Things didn't start well pre match for Smithswood, as the physio was kept very busy during the warm up. Firstly, Lewis Cottrill pulled up with an injury and it soon became apparent that he wouldn't be able to start in goal as he was struggling to kick with a leg injury. A quick reshuffle saw Carl Thompson start in goal and Adam Rooke slot back into the defence. Lee Harris and Anthony Short also had thigh and calf problems as the heat patches had to be put on so they could play. A late injury to Simon Shaw and Andrew Glenn having to work meant that Paul Ryder and Stephen Shenton had to name themselves on the bench and Glenn agreed to kit up when he got there after kick off should he be needed second half.
Other than the keeper switch and Andrew Glenn being replaced by Will McKenna, Paul Ryder named an unchanged team from last weeks 5-0 win at Northfield Town. The team has been in exceptional form and a lot of that is down to the line up being settled and players forming good partnerships all over the pitch.
Over Christmas we were saddened to hear of the loss of our kit man Mark Shaw's mother. Mark is loved by everyone at Smithswood so we wanted to do something in Brenda's memory so we dedicated a page to her in the match day programme and had a minutes applause before the game in her memory, which was observed excellently by both teams and supporters. The team were then set on getting the three points for Mark and also the managers wife Claire whose grandmother was Brenda.
Despite the late injuries Paul Ryder names a strong side;
Short, Rooke, Betts, McKenna
Thomas, Evans (Capt.), Harris, Anderson
Subs: Donaghey, Glenn, Ryder, Shenton, Wall
The team were really at it from the first whistle and dominated early on. They were in front within three minutes as Craig Evans slid a ball through which at first looked like the keeper would get but Simon Hession chased it down and managed to slide in and get his foot to the ball before the keeper and direct it into the net to give Smithswood the ideal start.
Five minute later Smithswood had doubled their lead with Hession this time becoming the provider. Following some good work inside the box he picked out Aaron Keen who buried the ball first time giving the keeper no chance.
Smithswood were dominating possession and creating chances and looked like they were going to score every time they attacked. Aaron Keen and Simon Hession were caught off side a few times as Smithswood went after the third goal, which came just after the half hour mark. It was an excellent team goal as Craig Evans collected the ball in midfield. He played a pass that could pick out both Aaron Keen and Curtis Thomas but Keen brilliantly let the ball go through his legs wrong footing the defender and Curtis Thomas was away. He powered into the box and clinically fired the ball into the bottom corner to complete a brilliant team move.
Smithswood were pressing high up the pitch and Simon Hession and Aaron Keen were putting the defence under pressure as soon as they had the ball and won it back a few times getting their team on the front foot. They done this for the entire 90 minutes and ran themselves into the ground.
The dressing room was upbeat at half time as Smithswood were playing some great football, dominating possession and creating lots of goal chances. Paul Ryder wanted more of the same and not to let up as there were more goals in the game for them in the second half.
Smithswood picked up where they left off the first half and really went after more goals. Leamington Hibernian defended well but eventually the fourth goal came just before the hour mark. Will McKenna moved in from the left and played in Simon Hession on the edge of the box. He had a lot to do but powered his shot from the edge of the area beating the keeper at the near post to make it 4-0.
Two minutes later it was 5-0. Aaron Keen was unlucky not to get it as he spun in the box but it was an unfortunate own goal in the end as Leamington tried to clear the ball but it deflected back in off his teammate.
Paul Ryder’s team didn’t let up and were being ruthless all over the pitch. Craig Evans and Lee Harris were dictating play in the middle while Curtis Thomas and Aaron Anderson were providing creativity and width.
They made it six a few minutes later with an excellent goal created by Aaron Anderson. He advanced forward on the right and whipped an excellent cross into the box to pick out Lee Harris’ run from midfield. Harris met the cross with a great header, which beat the keeper giving him no chance.
Leamington Hibernian were under the cosh for the whole game and the few attacks they had created had been defended excellently by Short, Rooke, Betts and McKenna at the back and Carl Thompson had been off his line quickly on a few occasions to sweep up. As Smithswood were keeping the ball so well, Anthony Short and Will McKenna were able to get forward more so they had so many attacking options going forward. Paul Ryder made two changes to give Andrew Glenn and Daniel Wall some playing time as they replaced Anthony Short and Will McKenna who had both worked tirelessly and covered a lot of ground.
Smithswood was going about their business professionally and was doing the right things in every position of the pitch and kept going at the same level for the whole 90 minutes. As the game was about to go into the last ten minutes they scored their seventh of the game. Once again Craig Evans was the creator from midfield shifting the ball in behind the full back for Aaron Keen. Keen had a lot to do from the edge of the box as the defence tracked back but he unleashed a bullet shot which was too powerful for the keeper as it hit the back of the net.
Simon Hession and Aaron Keen were both on hat-tricks and any one of them could have got their third but it wasn’t to be as their keeper made some good saves and their defence broke down a few attacks near the end. The scoring wasn’t over though as Smithswood completed an 8-0 victory with three minutes to go. Craig Evans was involved once again as he whipped a cross in to Lee Harris who had beaten the last man. It looked like he was going to pull the trigger first time but instead he controlled it perfectly, shifted it back around the retreating defender and passed the ball into the bottom corner.
Smithswood sent out another message to the teams in the title chase with today’s performance. They are getting stronger each game and over the past four games have hit 20 goals and conceded only 1. There are some good partnerships forming within the team and everyone is playing and working hard for each other all over the pitch.
Next up are back to back games against Badsey Rangers starting with a trip to Badsey next Saturday before the reverse fixture a week later at the Mackadown.
8 Goals 0
18 Shots 1
0 Yellows 0
0 Reds 0
4 Offsides 2
5 Corners 1
5 Free Kicks 4
Around the League:
Alcester Town 3-1 Barton United
Austrey Rangers P-P Badsey Rangers
Boldmere Sports & Social 1-2 Rostance Edwards
Burntwood Town 0-1 Redditch Borough
FC Stratford 0-3 Enville Athletic
Inkberrow 0-3 Perrywood