Another win for the Hammers.
Cradley held on for a narrow 2-1 win against a determined Pegasus Juniors team.
Bright and sunny at Beeches View Avenue but very cold when the sun went down. It’s always good to win but Pegasus were so up for it and in our faces it was particularly nice to win this one.
The lads had to be top class again to get this result because, despite being on a losing run, Juniors battered us from the start. Richard Kennedy and his defenders were supreme again and our twin strike force of Bala and Hill notched a vital goal each again.
Our long-time supporter Andy Roxburgh from Moseley, Birmingham could see straight from the off that Pegasus had been eating raw meat prior to this game and predicted someone would be sent off and his prediction unfortunately came true. We will ask him for a tip for the Grand National come April.
There was a typical beefy right-back versus speedy winger scenario between Jack Lewis and our own R’mar Murray (in his new cut-off shorts) and we feared for R’mar’s health and safety at times. Lewis was lectured by the referee a couple of times and finally got a caution just after half-time.
We Hammers fans could see this game was going to be a tough one and it was a big relief when we took the lead on 25 minutes through a brilliant piece of opportunism by our joint top-scorer Geoff Hill.
Darren Whitley lofted a great clearance/ball forward into the opponents half of the pitch and Pegasus were undone when both their keeper and their centre-back went for the ball. With these two not sure which of them should deal with it Geoff somehow insinuated himself between the two and popped a header over the advancing keeper. The ball rolled on unerringly into the net giving Cradley a 1-0 lead. Such a cheeky goal!
On 25 minutes Geoff Hill (9) brilliantly pops a header over the
advancing Pegasus keeper Max Harris….
…and Harris and his centre-back Dan Price can only watch the ball
bounce into the net putting Cradley 1-0 up.
We only had to wait a couple of minutes before we doubled our lead. We won a corner and Pegasus couldn’t clear it. Tajani Munthali had a touch, R’mar Murray had a touch and eventually Lewis Clarke headed goal-wards.
The ever alert Dreniz Bala scooped the dropping ball into the net despite a challenge from Dan Price and we were 2-0 up on 27 minutes. We actually lost sight of the ball for a second or two and weren’t too sure where the ball had gone but when we could see it was nestled in the net the cheers rang out again
On 27 minutes Lewis Clarke (right) heads the ball goal-wards ……
……and Dreniz Bala (10) patiently waits for it to drop……..
…before getting his foot to it and…
…guiding it past the Pegasus keeper putting Cradley 2-0 up.
Unfortunately, unlike the previous week, we didn’t plunder any further goals but we went mighty close to going three goals up on 35 minutes. Darren Whitley headed a ball out of defence and Dreniz Bala was put clear on goal with the Juniors’ defence in his wake. Dreniz slotted the ball past the keeper and was confident it was on target as he wheeled away ready to celebrate but it actually hit the foot of the post before being cleared. After the game Dreniz said it was a bad miss but it was because the ball was soft!
On 35 minutes Dreniz Bala (10) slots the ball past the Pegasus keeper
but it hit the post! Note the new shorter shorts on R’mar Murray (11) !
This stoked up the Pegasus confrontational fires even further (if that was possible) because they thought Dreniz should have been flagged off-side. Some of the Pegasus bench were in the Cradley dug-out area having a pushing match with our physio and their captain Anthony Robbins got a caution (which was long overdue in any case) for abusing the linesman! Peggy were a really angry bunch on this day.
There’s no doubt about it; Pegasus gave as good as they got from start to finish in this game and could well claim they deserved something from it but it’s goals that count and we bagged a couple while our magnificent defence was cracked just the once. Our keeper Richard Kennedy stretched his tall frame time after time to just nick the ball off the rampaging Juniors and TJ Munthali has been a revelation standing in for the injured Ross Love in the centre of our defence. Our manager Andy Wyton reckons TJ is the fastest man in the league.
Just before half-time The Hammers were within a whisker again of going further ahead. Luke Williams had a shot blocked and the ball fell to Geoff Hill whose chip went across goal and millimetres wide of the far post.
The second half began with Cradley on the attack but Luke Williams’ shot cleared the bar and on 48 minutes Pegasus gave their supporters fresh hope. Their left winger Liam Jones found space and put a good cross in. Lewis Clarke, facing his own goal, tried to clear it but could only help the ball into his own net so it was an own goal and our lead was reduced to 2-1.
On 48 minutes Lewis Clarke (8) races in to deal with Liam Jones’
cross but can only divert the ball into his own net reducing our lead
over Pegasus to 2-1.
Some of us home fans, pessimists as always, were thinking we could be heading for our first draw against Pegasus Juniors after ten previous games without one but the lads had other ideas.
Tempers were still frayed and on 50 minutes the Pegasus right-back Jack Lewis was finally cautioned for clipping R’mar Murray again. Three minutes later our Dreniz Bala was sadly yellow carded for dissent and even worse was to come on 61 minutes with a flare-up between our Joseph Drake-Cervantes and the visiting player-manager Anthony Robbins.
We just saw them pushing each other but the referee and the assessor insisted Joseph had caught Robbins in the face with his hand at the outset. Thus they were both sent off, Joseph with a straight red and a three game ban and Robbins with a second yellow and a one game ban. Thus Andy Roxburgh’s prediction was fulfilled and doubly so.
On 67 minutes Geoff Hill had a shot deflected just past the far post but for probably the last fifteen minutes of the game we were really under the cosh as Pegasus attacked us relentlessly. On 90 minutes yet another Pegasus corner was half cleared to Jay Richmond and his shot seemed destined for the top corner but it landed on top of the netting to our great relief and to the frustration of the visiting fans.
Our keeper Richard Kennedy (above) makes another save. Richard was voted our Man of the Match by Pegasus Juniors.
It was a relief for we Cradley fans therefore when the final whistle went on 93 minutes. Yet another three points edged us up to twelfth place in the table and we are within striking distance of Smethwick and Willenhall Town who are just above us but have played more games than us.
We have to play Pegasus Juniors again in December in Hereford just before the Christmas and New Year break so we look forward to that with some trepidation. Another win over them would be a lovely Christmas present though!