Smithswood Firs turned their focus from last weeks Cup trip to Bromsgrove back to the league today with the visit to the Mackadown pitch of Enville Athletic. Smithswood knew that if they could re-produce the performance they put in last week they would have no trouble extending their unbeaten run in the league. There is always a worry that you perform better against higher quality teams so Paul Ryder was eager to get his team focused on the game and not rush their football.
Smithswood lined up with the following team:
McKenna, Evans (Capt.), Rooke, Glenn
Thomas, Leek, Hughes, Hemming
Subs: Billingsley, Else, Harris, Thompson, Wall
Smithswood started well and put Enville under pressure in the first 10 minutes but they defended well and although Smithswood played the ball around well, they didn’t create any real clear-cut chances.
Enville took the lead 11 minutes in with their first attack of the game. It came out of nothing as they picked the ball up 10 yards inside the Smithswood half. Smithswood gave him a little too much space and he cut inside and hit a 20-yard shot that hit the top of the net beating David Stratford.
Smithswood had been in control of the game but paid the price for giving Enville too much time on the ball. They almost got back on level terms within minutes as Aaron Anderson attacked down the right. He played it inside to Curtis Thomas who stopped the ball and then shifted it to his left giving him a yard of space and hit a curling shot that was heading for the bottom corner. The keeper was down quickly to save and their defender cleared it for a corner just before Anthony Short could get on the end of the rebound. From the corner the ball fell to Craig Evans who spins and shoots just over the bar.
The score stayed at 1-0 to Enville Athletic up until half time.
Paul Ryder was worried that his team was rushing everything since they had gone a goal down. They just needed to slow it down and start working the ball around the pitch more. He wanted everyone to start demanding the ball more and play their own game rather than rushing their passes.
With the exception of the goal, David Stratford, William McKenna, Adam Rooke, Craig Evans and Andrew Glenn had been solid at the back. They were sweeping up any attacks and Glenn and McKenna were stepping out of defence with the ball calmly to start Smithswood attacks. Smithswood just needed to keep the ball better going forward and get Nathan Leek, Aaron Hughes and Curtis Thomas on the ball and try and exploit Adam Hemming and Aaron Andersons pace and use Anthony Short to hold the ball up and bring the midfielders into the game.
A different Smithswood came out the second half and they dominated all over the pitch. They were quicker to the ball than Enville and almost forced a bizarre own goal early on. They closed the defence down which led to a back pass hitting the Enville bar and just going over.
Smithswood were level three minutes later with a fantastic team move. Andrew Glenn started it at the back. He played the ball in to Curtis Thomas and made a run down the left wing. Thomas found him and Glenn played an inch perfect pass in behind the last man for Aaron Anderson to run on to. He steadied himself and buried the ball in the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Curtis Thomas had been Smithswoods main threat down attacking down the right and was involved in most things they were creating. He put Aaron Anderson in just after but he fired his shot over as Smithswood pressed for the winner.
Lee Harris replaced Aaron Hughes ten minutes into the second half. Just after came a crucial incident in the game. Smithswood had been dominating but almost got caught out at the back. The ball fell in the area to the open forward who looked certain to score. As he shot William McKenna slid in to block on the goal line and keep his team on level terms.
Adam Rooke pulled up with a tight hamstring and had to be replaced by Carl Thompson.
Smithswood pushed on for the winner. Curtis Thomas whipped a great cross-field ball that picked out Lee Harris. Harris slid a ball in behind the defence and Aaron Anderson hit a shot low and wide of the goal as they looked for the winner.
Daniel Wall replaced Aaron Hughes as Smithswood looked to inject some pace down the wing moving Curtis Thomas into the middle of the pitch. Wall and Thomas linked well down the right as they created a chance a shooting chance. Thomas forced the keeper into making a great save to deny them the lead.
It looked like the pressure wouldn’t pay off as Smithswood were running out of time but with a minute to go, they got the breakthrough. Like the first goal it started at the back. Craig Evans stepped out of defence to intercept the ball and drove forward. He managed to work himself a half chance and hit a bullet shot, which the keeper saved but couldn’t hold. Aaron Anderson was first on to it and bought another save out of the keeper, which he could only parry. Anderson headed the rebound this time and it was 2-1 to Smithswood.
With the exception of their goal in the first half and the clearance off the line in the second half Smithswood had restricted Enville for most of the game and had dominated the second half. At the full time whistle the game finished Smithswood Firs 2 Enville Athletic 1 as the Firs maintained their unbeaten league record and move on to next weeks away trip to Burntwood Town.