REPORT: Headingley AFC 5 v 1 Wetherby Athletic
Positives To Take Despite Result.
In a miserable week that has seen Wetherby ship a total of 14 goals, at least one bright light during tonight’s game against Headingley AFC was the performance! Granted it couldn’t be much worse than the one at the weekend when The Tangerines capitulated to the tune of 9-0 against Horbury Town, but as Manager Mark Forster commented at the end, “There was some really good football and for the first twenty minutes, we were by far the better team.”
The problem, and one that Forster readily admits has hampered the entire season, has been the inability to field a settled time constantly. This match alone saw several changes and a new debut handed to Andy Walker on the left hand side of defence.
The match started with Wetherby pressing and within minutes they had forced the ball deep into Headingley’s half, but despite trying they couldn’t find a way into the area and the blue shirts easily cleared.
Marauding down both wings, Josh Wilson was getting involved and it was his silky run that was only ended with a good tackle by the Headingley left back. No sooner had the original corner been cleared, then it fell to the feet of Wilson, who had flited out to the right, but his cross drifted out of play.
Despite all their pressure and closing down, Wetherby were struggling to find that final killer ball that would present them with an opening and a spate of corners ended with a good claim from the keeper.
Winning a tackle just inside his own half, Walker played a superb ball into Teydiairvine Machama’s path and the forward produced a mazy run that needed a last ditch tackle to take the ball away from him. From the corner, the ball fell at the feet of Shane Hand, who managed to twist and get his shot away, however under pressure by the keeper, the ball flew over the crossbar.
Wetherby nearly opened the scoring in the 16th minute when a Joe Whiteley free kick nearly crept in at the back post, but the keeper scampered across his line to collect the ball.
As Headingley started to get back into the game, it took a well-timed tackle by Dave McKay to deny a well worked one-two move by Headingley coming to fruition.
Another long ball by Headingley saw Mike Recchia act as a sweeper keeper as he raced out of his area to clear downfield.
The danger signs were becoming evident for Wetherby and it needed another block by Walker to deny Headingley from troubling Recchia. However it was another long ball into the feet of Austin that did the damage in the 25th minute and he made no mistake, scoring under Recchia.
Headingley broke again and this time Jonathan Brown brought down the attacking player, earning himself a yellow card.
Recchia was called into action again in the 29th minute when a free-kick routine nearly paid dividends for Headingley, but diving to his left, the keeper pushed the ball clear.
A quick move for Wetherby nearly produced a good opportunity, but presented with two good passing opportunities, Joe Garside opted for Wilson’s run down the left, but his ball was intercepted, much to the frustration of Machama, who had broken in the middle.
Headingley increased their lead in the 32nd minute and it was another long ball finding Austin that allowed him to beat his man on the right and fire across Recchia and into the goal.
For all their passing play and build up, it took until the 37th minute for Wetherby to force Headingley’s custodian to make a serious save when he had to tip Walker’s drive wide.
The second half started with Wetherby pushing forward and it was Machama who outsprinted the Headingley defence to try and divert the ball past the keeper, however both arrived at the same time and the ball spun kindly for the custodian to clear.
One thing that both teams deserve credit for was the pace of the game, which was being played at a phenomenal rate. With each side trying to produce flowing football, the match was certainly a good one to watch for the spectators.
Cutting in again off the left wing, Walker originally lost the ball, but his determination saw him win it back and play a nice move with Garside before firing another shot that needed a snap save from the keeper to push the ball wide.
Dancing into the area, Machama laid the ball off to Wilson who powered a half volley goalwards, only to see the keeper dive to his left and palm his effort out to safety.
As with the first half, a sucker punch caught Wetherby out in the 58th minute when Headingley were allowed to run through the Tangerines’ backline and shoot past Recchia for 3-0.
Two minutes later and the knockout blow was delivered when, and not for the first time, Wetherby failed to deal with a corner and Robert Mortimer had the simple task of heading home.
Headingley completed their scoring in the 63rd minute when an attack by Wetherby broke down and the ball was quickly worked down the pitch. Collecting the original shot, Recchia played the ball out to his defence, only for the player to hold onto the ball for too long and a tackle from the onrushing attacker dispossessed him and he coolly slotted home from just inside the area.
Picking themselves back up, Wetherby attacked down the left and a cross from Wilson was controlled by Garside, but his shot lacked power and was scooped up by Headingley’s keeper.
A combination of tackles and blocks by Brown and Graham came to Wetherby’s rescue as Headingley poured forward again.
The 70th minute saw the first Wetherby change when Robert Etherington replaced Whiteley, who had had a good game. Soon after, Machama came close again as he stretched to make contact with a McKay free kick, but failed by the narrowest of margins.
Wetherby pulled a goal back in the 79th minute when Graham rose highest at the corner and powered his header wide of the keeper and into the corner of the goal.
A loose ball by Headingley’s defence was picked up by Machama and a good cross into the area saw Wilson connect, but his shot was always rising and cleared the crossbar.
With five minutes left, Chris Plews replaced the injured Shane Hand who had hobbled off the pitch following an earlier challenge. However it was a strong challenge on the keeper by Brown that had Headingley up in arms, however Mr Collier-Booth brushed away any complaints.
With the game coming to an end, it was Machama, with an acrobatic effort that came closest to scoring for Wetherby, although a great pass by Etherington allowed Garside to fire in another rocket that needed firm hands by the keeper to deal with it in the dying seconds.
Report by Pete Arnett
Wetherby Athletic Man Of The Match: A much improved performance by the Tangerines and one that saw us in control for multiple periods of the match. Several players had great matches with Joe Whiteley, Joe Garside and Josh Wilson all shining. Andy Walker had a super debut, but I think that Teydiairvine Machama deserves this one as he was everywhere up front and with several chances, he was very unlucky not to convert one at least!
Wetherby Athletic AFC are sponsored by: