Cradley held to a draw after going three goals ahead.
The Hammers showed sensational form to go three up in 25 minutes but it ended a draw as Bewdley battled back with three of their own.
This was a pulsating game and a draw was a fair result but both clubs ended up rueing missed chances which could have stolen all three points. On the other hand our keeper Richard Kennedy pulled off some great saves to save us from defeat. Mixed emotions indeed!
Bewdley have been in great form lately losing just once in their last seven league games so this was in truth a good result for the Hammers who extended their unbeaten run to five games. It was good to play a game at Ribbesford Meadows in the daylight (and it cleared up after a few showers) and it was good to end our run of four defeats away to Bewdley.
Cradley began the game in brilliant fashion forging forward and winning first balls, second balls, third balls, we were winning the lot and we were 3-0 up in 25 minutes but could have been 8-1 up such was our dominance.
We’ve often conceded an early goal at Bewdley but this time it was the Hammers who took the lead after just 2 minutes. Scott Stevenson’s corner was headed back across goal by Darren Whitley and Ross Love headed in his first goal of the season despite there being a defender on the line putting us 1-0 up.
Following a corner-kick on 2 minutes the Cradley skipper Ross Love (4) heads goal-wards despite being man-handled by Bewdley’s Lewis Pountney…
…and the ball beats the defender on the line giving us an early 1-0 lead.
Just four minutes later Bewdley’s Ben Maund should have equalised but Richard Kennedy denied him with an excellent save. The former Coventry City and Worcester City striker Maund, making his debut for Bewdley, had a nightmare game missing at least three sitters fortunately for us.
Cradley laid siege to the home goal missing five chances in quick succession from the 12th minute onwards. Geoff Hill hit the post and glanced a shot just wide, Dreniz Bala was put through but mis-hit his shot, Lewis Clarke was put through but shot straight at the keeper and Ross Love volleyed in a half-cleared ball which was going like a rocket but the veteran keeper Darren Steadman punched it skywards and caught it when it eventually came down again.
We feared we would regret these squandered opportunities but we felt better on 18 minutes when we increased our lead. Another super ball from the Hammers bisected the home defence and Dreniz Bala charged down Steadman’s attempted clearance. The ball fell kindly for Dreniz who was left with a simple tap-in scoring for the fourth game in a row and putting Cradley 2-0 up in the process.
Perhaps more than just a simple tap-in but on 18 minutes Geoff Hill (left) is already celebrating Dreniz Bala’s goal as the ball’s on its way into an empty net putting us 2-0 up against Bewdley Town.
Bewdley just couldn’t hold us at this stage and we Cradley fans were delighted as we continued to surge forward at every opportunity. What a change from our dismal form at the start of the season! On 25 minutes the Bewdley right-back was cautioned for a tackle on Lewis Clarke and the Hammers went 3-0 up when Geoff Hill’s subsequent free-kick deflected off the wall and into the net past a wrong-footed Darren Steadman.
On 25 minutes Geoff Hill (just in the picture on the left) sees his free-kick hit the Bewdley wall….
….and the ball deflects past the keeper giving the Hammers a 3-0 lead.
All the time we knew we would get a Bewdley fight-back and it now came with a vengeance! The 47 year old keeper Darren Steadman kept asking his men for ‘just one goal’ and it came on 29 minutes.
Bewdley have been massively improved since the signing of the big and boisterous striker Lewis Pountney who has now notched 17 goals in just 9 games. Cradley were caught on the break on 29 minutes and Pountney headed down a Seekings cross to reduce his team’s deficit to 3-1.
On 29 minutes big Lewis Pountney scores with a header for Bewdley
reducing the deficit to 3-1.
Two minutes later Geoff Hill was put through by Dreniz Bala but he dragged his shot wide with just Steadman to beat.
On 39 minutes the Bewdley fight back took another massive step forward when Pountney scored again brilliantly diverting a Maund cross high into our net at the near post reducing the deficit further to 3-2 which was still the score at half-time.
On 39 minutes Lewis Pountney (on right No.9) gets a foot to the ball and the Cradley lead is reduced to 3-2.
Bewdley kept up their forward momentum from the start of the second period. Ben Maund failed with a cross shot on 51 minutes but on 55 minutes they equalised when Rich Costello headed in a Seekings corner from beyond the far post making the score-line 3-3.
On 55 minutes the street-wise Pountney holds down Lewis Clarke and Ross Love while Rich Costello (far left) heads in Bewdley’s equaliser making the score 3-3. The ball is hidden behind Lewis Clarke.
Things looked a bit grim for the Hammers at this point but full marks to the lads they battled back and may just have edged the remainder of the game.
We certainly went very close on 66 minutes when Dreniz Bala forged clear and beat two defenders and the keeper but his shot went agonizingly wide of the far post. Luke Williams got to the ball but, with the left-back sprawled in front of him, he could only fire into the side-netting.
Full marks to Ross Love too for marking Lewis Pountney out of the game in the second half. Ross stuck to him like glue to make sure he did’nt get his hat-trick.
So, as we said, mixed emotions at the end but at times we were sensational and let’s hope we can carry on in similar vein in November with some really tough games ahead of us.