The Hammers hit top form to stun high-flying Rangers.
Cradley's run of good form hit new heights with this convincing win against top-class opponents.
A cold, dry day and what a way to mark the half-way point of the season with this magnificent win over high-flying Ellesmere Rangers. The Hammers were unstoppable on the day being rock-solid in defence and fluid in attack, the only disappointment was conceding a goal with almost the last kick of the game. Oh and getting three more bookings was another disappointment. When one puts one’s heart and soul into a game you’ve got to make contact with an opponent occasionally and some of these cards are really unnecessary.
Unlike the previous Wednesday at Malvern we did have some substitutes for this game but skipper Ross Love wisely sat it out to give the knee he hurt at Gornal more time to recover.
The Hammers attacked from the very first whistle and we had already had three attempts on goal before finally going ahead on 16 minutes. From a free-kick Scott Stevenson floated in a ball which Dreniz Bala, moving in, met on the full side-footing his shot past the helpless keeper and giving Cradley a 1-0 lead.
On 16 minutes Dreniz Bala (10) waits for Scott Stevenson’s ball…
…and deftly guides it past the keeper…
…and into the net putting the Hammers 1-0 up. The Ellesmere
centre-back (left) seems to be blaming his unfortunate keeper.
Three minutes after our goal Rangers put us under pressure but Joseph Drake-Cervantes used his height to head the ball away despite being challenged.
Joseph Drake-Cervantes heads the ball off our line on 19 minutes.
Cradley proceeded to put in some excellent work and fully deserved to go further ahead which they did on 43 minutes. A ball out of defence sent Lewis Clarke away almost from the half-way line. Defenders were struggling to catch him up and it was clear Lewis was going to get in a shot but we had our doubts because one wouldn’t describe Lewis as a natural goal scorer. Two yards out is his preferred range. He dispelled those doubts completely though with a super lofted shot over the keeper which dropped in high at the far post giving the Hammers a 2-0 lead. Possibly his best ever goal in Cradley colours?
Lewis Clarke (8) superbly chips one over the Ellesmere keeper on 43 minutes
putting us 2-0 up.
There had been some crunching tackles in the first half which had left both Geoff Hill and Scott Stevenson limping but they soldiered on.
We ever pessimistic Cradley fans feared we could still drop out of the game as we did against Haughmond here but nine early second-half minutes put the three points almost certainly in our hands.
On 48 minutes the tireless veteran Scott Stevenson put in a cross and Geoff Hill hooked in a shot straight at the keeper but luckily for us it went through Damien Stevens’ legs and on into the net putting us 3-0 up.
On 48 minutes Geoff Hill (9) hooks a shot goal-wards….
…..and the ball goes through the Ellesmere keeper’s legs……
….and into the net giving the Hammers a 3-0 lead.
On 54 minutes another great ball out of defence (from Darren Whitley?) sent Dreniz Bala clear in the Ellesmere half and the away defenders were left for dead. Dreniz crossed to Geoff Hill who smashed a tremendous drive high into the net from an oblique angle. The sheer speed of the ball gave the keeper no chance and now we were 4-0 up. We believe an Ellesmere player got himself booked when he asked if Dreniz had been offside!
On 54 minutes Geoff Hill (right) shoots for goal….
….and the ball smashes into the net putting Cradley 4-0 up. Lewis Clarke (8) is there in case there’s a rebound.
We were ecstatic and couldn’t quite believe we were humbling a team who were fourth in the table who had won five in a row, the last three without conceding a goal and there was more to come from the happy Hammers.
Ellesmere were trying to raise their game to appease their very unhappy manager but it was Cradley who struck again on 67 minutes. This time it was Anthony Cox supplying the ammunition when Dreniz Bala headed in his cross putting us even further ahead at 5-0. Anthony has done really well since joining us from Gornal Athletic three games ago.
On 67 minutes a cross from Anthony Cox is headed downwards by
…..the ball bounces on its way to goal……
….and hits the back of the net putting Cradley 5-0 up. The Ellesmere keeper Damien Stevens knows it’s just one of those days!
So that’s another two goals each for our terrible twins Geoff Hill and Dreniz Bala. We’ve played 23 games now this season and they both had such a slow start to the campaign neither of them scored in the first 15 games! Now they are really in the groove and have scored 16 goals between them in 8 games.
The Cradley substitutes Luke Williams and Charlie Gregg were on now and they found themselves in the box several times eager to join in the goal feast but the final pass went astray or the keeper saved their efforts. R’mar Murray was also causing the away keeper to put in some extra work but he hasn’t found the net for a while now so it’s a case of staying positive and patient and it will come again like those great goals he scored at Stone and Willenhall.
On 79 minutes a shot from R’mar Murray hit the cross-bar and went vertically way up into the air and when it came down Lewis Clarke was there to head it in virtually unchallenged. It was so low-key we wondered if play had been stopped or something but no the goal stood and we were unbelievably 6-0 up.
All the goal-scoring had tired out our photographer and she didn’t capture Lewis nodding in his second goal of the game and his fifth of the season. We did photo R’mar’s initial shot though.
On 79 minutes this is R’mar Murray’s shot bouncing high in the air
off the cross-bar. When it came down Lewis Clarke headed it in
despite there being six Rangers defenders in the vicinity putting
the Hammers 6-0 up.
We really wanted to keep a clean sheet to make it an absolutely perfect day but on 91 minutes with almost the last kick of the game Ellesmere pulled it back to 6-1. A free-kick into our box was headed on and the away substitute Adam Jones was given a clear shot on goal. Our keeper Richard Kennedy saved the first shot but he couldn’t grasp the ball and Jones chipped the ball over the prostrate Richard to snaffle a consolation goal. Richard was far from happy to say the least!
On 91 minutes the Ellesmere sub Adam Jones shoots and Richard
Kennedy blocks his shot…
…but the ball falls behind Richard…
…and Adam Jones regains his feet to knock the ball into the back of
the net. Our defenders Tajani Munthali and Joseph Drake-Cervantes
appeal to the linesman for off-side but get no joy.
So a little sadness in conceding a goal but we must be very happy overall with this thumping win over one of the best teams in our league.
It was a poor crowd of around 32 watching this game and around a dozen of those were Ellesmere fans. Strangely those away fans left before the finish so there were very few of us watching at the final whistle. You don’t get that happening very often at our level of football. Hopefully they were in the bar trying to get warm.
So we thank our lads again for giving us some great entertainment and another win. Of our last nine games we’ve won six, drawn two and lost just the one which has slowly moved us up to thirteenth which is our highest place of the season. Let’s hope we can continue this good form and continue to climb the table.
PS People have been asking: our previous bigger win was 7-1 against Wellington Amateurs here last season.