Smithswood Firs focus turned back to the league following last weeks extra time loss in the Challenge Vase.
Manager, Paul Ryder decided to switch things up reverting to the 4-3-3 formation he finished last week’s game with and decided to move Captain Craig Evans up top with Andrew Glenn getting his chance at the centre of defence.
Smithswood lined up as follows;
William McKenna, Adam Rooke, Andrew Glenn, Ed Godwood
Anthony Short, Carl Thompson, Lee Harris,
Daniel Wall, Adam Hemming,
Craig Evans (Capt.)
Subs: Carl Shiels, Nathan Leek, Chris Else, Daniel Billingsley, Renaldo Mayers
Ryder wanted his team to come out firing, as they haven’t the past few weeks. He had plenty of pace in the wide positions and wanted to get at Inkberrow. His team didn’t let him down this week and were on the attack from the first whistle. Lee Harris picked the ball up in the middle and played Adam Hemming in out wide. Hemming whipped a cross in looking for Craig Evans but the keeper just managed to get it before he could head at goal.
Evans did get his header off a few minutes later from an Anthony Short corner but it was cleared off the line as Smithswood piled the pressure on Inkberrow. A minute later they had the breakthrough from another Anthony Short corner. Craig Evans won the header again knocking it down into the path of Carl Thompson who buried the ball into the back of the net to give Smithswood the lead.
Craig Evans tried to test the keeper a few minutes later when he took an Anthony Short pass just in side the area and attempted an overhead kick but the keeper saved it easily.
Smithswood then took their foot off the gas. They had really taken the game to Inkberrow but after the first goal their passing just wasn’t as sharp and they didn’t create any real chances until ten minutes before the interval. Will McKenna whipped a cross in to Craig Evans who again beat the defender to the ball to flick it on to the wide-open Lee Harris who looked certain to score with a powerful shot but the last man somehow managed to get his body in front of it to deflect it over.
At half-time the Manager wanted to revert back to 4-4-2 as he was worried that his team weren’t keeping the ball enough and that Inkberrow always seemed to have a man over against his full backs. The team voiced their opinions and wanted to stick with the 4-3-3 as they thought it was working okay so Smithswood between them agreed to stick with the 4-3-3 formation for the second half. One thing they all agreed on was that they had to lift their game in the second half. While Inkberrow hadn’t created any chances, neither had Smithswood with the exception of the first eight and last ten minutes. They needed to dictate the pace of the game more and be more positive as a team.
Craig Evans was struggling early on and had to be replaced by Nathan Leek, which meant a re-shuffle with Anthony Short moving back up front. The injuries didn’t stop there and Ryder was forced into two further changes following injuries with Chris Else and Carl Shiels replacing Daniel Wall and Carl Thompson.
The changes seemed to give Smithswood a little bit more life and they started to control the ball more in midfield, something they hadn’t done for the first half of the second half. Adam Hemming battled hard to keep the ball down the right and knocked it above the defender for Will McKenna who made a surging run onto it and almost got in behind the last man winning his team a corner. Carl Shiels whipped in a quality corner for Chris Else who headed the ball against the cross bar.
Adam Rooke was next to be denied as he met a Nathan Leek free kick but his header was saved by the keeper to deny him. Carl Shiels had been impressive in the holding role since he came on and again made an interception just after and came out with the ball playing in Nathan Leek who unleashed a 25 yard shot that went wide.
As Smithswood couldn’t get the second goal they were always leaving themselves open to Inkberrow catching them on the break and scoring with one attack and it almost happened in the last five minutes but for Andrew Glenn making a great last ditch challenge. Glenn had been fantastic all game clearing everything that came into the box along with the whole defence who had again looked solid at the back giving up very few chances in the game.
Nathan Leek picked up a late booking as Smithswood saw the game out to take the three points and make it five wins out of five in the league.
While it wasn’t the best Smithswood performance of the season, it was still three points and a clean sheet. There were still some positives today for Paul Ryder to take away from the game. In spells they kept the ball well and created some clear chances, which on another day would have gone in rather than hit the bar or be deflected over. They showed that they can create chances in this 4-3-3 formation and they seemed to enjoy it.
His defence was solid again with Andrew Glenn putting in a man of the match performance coming back into the back four which is the best in the league having conceded only one goal in five games.
The negatives were the injuries, which could roll over into next week’s games as the manager sweats on Craig Evans and Carl Thompson following their knocks.
Next week sees Smithswood travel to Perrywood.