Home league match played on 31 December 2016.
Kicked off at 2:00 PM

Those who braved the cold weather on New Year’s Eve were treated to some fantastic non-league football at The Glades as Smithswood Firs took on Bloxwich Town.

Boxing Day’s drab 1-1 draw with Continental Star had produced no chances from open play but this game was totally the opposite as both teams went for three points and produced some mesmerising attacking football.

Smithswood Firs started the better of the two teams and penned Bloxwich back early on. Tyron Smith fired narrowly over the bar from a quality Curtis Thomas free-kick which was a warning for the travelling Bloxwich side.

The first goal came ten minutes in and it was a move of great quality by Smithswood. Curtis Thomas won the ball back in midfield and threaded a great ball through for Sam Hulme. Hulme twisted the defender one way before coming back inside on to his right and then calmly slotted the ball past the keeper for the opener.

The football on display was excellent as both teams tried to keep it on the floor and play in the right way. 

The home said were in control of the early exchanges though and were two up thanks to Tyron Smith five minutes later. Curtis Thomas was involved once again as he sprayed a ball wide to Smith who played a great one two with Sam Hulme to get in behind the defence and then calmly rounded the keeper to slot home number ten of the season for him.

Bloxwich were almost three down from a Curtis Thomas free-kick which went straight through everyone and looked to be bouncing into the top corner but the keeper made a great save to push it over. He couldn’t do anything about a Chris Else shot shortly after as he was beaten but Else’s shot was cleared off the line to prevent the third again as both teams were tested defensively.

Bloxwich came into the game more in the last fifteen minutes and had three great chances beating the off-side trap in all of them but Lewis Cottrill made excellent saves to keep them out.

It was end to end though and Tyron Smith thought he had a second after beating three players and bending a low shot with the outside of his right foot towards the bottom corner. The keeper was beaten and his brother Troy Smith tapped in far post for what he thought was his first goal for the club but the linesman had his flag up for off-side.

Curtis Thomas went inches from making it three after Lewis Cottrill put him clear with a fantastic long ball in behind the defence. The Smithswood skipper calmly dinked the ball over the keeper but Bloxwich again cleared off the line with some great tracking back.

Sam Hulme was causing problems up top and beat three defenders to lay the ball back to Tyron Smith who connected really well but saw his near post shot deflected away by both the keeper and Troy Smith who couldn’t get out the way.

It stayed at 2-0 at the half but if it wasn’t for the keepers and goal line clearances it could easily have been 5-3. It was a great advert for our League and the football being played at our level.

The second half started the same as the first as it was end to end with both keepers in the thick of the action early on. Sam Hulme had a shot deflected wide after more great work from Tyron Smith to create the chance for the home side.

The third goal finally came and it was the dominant midfield duo of Curtis Thomas and Martin Crawford that combined for it. Curtis Thomas was involved from the start and ended up knocking the ball down on the edge of the area for Crawford who hit a bullet shot low into the bottom corner for his tenth of the season.

Crawford almost got a second when Sam Hulme worked a cross in from the left but his foot was inches away as he slid in to try and direct it into the net. He was in on goal again when Troy Smith broke down the right and crossed in but the keeper saved down low.

Bloxwich got a deserved goal to make it 3-1 from a free header in the box. It was directly at Lewis Cottrill who saved it and fell to the ground but the linesman waved his flag to say it was over the line and the away side were back in it.

It was the home side’s turn to defend as Bloxwich went looking for the second and produced another save from Cottrill as he tipped over from a free-kick.

They weathered the five-minute onslaught and then put the game to bed with their fourth. Troy Smith held the ball up on the edge of the area and then played it wide to Martin Crawford who whipped the ball over for Trea Bertie who controlled it first time and finished nicely in the bottom corner.

The away side didn’t give up though and produced the save of the game from Lewis Cottrill just after the goal. Cottrill had come for the first ball so was slightly ahead of the attacker when it fell to him with an open goal beckoning. As he shot towards goal thinking it was in, Cottrill dived about three feet from the players right with his arm out stretched and managed to tip the shot up onto the bar to stop what looked like a certain goal. It was a wonder save and had everyone applauding from the side and the Bloxwich players wondering how they hadn't got one back.

The home side made it 5-1 when substitute Lee Sayer was put in by a 40-yard ball from Nathan Leek. Sayer beat the off-side trap and coolly chipped the ball over the advancing keeper.

It was a brilliant display from the home side with some great attacking football but credit has to go to Bloxwich Town also who could have had more goals on the day if not for Lewis Cottrill.

Both teams can go away with confidence at the football they produced which was a great advert for non-league football and our Division.

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