REPORT: Wetherby Athletic (York 4) 1 v 4 Stamford Bridge
A Bridge Too Far For Wetherby!
A clinical second half from Stamford Bridge was enough to end Wetherby’s interest in the York Minster Engineering Junior League Cup, however for the first half an hour, any spectator would have been hard pushed to guess which team was in the second tier and which was in the fourth!
The match started with the Tangerines attacking and forcing the visitors into a pass back to the keeper which the referee deemed as legal, despite Wetherby’s protests to the contrary.
A few minutes later, Sam Straker broke down the left, but his cross was cleared back out by the visitor’s defence.
With the ball stuck in midfield for long periods and both teams scrapping for possession, it was being left to the odd breakaway to provide any real action on the pitch.
It took a good save from Daniel Jackson, who had stepped up from our York C team, to prevent Stamford from scoring in the 16th minute. A deep cross to the back post was met by a powerful header, but diving full length to his right, Jackson pushed the ball round the post to keep Wetherby level.
Wetherby showed that they could break quickly as well when a long clearance from defence was won in a challenge by Straker, striding away from his marker, he whipped in a cross that was held up by the wind, allowing a covering centre back to intervene and clear.
Gaining a free kick ten yards outside the Wetherby area, Stamford crossed into the box, where it eventually took a stretching tackle from Matthew Connolly to poke the ball away.
Where Stamford were trying to attack through the middle with limited success, Wetherby were trying to move the ball down the wings, but each time a resolute defence stood firm and repelled the moves.
Wetherby were thankful to Jackson’s agility again when a fierce volley from just outside the area looked to be creeping in, but diving full length to his right again, the custodian pushed the ball clear.
The host’s resistance was finally broken in the 37th minute when a cross-shot from the right wing floated over Jackson’s head and into the far corner. It’s hard to judge if it was actually meant by the Stamford player, but whatever the initial aim, the result was 1-0 to the visitors.
Wetherby were winning free-kicks in some important areas, but time after time the ball was placed too close to the keeper and he had the simple task of taking it into his gloves and clearing.
With the half closing, it was Wetherby on top and an attempted through ball to Anthony Walsh was just diverted away from his feet, whilst a long shot from Daniel Robinson went over the bar.
The second period saw the wind start to effect play and both teams saw high passes blown away from their intended targets and out of play.
Tom Kirk was having a great battle in the heart of midfield and winning the ball ten yards from the visitor’s area, he spun his man and let fly with a shot that crashed into the side netting.
Stamford retaliated well and some precise passing allowed their forward to slip past a challenge and surge into the area. Under pressure from Robinson, the attacker pulled his shot wide of the far post.
The visitors doubled their lead from the penalty spot in the 55th minute, but it was harsh again on Jackson who had produced another stunning save moments earlier. However a coming together in the area was given in favour of Stamford and the taker made no mistake as he drilled the ball low to the left.
Wetherby were forced into a change when the injured Danny Gibson was replaced by Brad Spencer. Straight away, the youngster was in the thick of the action as he tried to bring a high swirling ball down, but was defeated by the bounce.
The match was settled in the 64th minute when a superb counter at speed saw a one-two release a Stamford player and his pinpoint cross was headed past Jackson at the far post by an unmarked blue shirt.
Two minutes later and a carbon copy move ended with a lovely dinked shot arcing over Jackson and into the far corner of the net to put a gloss on the scoreline.
Stamford now had their tails well and truly up and another bout of prompt passing down the left wing saw Wetherby clear the cross as far as the edge of the area, but fortunate the shot was hit too high and sailed over the crossbar.
It took Wetherby a while to regain focus following the quick goals, but when they did they found the back of the net in the 78th minute! Winning a Stamford goal kick, the ball was played back into the centre of the area and Andrew Dowling finished well past the keeper.
Wetherby were taking the game to Stamford now and following a chance that glanced off the post and went wide, Walsh was left with his head in hands following a miss that may haunt him for a while (or for longer, as I suspect his team mates won’t let him live it down) when, with only a simple touch needed to turn the ball in, he somehow managed to turn it over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net. To be fair to Walsh however, he did have to twist around in mid-air to try and connect with it!
With the referee glancing at his watch, Wetherby threw on last attack together and battling well, Walsh won the ball and played in a high cross which just evaded the lunging Straker at the far post!
Well done to Stamford, who after this one and the 11-0 thrashing of Wheldrake should progress from our group! As far Wetherby, at least we can concentrate on winning the league and the Barkston Ash FA BML Sports Cup!
Report by Pete Arnett
Wetherby Athletic Man of The Match – It’s not often you can point to a 4-1 defeat and then say that the goalkeeper had a great match, but in this case it was true. Daniel Jackson pulled off some superb saves, which even drew shouts of praise from his opposite number and, despite the elements, his kicking was pretty much on point for the majority of the match.
“Not one of our finest if I’m honest with you. The first goal was a nasty one for Danny as he has done so well and didn’t really deserve to be beaten by an unintentional goal, but after that we let ourselves down a bit with two soft goals on the counter and the penalty which was a bit of nothing really.
It was nice to be able to get a different perspective from the side-lines and I’ve learnt a lot of positives about the team. It was also good to be able to give a few players that were returning from injury some game time. Thinking about it, this cup really wasn’t a priority for me, the next two matches are the big ones and hopefully we will perform better for them.”