It was top versus bottom at Smithswood this weekend as they took on Handsworth. With double points in the Fantasy Football up for grabs everyone was hoping for a good performance from the boys.
There were two changes from last week’s winning team against Boldmere. Mark Harber was back in goal while Daniel Wall dropped to the bench as Craig Evans moved into midfield and Simon Hession replaced the injured Carl Thompson up front.
Smithswood came out of the traps quickly and got into the opposition from the first whistle. They were amazing for the first twenty minutes and Handsworth didn’t know what had hit them.
They were 1-0 up within two minutes as they worked the ball down the wing and into Anderson. He laid the ball off to Short who hit an unbelievable screamer from 25 yards which the keeper had no chance of saving. A brilliant start for Short with his third goal of the season and an early contender for goal of the season.
Smithswood were two up five minutes later with another fantastic goal. Harris got the ball wide and fed Hession who was one on one with the defender. He shifted the ball to the right and hit a thunderbolt of a shot, which had the keeper beat hands down. Twice in five minutes he had been beaten by two quality strikes.
Things didn’t get any better for the keeper as Smithswood were 3-0 up five minutes later with their third contender for goal of the season in one game. This time Evans got the assist as he played the ball into Harris in a similar position to their second goal. Harris showed his quality with a Cruyff turn and then as per his nickname in the Charity Darts match the night before, hammers the ball past the despairing dive of the keeper who was again beaten by a class finish.
Smithswood were cruising and after twenty minutes it just seemed a matter of how many they would get but they fell asleep and let Handsworth back into it before half time. Their first goal came half way through the half when a cross found their striker unmarked in the box and it was 3-1.
They gave themselves a chance five minutes from the end of the first half when they found one of their players unmarked in the area again. This time Harber got down well to save the first shot but the rebound beat him and it was 3-2 at half time.
Ryder got into his team at half time. He wanted them to get the ball down and pass it and to keep their positions as so many times they were winning the first ball but losing the second by being out of position. He pointed out that too many of them were not performing to their usual standard and they needed to up their game.
Things didn’t improve for Smithswood early in the second half and the equaliser they were fearing came on 67 minutes. Handsworth launched a long throw into the box and their defender got up ahead of the advancing Harber to make it 3-3.
Despite Smithswood being far from their best they still had plenty of chances in this game. They had three goals disallowed for being off-side as Harris and Hession (twice )were denied by the linesman’s flag. Evans could have had a hat-trick himself as he twice got above the defence from corners only to head wide. Another corner saw Harris flick it on and Evans connect at full stretch on the half volley only to see the ball bounce back off the bar.
One positive from the game was Else who constantly bombarded forward from right back and was a constant threat to Handsworth as he attacked them time and time again. He was positive all game and created lots of chances with his crosses and runs.
There were individual battles all over the pitch but the most interesting one was between Treadwell on the sidelines and the Handsworth number 12 at the back. They had a constant battle throughout the whole game with Treadwell kindly offering to knock him out and put him on the gravel and giving him an honest opinion on how bad he thought he was as a player. Fair play to number 12 as he was quick to remind Treadwell he was on the sideline and not in the game like him. Unfortunately for Treadwell it was the big number 12 who got the equaliser for Handsworth.
It seemed as if Smithswood were going to have to settle for a draw but they dug in and kept battling to the end. They say the sign of a good team is when they can win playing badly and still pick up the three points. Smithswood proved this is the case five minutes before time as Evans put a ball through to Hession who kept his cool and slammed the ball past the keeper to make it 4-3.
A game Smithswood will want to both remember and forget. They will want to remember the amazing goals they scored which were of the highest quality but forget how bad they played and let the opposition get back into the game with sloppy goals.
These three points saw Smithswood go four points clear at the top of the table
Around the League:
Wake Green 0 Boldmere 5
St Georges Warriors 2 Athletic Sparkhill 1
CPA 0 Walsall Phoenix 3
AFC Somers 0 Old Wulfrunians 1