Walker – “We’ve made Monday more difficult than it should have been”

“We didn’t defend well enough” was Steve walker’s succinct summing up after seeing a Jake Reed inspired Lowestoft take the points at Britain’s most easterly town.

“The first 35 minutes were simply not acceptable, but we changed a few things round after they went 2-0 up and we were much improved from then on.

we got back level soon after half time and I couldn’t see us  losing, but with Kynan Isaac and Albi Skendi both struggling with back and knee problems respectively our options were limited, and more sub-standard defending let them in for the winner.

The play offs are still in our own hands but Monday’s game against Biggleswade Iis now a lot more difficult than it should have been.”

Town Youth 4 Alvechurch 1

Town Youth returned to MFYL Premier Division South action at the Arden Garages Stadium on Thursday evening for the first time since clinching the championship title three weeks ago with an ultimately comfortable win over Alvechurch in the replay of their match back in February which was voided after the Church fielded an ineligible player.

Several of the Town team were playing their second game in two days after featuring for FC Stratford in their Presidents Cup Final against GNP Sports at Racing Club Warwick’s ground the previous evening, but after going behind early on they soon took control and effectively had the points in safe keeping at half time.

It didn’t look that way when the Church took the lead in only the fifth minute as the Town defence allowed a left wing corner to creep in at the far post, but they were level again six minutes later with leading scorer Tommy Harrington drilling a low drive into the bottom corner on the net from the edge of the penalty area.

And they were ahead on the quarter hour mark when Bradley West cut in from the right to sweep the ball past the advancing Church keeper into the far corner.

With Town piling on the pressure Alvechurch conceded a penalty for hands in the 23rd minute and skipper Josh Aspinall-Smyth made it 3-1 as he blasted the spot kick past the keeper with the minimum of fuss.

The Church tried to respond but  keeper Ryan Woodward pulled off a couple of smart saves and instead Town had a number of chances to extend their lead at the other end.

A volley from Harrington flew inches wide followed by Harry Hartin blazing over from six yards out and then Elliott shooting straight at the keeper and Town could easily have been out of sight at the break.

It was much the same in the opening minutes of the second half with Rob Sone’s looping effort from wide on the right deceiving the keeper and ricocheting away off the back post, but with both sides making use of the rolling subs rule the game lost much of its shape as Town did all that was necessary to keep their lead intact.

But in the 80th minute Jack Ballinger almost added a fourth when he surged through down the inside left channel only for the keeper to make a brave block at point blank range.

Soon after Sone had to limp off with Elliott returning in his place and with four minutes to go it was Elliott who rounded off the  evening as he thumped the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards out.

Meantime all Town supporters will be able to applaud Darren Timms and his  Champion side as they are to be presented with the Trophy and medals during the half time interval of the first team match against Biggleswade on Easter Monday..

Baillie – “A fantastic evening”

thumbnail__55F0830

“It’s a fabulous result for everyone involved with the club” purred an ecstatic Thomas Baillie after seeing skipper Jimmy Fry lift the prestigious Southern League Challenge Cup at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening.

It was a fantastic evening, and it’s been great for me to come here and work with some tremendous people particularly Walks (Steve Walker) and Marshy (Nathan Marsh).

Some supporters might wonder why we tinkered with the starting line-up tonight, but we were conscious that we were in a run of four games in eight days and happily they changes seemed to work .

I don’t think that Cinderford ever looked like hurting us apart from a couple of set pieces and I don’t recall Ross Etheridge having a serious save to make.   Although it was still level at half time  I was always confident that we would go on and win, and once we got ahead I didn’t feel that they would be able  to come back.

I’m not sure what the stats are, but it’s difficult to recall any game where we’ve been ahead and then let a lead slip and that’s all down to our game management.

It was excellent to have the backing of a large crowd tonight.   This club has great potential, but if it is to progress we need attendances of around the 500 mark for every home game.

