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The Hammers - Match centre

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Cradley Town
Tue 6 Dec 19:45 - Cup Full time

A last gasp Studley winner foils the Hammers in a tough encounter.

Cradley fought back from two down to equalise but a winner deep into injury time sends Studley through to the semi finals of the Midweek Floodlit Cup

A win at Chelmsley Town in the previous round earned us a place in the Quarter Finals against Studley FC.

The game should have been played at Studley but they were waiting for parts to arrive so they could repair their floodlights. They intend to have their lights replaced altogether in the close season. Thus they requested the game be switched to Cradley and they would still pay the match officials.

We did all we could to publicise the change of venue but on a very damp, murky and misty day only 27 people came to see the game. On the Midland Football League website it stated the game was to be played at ‘The Beeches’ but a click on ‘The Beeches’ gave one the Packwood Road, Tividale, OLDBURY B69 1UL address which is of course the home of Tividale FC. Could that have cost us a few more fans?

Studley have been having a poor season being third from bottom of Division One of the Midland Football League with only 3 wins from 19 games so we probably fancied our chances of progressing to the semi finals but we slipped up on the night.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have been too surprised though because Studley were always our bogey team when we used to play them in the Midland Football Alliance. We played them 18 times in the league and we lost 16 and drew 2. Over the years we beat Oldbury United, Chasetown, Causeway United, Halesowen Harriers, Oadby Town, Alvechurch, Barwell, Stratford Town, Stourbridge, Romulus, Boldmere St Michaels, Westfields, Loughborough Dynamo, Coalville Town, Market Drayton Town, and Coventry Sphinx etc etc but we could never beat Studley. We did beat them 4-1 in the FA Vase here in 2012 though!

Before the game we found out Studley had signed our old favourite Jovan Blake-Walker who had left us a few days earlier to join Dudley Town. One can sign for a WMRL team and a Midland Football League team at the same time of course.

We soon found Studley to be well ‘up’ for this game and they had us on the back foot for the first 25 minutes forcing corner after corner. For the rest of the half it was Cradley in the driving seat. On 27 minutes Anthony Cox went down in the box but our penalty appeals fell on deaf ears. A minute later Dreniz Bala put a cross cum shot just past Geoff Hill at the far post, and a minute after that their keeper did well to save a Geoff Hill downwards header. After that we attacked continually with Liam Morris and Lewis Clarke going close but we couldn’t pierce the hard-working Studley defence.
On 45 minutes Studley knocked the ball forward and when TJ Munthali challenged the isolated striker Dan Pitt for the ball on the far edge of the box Pitt went down and the linesman flagged for a foul and a penalty kick. Gareth Evans put the spot kick past Richard Kennedy and it was 1-0 to Studley.

Studley’s Gareth Evans (6) fires in his penalty kick on 45 minutes
giving his team a 1-0 lead.

Second half

Studley almost went further ahead on 57 minutes when Dan Pitt somehow deflected a shot over our bar from close range. On 60 minutes Pitt did much better when he scored an outrageous goal. The ball was cleared just into our half by the visitors and again, with no support, under pressure from a Cradley defender and 35 yards from goal he just got his foot under the ball as it bounced and it soared high into the dark night sky towards our goal and Richard Kennedy was helpless to stop it. It dropped into our net perfectly from a Studley point of view and they were 2-0 up.

Having conceded from a soft penalty and a once-in-a-lifetime effort the Hammers must have assumed it was not going to be their night. They mustered their energy to fight back though.

On 63 minutes Cradley pulled one back when Geoff Hill got behind the Studley defence and put in a great cross which Luke Williams side-footed over the line from close range reducing our deficit to 2-1.

On 63 minutes Luke Williams (6) stabs in a goal to begin the Cradley
fight-back at 2-1.

On 77 minutes, under pressure from substitute Jovan Blake-Walker, Joseph Drake-Cervantes and Richard Kennedy collided but Joseph got back to his feet to dispossess Jovan before he could shoot.

On 82 minutes Geoff Hill put in another good cross and our substitute Carl Whyte (just signed from Tipton Youth FC) headed in the equaliser on his debut making the score 2-2. The Studley centre-back got his head to the ball but could not prevent the goal.

On 82 minutes Carl Whyte (16) heads for the far corner…..

….and it’s in the net as Cradley equalise at 2-2.

Things were looking much better for the Hammers now but we had a set-back when Dreniz Bala limped off injured on 88 minutes.

Cradley continued to pile on the pressure but as the minutes of time-added-on passed it looked certain the game was going to be decided with penalties.

Studley had just one last throw of the dice left when they were awarded a free-kick on 94 minutes when Carl Whyte, battling for the ball, committed an infringement in the centre-circle. Studley’s Gareth Evans got his head to a Danny Ludlow free-kick just before Richard Kennedy could punch it and the ball bounced on in virtually a straight line to goal and our visitors had nicked it 3-2. The Studley players have had little success so far this season so they celebrated their win long and hard.

On 94 minutes Studley’s Gareth Evans gets his head to a free-kick….

…and the ball bounces toward the Cradley goal….

….and enters the net before Lewis Clarke (8) can clear it giving Studley a late 3-2 win and a good celebration.

The referee allowed another minute’s play in which R’mar Murray found space to shoot but his shot went over and the game ended.

The Hammers badly wanted to make progress in this cup but it was not to be. Studley were strong and committed opponents who rode their luck at times and we hope they go on to lift the cup.

Dudley Sports went out on penalties after a brave draw at Nuneaton Griff so sadly there are no WMRL clubs left in the competition. Coventry Copsewood, Nuneaton Griff, Cadbury Athletic and Studley of the Midland Football League will now contest the semi-finals.

Joseph Drake-Cervantes can start his Christmas break early because he now must serve a three game ban after his sending-off in the win against Pegasus Juniors.

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