Nine out of nine for the Badgers

Tuesday 10th September 2013
Brocton 2 Lichfield City 1
St Mary’s Hospice Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Silkmore Lane, Stafford
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (36 pages)

It turned out to be a good night for football in Stafford with positive news from the Badgers, Town and Rangers. Brocton returned to the top of the Premier Division table with a hard-fought victory 2-1 over Lichfield City which extended their 100% league record to six wins. Stafford Town recorded a 4-0 home victory over Pelsall Villa and Stafford Rangers, with Andy Mutch in temporary charge, picked up their first point of the season thanks to a 2-2 draw at home to Marine.

The Badgers have made an awesome start to the season by winning every one of the eight league and cup games they’ve played, including a victory over tonight’s opponents Lichfield in the Vase three days ago.

WON Sat 10 Aug – Brocton 4 Coventry Copsewood 0
WON Tues 13 Aug – Pelsall Villa 1 Brocton 7
WON Sat 17 Aug – Nuneaton Griff 2 Brocton 3 (FA Cup)
WON Sat 24 Aug – Littleton 1 Brocton 3
WON Mon 26 Aug – Brocton 4 Stafford Town 1
WON Sat 31 Aug – Brocton 6 Ellesmere Rangers 0 ( FA Cup)
WON Tue 3 Sep – Atherstone Town 2 Brocton 4
WON AFTER EXTRA TIME Sat 7 Sep – Lichfield City 3 Brocton 4 (FA Vase aet)

The game on Saturday sounds like it was a real cracker of a cup tie, settled in extra time by the odd goal in seven at Brownsfield Road with David Abelwhite’s penalty.

However, despite their 100% record, Brocton went into tonight’s derby in 3rd position with 15 points from 5 games. The top two, Littleton and Southam United, held a one-point advantage having played nine and eight games, respectively. Lichfield arrived at Silkmore Lane in 14th position in the 19 team Premier Division table with 9 points from 9 games.

Despite having plenty of games to choose from, a quartet of local groundhoppers including ‘Cannock Rob’ and ‘Rugeley Mugsy’ had the same idea as me by heading to what on paper looked an intriguing contest – and that is what it turned out to be from start to finish.

Brocton (in green and white) got the game underway defending the changing rooms end in the first half. It was good to see captain Matt Skinner in the side and prolific goalscorer Paul McMahon played up front alongside a new name to me in Jack Lees.

Watching the first half (unusually) from between the dugouts rather than the stand, I felt Lichfield posed quite a threat during the first half hour. Liam Holt and Kyle Minto both forced smart saves out of Brocton’s in-form goalkeeper Adam Whitehouse and Minto fired against the bar as well.

Brocton, however, took the lead shortly before the interval. Following a foul on McMahon by Todd Perry, Craig Hulme delivered the resulting free-kick from the left to the far post where McMahon headed the ball across the face of goal. Liam Haycock took full advantage to slot home at the far post.

A set piece led to Lichfield’s equaliser scored in the 58th minute. Holt sent a long-range free-kick into the area which struck the head of Gary Fife and flew past Whitehouse.

Controversy twice reigned around the 70th minute when referee Dragon Kusmanovic awarded Brocton two penalties in as many minutes. The first one, for a push on McMahon, resulted in a great save by Craig Johnson to keep out Fife’s spot kick. McMahon put the rebound over the bar. Saturday’s hero Dave Abelwhite stepped up to take the second one after Ash Bennett brought down Sam Bell inside the area. Like the Vase game, he fired the ball past Johnson to score what proved to be the winner.

Lichfield should have snatched a point in the closing stages. Holt crossed from the right but unchallenged Minto sent a free header wide of the target.

On top of the table with six league wins out of six, Brocton travel to Halesowen on Saturday for their first-ever FA Cup First Qualifying Round tie. The Badgers are really buzzing [if I can use a bee-related adjective in connection with a four-legged black and white creature].

Brocton (green with white sleeves / white / green): 1. Adam Whitehouse, 2. David Abelwhite, 3. Matt Skinner (capt), 4. Rob Tomlinson, 5. Dale Roberts, 6. Charlie Jones, 7. Sam Bell, 8. Liam Haycock, 9. Jack Lees, 10. Paul McMahon, 11. Craig Hulme. Subs: 12. Gary Fife (for Haycock, ht), 14. Damien Charie (for Lees, 71), 15. Mark Cooper (not used), 16. Jethro Jarrett (for McMahon, 79), 17. Mick Fox (not used). Manager: John Berks.

Lichfield City (red/red/red): 1. Craig Johnson, 19. Richard Deaville, 3. Jon Huckfield, 4. Todd Perry (capt), 5. Dan McLeod, 6. Dan Worrall, 18. Ash Bennett, 8. Dan Thurnstance, 9. Kyle Minto, 10. Liam Holt, 11. Ollie Budd. Subs: 12. Sam Griffin (not used), 14. Chris Milner (for Budd, 79), 15. Ross Adams (not used). Manager: Paul Holt.

Referee: Dragon Kuzmanovic
Assistants: James Cox and Phil Magness

Attendance: 50 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:35; second-half: 47:31

1-0 Liam Haycock (38)
1-1 Gary Fife (63 og)
2-1 David Abelwhite (71 pen)

Brocton: none
Lichfield: Todd Perry (YC, 71)