Hopefully then the extra fans who were here tonight will have liked what they saw and come back again as regulars.

Meantime we now have three vital League games left and we still need points to be certain of a play off spot.   I’m sure we can make it, and once in the play offs we will see what happens and where it takes us.

But first of all let’s enjoy this evening’s success.”

 

Town 1 Cinderford Town 0

thumbnail__55F0809

Kynan  Isaac’s close range finish in the 61st minute propelled Town to victory in the CSS Southern League challenge Cup Final over a battling Cinderford  side at the Arden Garages Stadium on Tuesday evening.

A full report is now available under the First Team Match Reports Section.

More Cup final memories – will history repeat itself ?

Thomas Baillie deserves plenty of plaudits for guiding Town to the final of the CSS Southern League Challenge Cup in his first season as Head of Football and looking back it’s remarkable how many similarities there are to Town’s most recent cup final appearance in Morton Titterton’s debut managerial campaign of 2010/11.

Thomas Baillie took over from Darren Byfield after a poor start in the League and a dismal loss to Alvechurch in the F A Cup which was pretty much the identical situation which faced Morton Titterton when he replaced Rod Brown in September 2010.

At the time Town were already struggling for League points in the MFA and Rod Brown departed after an embarrassing F A Cup exit at Tipton following which Morton Titterton arrived to turn it all around.

As this season under Baillie there was an immediate improvement in Town’s form and they reached the Final of the Polymac Services League Cup after getting the better of Westfields in an inevitably feisty semi final played over two legs.

And they were in mesmerising form in the final as they swept aside Boldmere St Michaels on a momentous evening at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium in front of a near 500 crowd to become three times winners of the trophy following their back to back successes in 2003 and 2004.

Hopefully Baillie’s Class of 2019 can do the same and history will carry on repeating itself against Cinderford Town on Tuesday, and meantime to remember what winning a trophy feels like the match report of that final is reproduced below.

SUPERB TOWN HIT CUP WINNING FORM ON A MAGIC NIGHT AT THE BESCOT 

Boldmere St Michaels     –       2      –      Overfield  78    Law  82                                                    Stratford Town                  –       4      –      Alsop (2) 11 & 22   Beckley  41   James  61 

Town really turned on the style at the Bescot Stadium on Tuesday evening as they outclassed  a strangely subdued Boldmere St Michaels side with a scintillating display to lift the Polymac Services League Cup and round off a hugely impressive first season in charge for rookie manager Morton Titterton.

Arguably the Mikes went into this game as favourites as they had  finished their Baker Joiner MFA campaign by winning their last eight games  –  a sequence which earned them the Moldwell Products Team of the Month Award for April and which enabled them to snatch third spot in the final table two places and two points better off than Town.

But they were never in this game with a realistic chance after Sam Alsop had fired Town ahead early on, and further strikes from Alsop and Man of the Match Mykel Beckley effectively put the result beyond doubt before the interval.

Town’s starting line-up showed two changes from their last League match against Rocester ten days ago.  Joss Holford replaced the injured Danny Haynes at right back, and with Danny Carter cup-tied Beckley moved inside to partner Martin Thompson up front and Rob Thompson-Brown  –  making probably his last Town appearance having been offered a professional contract at Kidderminster Harriers  –  returned to his normal wide left role.

Included in the Mikes side were three former Town players Harry Donaghey, Jamie Petty and Matt Hawker.

Both teams wore black arm bands and there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence before the kick-off in memory of Ricky Smith who had close connections with both Clubs and who had sadly passed away three weeks earlier aged only 53.

Oddly in view of what was to come it was the Mikes who made the brightest start with Hawker not far away with a useful effort from distance in only the second minute, but as soon as Town settled down there was only one team in it, and they took the lead in the 11th minute.

And appropriately it was Town’s longest-serving player Mark Faulds who began the move by driving into the penalty area from the right and when a defender came across to challenge the ball broke loose to Alsop who drilled it low past Mikes keeper Sean Butler from 20 yards out.

