Still unbeaten - but dropped points??
Black Country Rangers 1 v 1 Stone Old Alleynians
BCR leave it late to smash through Stone’s Wall
On a perfect day for football, Black Country Rangers met Stone Old Alleynians at The Grove in Halesowen. Following BCR’s 2-2 draw against Malvern Town two weeks ago, manager, Wayne Spicer, made only two changes to the starting XI with Jordan Hall and James Filkins replacing Alex Hammond and Russ Garner.
After showing the world their brilliant footballing ability to the world, with their goal featuring on SoccerAM and ESPN, Black Country started off strongly against Stone. With Kieron Clarke and Shaq Whittingham both pushing high up the pitch against their respective full-backs, they soon started pushing into the Stone box, creating a number of early chances that were narrowly cleared in a desperate manner. Stone had a problem almost straight away with them having to substitute their lone striker on 6 minutes, who had a suspected hamstring problem. The opening 20 minutes of the game saw BCR camped firmly in the Stone half, with wing-backs, Horton and Fuller both playing on the edge of the Stone box, taking players on and sliding crosses into the box. Clarke, Boyce and Whittingham all went close with their shots being dragged wide or well saved by the Stone goalkeeper who had a spectacular game.
Stone crafted their first chance on 29 minutes, with a long ball from their goalkeeper, headed forward from midfield, only for the Stone striker to drag his shot wide. This narrow scare forced BCR to up their tempo even more, launching a barrage of shots from distance as well as seeing a number of chances from corners headed narrowly over the bar by centre-backs Ben Birch and Matthew Vaughan. Captain, Vaughan, continued to demand more from his fellow players, pushing them to take a further step up and try to gain even more dominance.
As the half drew to a close, Stone put even more players behind the ball, upping that number from 9 players to all 11. BCR continued to attempt to batter down Stone’s wall, with Clarke, Whittingham, Boyce, Filkins and Lawley all seeing shots further saved or fly wide. At half time, the stats made for grim reading:
BCR 0 - 0 Stone
11 shots (4 on target) - 2 shots (0 on target)
6 corners - 0 corners
5 fouls - 3 fouls
BCR started the second half in the same way in which they finished the first, pushing high, being aggressive and crafting numerous half chances. Early into the half a formation change saw Dan Forrest replace Jordan Hall, the centre midfielder being brought on to add more of a creative spark into the BCR team that were struggling to find that final touch of class to finish off their flowing moves.
Jake Healy and Jason Chilton replaced James Filkins and Chris Horton as the clock ran down, Healy creating a number of chances with his trademark chop inside and driven ball across the 6-yard box, Boyce and Clarke both saw close chances saved by the in-form Stone goalkeeper. Healy then produced a moment of magic, chopping inside a Stone centre-back, his shot looked destined for the top corner before the Stone keeper pulled off a world class save, tipping the ball onto the bar and out for a BCR corner.
Stone’s first chance of the second half came in the 79th minute, a long throw was sent to the edge of the BCR box, centre-back, Vaughan, won the first header to clear away, but couldn’t latch onto the loose ball which was won by a Stone player and driven low through the bodies into the BCR box. In typical football poetry, Stone took the lead, seeing their chance nestle into the bottom left of the BCR goal, and even the Stone players looked shocked to have scored. At the time of scoring BCR had had 18 shots on the Stone goal, which well and truly had a curse on it for the BCR strikers.
Spicer along with assistant Graham Ward, demanded BCR up the tempo and push forward. Going for broke Stone continued to frustrate BCR, with 9 players behind the ball at all times, forcing BCR to struggle to break down the Stone formation. A shot from the edge of the Stone area was bounced back off the post only to see Clarke’s rebound pounced upon by the Stone goalkeeper, who went down injured for 3 minutes, to see him jump back up and pull off yet another save from Whittingham.
Time was running out for BCR and moments after BCR saw a penalty appeal for a potential foul on Clarke, a 92nd minute cross from Whittingham met wing-back Fuller’s boot, and bobbled under the Stone keeper and into the back of the net for BCR to rescue a late equaliser against a side that thought they had won only their 6th game of the season. Stone looked dejected, with players falling to the floor in angst and disappointment. Following a highly professional defensive display that Stone’s neighbours by Stoke City would have been proud of was cut just short by BCR as Fuller’s “Spicer-time” equaliser rescued a fully deserved point for BCR.
BCR 1 - 1 Stone
22 shots (8 on target) - 4 shots (2 on target)
13 corners - 0 corners
10 fouls - 9 fouls
BCR remain unbeaten in the league under Wayne Spicer and are away to Herefordshire based Wellington who are currently 10th in the league, BCR’s last game against Wellington ended in a 4-0 win.