies,” shouted one fan who added, “that’s good”.

An altercation in front of the dugouts in the 35th minute followed the referee not quickly stopping the game to allow treatment for an injured Ams player. The visitors assistant manager was ‘sent off’ and the injured player, Jaton Vernon, was unable to continue.

Casuals eventually broke the deadlock four minutes later. The impressive Sean Williams exchanged passes with Tom Maydew inside the area and fired a rising left-foot shot past Bray.

Not that statistics bother me but the first goal I’d seen in roughly 159 minutes of football.

Now attacking the A449 end, Ams went close to an equaliser within four minutes of the restart. Gavin Davies put Rich clear but Todd Henderson blocked the resulting low shot with his boot. In the next attack, it was Davies’ turn to get forward and fired a rising shot over the bar.

Having survived, Casuals doubled their lead in the 57th minute. Sean Williams crossed deep from the right to the far post where Bellingham volleyed home.

Ams gained a lifeline back into the game when Bekhir Halil was handled a shot from Sean Hennessey inside the area. Mr Kerrigan immediately pointed to the spot and, after the defender was booked, Davies sent Henderson the wrong way with the resulting penalty. So, it was now 2-1 in the 72nd minute and potentially nervous times for the Cassies.

Casuals also demanded a penalty a few minutes later but Mr Kerrigan waived play on when Bellingham went down inside the area.

Any thoughts Ams had of grabbing a point ended with two quick goals for Casuals which took the score from 2-1 to 4-1.

Good work on the right by Dean Clarke led to a low near-post cross which Bellingham flicked on for Bailey to sidefoot home from a few yards out in the 81st minute.

Bellingham scored his second goal to put the outcome beyond doubt two minutes later, heading home from a right-wing cross.

Casuals scored five goals on my last visit and almost did the same during the closing stages. Bray saved from Bailey and the hardworking Angelo Franco, back after three months out injured, fired over the bar from Clarke’s pass. Bellingham, eying a hat-trick, hammered a first-time volley just wide of the target as well.

The win lifted Casuals up into fourth place in the table, six points behind leaders Lye Town but having played a game more. They will be looking for another win on Saturday when they visit Bromyard Town.

Tonight’s Premier Division results: Black Country Rangers v Wolverhampton SC abandoned at 1-0; Darlaston Town 0 Bewdley Town 2; Malvern Town 1 Wellington 0; Wolverhampton Casuals 4 Wellington Amateurs 1; Wednesfield 2 Sporting Khalsa 0

Wolverhampton Casuals (green and white stripes / white / green): 1. Todd Henderson, 2. Bekhir Halil, 3. Adrian Jones, 4. Angelo Franco, 5. Daniel Lloyd, 6. George Williams, 7. Tom Maydew, 8. Carig Love (capt), 9. Mark Bellingham, 10. Matt Bailey, 11. Sean Williams. Subs: 12. Luke Tudor (for Lloyd, 60), 14. Dean Clarke (for Love, 65), 15. Danny Rolfe (not used), 16. Barry Evans (not used), 17. Chris Henry (for Maydew, 67). Manager: Carl Abbott.

Wellington Amateurs (red/black/black): 1. Steve Bray, 2. Rob Costello, 3. Ash Hammond, 4. Sean Hennessey, 5. Mike Sheridan, 6. David Andrewartha (capt), 7. Jaton Vernon, 8. Mark Adamczyk, 9. Andy Rich, 10. Chris Brownlow, 11. Gavin Davies. Subs: 12. Rob Eastment (not used), 14. Lee Scott (for Rich, 57), 15. Stuart Lewis (not used), 16. Jamie King (for Vernon, 37). Manager: Mike Armstrong.

Referee: J. Kerrigan.
Assistants: P. A. Brown and J. F. Clements.

Attendance: 20 (headcount)

Duration (45): first-half: 48:45; second-half: 47:58

1-0 Sean Williams (39)
2-0 Mark Bellingham (57)
2-1 Gavin Davies (72 pen)
3-1 Matt Bailey (81)
4-1 Mark Bellingham (83)

Casuals: George Williams (YC, 45+3), Bekhir Halil (YC, 72), Matt Bailey (YC, 75)
Wellington: none