With Alsop  –  making his 50th appearance of a busy season and who has really blossomed under Morton Titterton’s management  –   and the experienced Stuart Herlihy now bossing the vital midfield possession Town piled on the pressure.  A Thompson-Brown shot was comfortably held by Butler who was then relieved to see a long range attempt from Holford fly narrowly wide, and it was fully in keeping with the play when Town doubled their lead as the half reached its midway point.

Again it was down to Alsop’s alertness as he seized on to a sloppy clearance just outside the penalty area to hit a first time shot which initially didn’t seem to have enough power behind it, but Butler was slow to react and the ball crept past him into the net just inside his left hand post.

The Mikes tried to respond, but skipper Liam Reynolds and the immaculate Andy Gregory were unruffled in the centre of Town’s backline and keeper Richard  Morris was having an easy time of it as most of the action took place at the other end.

Thompson wasn’t giving the Mikes defence a moment’s peace with his typically selfless running while Beckley’s pace was a constant threat as shown on the half hour mark when he latched on to a long ball from Tom James down the left to scoot past Lyndon Weller and square the ball across to Thompson who was inches away from reaching it at full stretch.

By now the Mikes were simply hanging on and probably hoping for half time, but five minutes before the break they went three behind, and bizarrely this time the goal stemmed from a Mikes free kick on the halfway line.  Headed clear by Gregory the ball was picked up in the centre circle by Beckley who promptly sprinted between the static Mikes defenders to race clear on goal and as Butler advanced to meet him he admirably kept his composure to slot it past him and surely take the game out of the Mikes reach.

And it could have been even worse for the beleagured Mikes in the closing minute of the half when they conceded a free kick on the edge of the penalty area and Thompson-Brown’s effort fizzed inches over with Butler beaten.

If the Mikes were to get back into the game they needed a positive start to the second half, but after Morris had safely held a couple of hopeful crosses it was Town who resumed control, and the tireless Faulds  –  who was giving his usual 110%  –  soon went close when he let fly from 25 yards with a dipping effort which Butler did well to tip over.

And if it was not already “game over” it certainly was with a minute under half an hour left when Town added their fourth after forcing a corner on the left.   Thompson-Brown played it short to James who advanced into the penalty area to shoot across Butler into the far corner although again there had to be a question mark about the speed of the keeper’s reactions.

It was now desperation time for the Mikes and they immediately sent on all three of the permitted substitutes, and although Tom Overfield injected a bit of much needed pace into their attack it was Town who remained well on top.

Chris Murphy came on for the tiring Holford who had done a sterling job as Haynes’ deputy and slotted into midfield with Faulds dropping into the backline and it was almost exhibition stuff as Town imperiously sprayed the ball about the wide open spaces of the Bescot with Thompson-Brown and Beckley running the Mikes defenders ragged.

With 20 minutes to go Beckley’s pace took him to the byline and his pass inside looked to have set up a hat-trick opportunity for Alsop, but although he hit it well enough it was blocked on the line by Liam Morrall.  Shortly after Nathan Edgington came on for Thompson and promptly made an opening for Thompson-Brown whose rasping effort was charged down and then a Beckley cross from the right caused mayhem in the Mikes six yard box before Murphy’s shot was somehow deflected behind.

But to their credit the Mikes kept going and Tom Law missed their best chance of the evening so far when he inexplicably headed a Hawker cross wide from close in.  And a minute later the Mikes pulled a goal back when Lyndon Weller threaded the ball through to Overfield who ran on to shoot past Morris with the minimum of fuss.Surely this was to be only a consolation goal, but four minutes later the Mikes scored again when Hawker’s speculative effort came back off the bar and Law hit the rebound past the stranded Morris.

