Smithswood took on their toughest opponents so far this pre-season with their trip to fellow Midland Football League team, Chelmsley Town. With them being a division higher this was always going to be a tough test for the new look Firs.
Following last weeks mistake by Stephen Shenton where he thought he was playing for an under 9 team and turned up wearing his kit, he made sure that he wasn't going to be the focus of another ribbing this week by turning up in his normal clothes. The only problem was they turned out to be a pair of salmon pink shorts and matching cap so after the game the ribbing continued. Shenton also made a request to appear more in the match report so that his missus knows he actually does play for a team so here you go mate. You would have got a mention for your perfmormance but as you only lasted 11 minutes this was the only way you were going to get in the match report.
Paul Ryder was missing Billingsley, Challinor, Morris, Morton, Thompson, Thomas and Wall for todays but still had a strong eighteen players to choose from. He went with an adventurous 4-3-3 formation with the starting line up of
McKenna, Rooke, Shenton, Godwood
Harris, Leek, Shiels
Short, Evans, Hemming
Subs: Grogan, Sheldrake, Glenn, Else, Mayers, Taylor, Anderson,
Both teams started with attacking intentions as they both tried to pass the ball on the freshly mowed surface. Chelmsley Town's midfield and attackers showed some fantastic movement off the ball which caused Smithswood some problems early on as they spun in behind the defence but once the lads had settled they were much more comfortbale. At the other end Smithswood were also causing some problems with their front three and midfielders supporting from midfield. They were closing well and Anthony Short managed to steal the ball from the full back and pass it in to Lee Harris who fired over the bar. Anthony Short and Adam Hemmings worked hard in the attacking wide positions depsite them not being used to playing there.
Neither team were holding back as the tackles were flying in and it was a really competitive game. Unfortunately, Stephen Shenton come off worse in one of them early in the game and couldn't shake the knock off so had to be substituted only 11 minutes into the game with Andrew Glenn replacing him.
Chelmelsy Town took the lead 15 minutes in. Manager Paul Ryder wasn't happy as it was from a Smithswood Firs throw in. Chelmsley Town won the ball and broke quickly down the right wing. An inch perfect cross was met with an equally good header giving David Stratford no chance.
The rest of the half was pretty even with both teams restricting each other to long range efforts. The tackles continued to fly in though and Lee Harris was on the end of what looked like a dangerous tackle but the referee didn't see it that way. Lee Harris was then given a talking to shortly after as he went flying into a tackle leaving their midfielder on the ground.
Chemsley Town lead at the half 1-0 but it was a really even game and Smithswood were trying to use their front three to split the defence with Lee Harris breaking to support from midefiled and Nathan Leek and Carl Shiels starting the attacks from the middle. Despite the goal the defence had been solid since conceeding with Adam Rooke and Andrew Glenn controlling them and William McKenna and Ed Godwood getting forward whenever they could. David Stratford had made a few saves but they were easy long range efforts.
Paul Ryder made a few changes at half time switching Jake Grogan for David Stratford, Aaron Anderson for Adam Hemming and Stuart Taylor for Lee Harris.
The second half kicked off in pouring rain, thunder and lightning as all the subs huddled in the dugout with its metal roof not feeling very safe at all.
Jake Grogan was quickly into the action five minutes in with an unbelievable save. Their midfielder bent a curling shot that was heading into the top corner, but Grogan was quick to react and made a great save at full stretch. Smithswood had a really good spell though at the start of the second half. Carl Shiels played the ball into Craig Evans' feet who held it up well and played it into the path of the advancing William McKenna who fired just over the bar.
Adam Rooke and Andrew Glenn continued to be solid at the back and Adam Rooke cleared off his line twice, once blocking a shot with his chest before clearing. Stuart Taylor was supporting the front three like Lee Harris had in the first half and unleashed a 25 yard shot that was just deflected wide by the defender.
Smithswood made some more changes with half an hour to go as Renaldo Mayers, Chris Else and Robert Sheldrake came on for William McKenna, Carl Shiels and Nathan Leek. Mayers went wide right as Anthony Short moved back into his preferred central role in midfield.
Jake Grogan was called upon again as Chelmsley Town managed to play a ball in behind the back four as their forward was one on one with Grogan. The shot was hard and low but Grogan was down quickly to deflect it clear.
Lee Harris replaced Anthony Short on 77 mins and three minutes later, Robert Sheldrake picked up a knock and had to be replaced by William McKenna.
Smithswood pressed on for the equaliser in the last 10 minutes as Stuart Taylor, Lee Harris and Chris Else tried to support Aaron Anderson, Craig Evans and Renaldo Mayers in the final third. Mayers and Anderson got in behind the full backs a few times and crossed but the Firs couldn't find that one goal they required. The fear when chasing a game is that you are hit on the break as you attack and Chelmsley Town killed the game off with a few minutes to go as another through ball was this time finished neatly in the bottom corner.
Chelmsley Town run our 2-0 winners at the final whistle but Smithswood Firs competed well with them in all areas on the pitch.
The Firs play again next Wednesday at home against St Johns at The Sedgemere Social