A convincing win for the Hammers.
Bottom club Gornal fought hard and it was close at half-time but Cradley had a comfortable win in the end.
An overcast Autumn day and quite cool but just right for a game of football. The grass on the pitch was long and damp after heavy overnight rain which lasted into the morning of this game.
Garden Walk was looking spick and span thanks to new seating gifted to the club by the Albion, Watford and Plymouth Argyle and to work carried out by Community Payback teams repaying their debt to society.
A decent crowd saw the game start but then it was stopped right away for some fox droppings to be removed and then the referee started the game again.
Gornal were bottom of the table without a point to their name but it’s always 11 v 11 and the Cradley lads had to give it their all against a spirited home side who were hoping to notch their first points against 16th placed Hammers.
The Peacocks were the first to attack and Richard Kennedy (back with us after ligament problems) got down to make a save. On 4 minutes our Dreniz Bala was free in front of the Gornal goal but shot straight at their keeper. A chance missed!
Gornal went close with a header but on 10 minutes Cradley took the lead. R’mar Murray made a run down our right wing before pulling the ball back to Scott Stevenson. Scott flighted the ball towards the far post and Geoff Hill rose to glance a header past the keeper to give us a 1-0 lead.
On 10 minutes Geoff Hill puts in a good leap to get his head to a ball from Scott Stevenson and……
….it’s in at the far post putting the Hammers 1-0 up.
On 13 minutes Lewis Clarke got clear of the home defence but his shot hit the keeper on its way to the net and their right-back cleared the ball off the line before Charlie Gregg could get there.
Our skipper Ross Love rose to glance a corner just past the Gornal far post and then on 16 minutes our pressure paid off when another Scott Stevenson corner seemed to have evaded everyone but Darren Whitley raced in to volley goal-wards and the ball went in low off the keeper increasing our lead to 2-0. Daz has played in 20 of our 21 games this season and this was his first goal so you can imagine how delighted he was with this goal.
On 10 minutes the ball from Scott Stevenson’s corner is just in front of Geoff Hill (9) and Darren Whitley (far left) is racing in to volley…
….it into the net off the keeper giving the Hammers a 2-0 lead.
Cradley had a lot of possession and territory for the rest of the first-half but the Peacocks defended doggedly and we didn’t convert it into goals.
It was a shock to the system when Gornal scored just their second home league goal of the season on 40 minutes. A long cross from the home right wing fell to Damien Wood at our far post and he withstood a challenge from R’mar Murray to knock the ball across the face of our goal. Our keeper Richard Kennedy parried the ball into the path of McCaullie O’Connor who on his debut (having been promoted from Gornal’s Under 21s side knocked it in to reduce their deficit to 2-1.
The Peacocks fight back on 40 minutes as Damien Wood (11) gets in a cross despite R’mar Murray diving in to challenge…
…and McCaullie O’Connor (in the centre) fires in. We think the ball is behind Ross Love who’s on the deck.
Thus we pessimistic Cradley fans were now anxious and thinking Gornal could continue their fight-back to deprive us of our win. These thoughts continued probably up until 62 minutes when the Hammers went further ahead. Geoff Hill found space and Liam Morris slipped a ball through which Geoff knocked past the advancing keeper Stuart Curwen. The ball took an age making its way through the long grass but it eventually crossed the goal-line giving us a 3-1 lead.
On 62 minutes Geoff Hill (9) knocks the ball past Stuart Curwen….
…and it gets over the line before it can be cleared putting the
Hammers 3-1 up.
On 66 minutes we were a little bit more confident of taking the three points when Dreniz Bala expertly headed a Scott Stevenson corner over the keeper and into the net. Stuart Curwen may have got a finger tip to the ball but it was not enough and the Hammers went 4-1 up.
On 66 minutes Dreniz Bala (10) heads Scott Stevenson’s corner over the home keeper giving Cradley a comfortable 4-1 lead.
Much to their credit the Gornal boys kept on battling away and it was 92 minutes before the Hammers completed their scoring when Danny Crudgington put Dreniz Bala clear and our Black Country Croatian smashed his shot past the home keeper to make the final score 5-1 to Cradley.
Dreniz Bala fires home in fine style on 92 minutes giving the Hammers
a 5-1 win over Gornal.
With two goals apiece from this game Dreniz Bala and Geoff Hill are now joint top Cradley scorers with six goals each and the 5-1 win gave us a +1 goal difference (the best in the bottom half of the table) and moved us up three places to fourteenth spot. It was a game against rock bottom opponents but it was still a job well done.