Suddenly there was a degree of  apprehension among the large contingent of the Town faithful in the crowd of 493 and there were some anxious glances to the electronic scoreboard as the remaining minutes seemed to take an age to count down.

But on the pitch the players seemed much less concerned and they made sure that the Mikes  didn’t really create any more meaningful chances.

And deep into the three minutes added time Town could have had a penalty when Edgington was flattened by Donaghey only for the referee to give a free kick right on the edge, but at least this allowed Town to play it short and retain possession by the corner flag until the final whistle sounded and the celebrations could begin

This had been an exhilarating Town performance and definitely a night to remember for all their supporters who had braved the horrors of the M6 to make it to the Bescot.

But surely the person to whom most of the credit should go is Morton Titterton.   Speaking after Town had beaten Westfields in the Semi-Final he indicated how much it would mean for him to win this Competition in his first managerial season as his last game as a player had been when Leamington had won the 2007 Final.

Well his wish came true, but few would have bet on Town winning anything when he took over from Rod Brown after that shambolic F A Cup defeat at Tipton   He inherited a squad short on fitness, confidence and morale and with the invaluable assistance of Jason Cadden and Paul Eden has reshaped it into a closely knit group who play a style of football that is pleasing to the eye and mighty effective too.

There were lots of smiles on lots of Town faces as skipper Liam Reynolds and his team were presented with the  Cup and their medals but none was broader than Morton Titterton’s.

And justifiably so.

TOWN : Morris, Holford (Murphy 64), James, Alsop, Gregory, Reynolds, Herlihy, Faulds, Thompson (Edgington 72), Beckley, Thompson-Brown (Pearson 87)    Unused Subs   –   Fellows & Mellings (GK)

BOLDMERE : Butler, Lyndon Weller, Donaghey, Petty, Watkins, Juxon (Morrall 62), Tulloch (Overfield 62), Hawker, Law, Capaldi (Lewis 62), Gould.   Unused Subs  –   Leon Weller & Gibson (GK)

Attendance      –        493

Man of the Match    –   Mykel Beckley

The View From The Dug-Out   –  Morton Titterton is ecstatic at the result and performance

“I’m absolutely delighted.  We were exceptional tonight and it was a brilliant win.  It’s great to collect a trophy in my first season, and more importantly than that it gives us a tremendous platform for next term when hopefully we can continue with the progress we’ve made so far.” 

Baillie – “it was easier than I thought it would be”

thumbnail_5F3A8444

“A comfortable win” was Town boss Thomas Baillie’s assessment after seeing his side consolidate their play off spot with a 2-0 success over Royston.

“They were a side with nothing to play for and they looked it.  They had a very end of season feel about them and when I saw how quiet their manager  was in the dug out when he is usually fairly vocal I knew that  it was going to be a lot easier than I originally thought.

I’m chuffed that Lewis Wilson got on the scoresheet.  As I’ve said before he incredibly versatile  and also incredibly consistent.  Whereas some players are 9 out of 10 one week and then 4 out of 10 the next Lewis is always in the 7 or 8 out of 10 bracket and does a tremendous job for the team.

Mike Taylor took his goal well and it was also another confident performance from Ross Etheridge who followed up his penalty save against Lowestoft with another fabulous  one this afternoon.

The only downside are  the injuries to Chris Cox and Jamie McAteer.  Coxy has an ankle problem and is also complaining about pain in his hip, while Jamie’s  is probably a recurrence of his hamstring issue.

Some people might say that we have been guilty of rushing him back too soon, but the player has trained without any difficulty and the medical staff passed him as fit to play so it’s massively frustrating for all concerned.

I regard the central defensive partnership of Jamie and Jordan Williams as the best in the League and I hope he is able to be back before the end of the season.

Looking ahead to Tuesday’s cup final we will field our strongest available team as it’s a competition that we want to win having got this far, but we certainly won’t be taking any risks fitness wise with any player as  we still have three League games and hopefully the play offs to come after that.”