Sikh Hunters proved the perfect visitors for this needed second and final friendly ahead of the league restart this Saturday 19th Dec. Sitting sixth in the WMRL Div 1 but just three points off top spot and with a game in hand they had been going well before lockdown 2 curtailed proceedings. Straight from the off the game was played at a high tempo with both sets of players clearly wanting to put themselves in the window for selection for pending league matters.
The game was again structured as 3 x 30 mins making for less interruptions from constant changes as can be the case with friendlies. Managers Steve and Dom mixed things up a bit from the impressive performance over Shawbury last Saturday starting trialist Peter Tautscher up top, u18's and 1st Team no.2 GK Tom Horsley between the sticks and youth team players Ethan Harris and Taylor Draper both came into the squad for more exposure. Andy Dodd made a rare start to test a recurring injury that has plagued his season so far. The first 30 mins was very impressive from the hosts who despite the personnel changes appeared to pick up where they'd left off on Saturday and it was Peter Tautscher who rose above everyone else to convert the impressive Josh Wilson's cross to give Town the lead on the 10 minute mark. Nathan Scott who is having a fine season was returning from the ankle injury that had kept him out of the previous friendly and he was at the heart of the second goal. A well worked short corner saw him dribbling on the angle just outside the box and his marker decided to scythe him down rather than allow the cross to be made. 'Fortunately' it was the other ankle and Nathan composed himself to answer in the best possible way firing the resultant free kick like a missile into the top corner for 2-0. The visitors were given a route back into the contest in the 43rd minute when a pass out from the back from Wayne Bailey was intercepted and fully capitalised on for 2-1. Henry Smith restored the comfort of a two goal lead when he deftly flicked on a lovely in swinging delivery again from Josh Wilson who's consistent quality of delivery has been a real thorn in the oppositions side since joining The Reds. Again though Sikh Hunters weren't for folding and just five minutes later scored a lovely header of their own from a well worked corner to reduce the deficit to a single goal once more and make for an interesting final 15 minutes. Chances came and went at both ends and the impressive Tom Horsley on several occasions was on hand when needed to keep the Hunters at bay with saves that warmed not only his own hands but that of those in attendance with deserved applause. With minutes to go Hunters were vehemently going at the Town goal but were undone by a fine piece of counter attacking football. Defending a corner, the ball dropped to the edge of the box and the shot was blocked by the industrious Ben Wood. The deflection fell to the feet of Josh Wilson who drove from one penalty area to the edge of the other with his marker chomping at his heels. An exchange of passes with Taylor Marshall resulted with the ball finding Kyle Wainwright 19 yards out just off centre to the left. He then bent a delightful finish up and over the keeper that nestled into the top right corner of the net. A lovely goal indeed. The feelings of joint gaffers Dom and Steve were that "these last two friendlies had proved really useful, not just for game time which players need but game time with a more competitive element. Both Shawbury and Sikh Hunters were ideal and provided differing challenges. Despite being friendlies it's nice to get a couple of back to back wins which can only build confidence. We've plenty to keep improving on but are also a long way from where we were pre season when we started with basically a blank canvass. There's a positive feel about the place and the players are going into games feeling competitive which is huge in football.
Some great highlights of this exciting game can be found here; https://youtu.be/o1iPbJA2lGM