REPORT: Wetherby Athletic 4-2 Leeds Modernians
Walsh’s Hat-Trick Fires Athletic Back Into Top Six.
Anthony Walsh’s hat-trick helped Wetherby return to winning ways, but it was a game that Manager Martin Powell felt his team should have controlled a lot better than they did!
The signs were promising from the start for The Tangerines as Josh Wilson set about tormenting the Modernians right back with his pace. This time, the dual was won by the visitor, but it would prove to be a rare victory!
Walsh was celebrating his and Wetherby’s opening goal in the third minute when quick thinking saw him produce a diving header to force Wilson’s pass over the line. Wilson, in turn, must be given credit for out jumping his substantially taller marker to flick his header, from Brian Blewitt’s teasing free-kick, into the striker’s path.
Latching onto Blewitt’s pass, Wilson skinned the full back again, but just as he set himself to cross, he was forced backwards as a combination of two defenders shut down his space.
With eleven minutes on the clock, the visitors fashioned their first attempt on goal when a free-kick was met at the back post, however, the midfielder’s off-balance connection could only force the ball over Mike Recchia’s crossbar.
There was plenty of huffing and puffing from Wetherby and most of it was coming down the left-hand side from either Wilson or Dom Creamer. However, despite the duo putting in some excellent crosses, they found Leeds’s goalkeeper a difficult obstacle to beat and the custodian was showing safe hands, much to the dismay of both Walsh and McEntee who were denied decent chances.
Modernians won a free-kick in an advantageous position just outside the area in the 19th minute, following a debatable handball against Andy Graham. However, despite beating the wall, the ball also beat the crossbar as well.
A superb save from the visiting goalkeeper denied Walsh his second goal when he acrobatically turned away a close-range strike from Athletic’s number nine following a low cross by Creamer.
Wetherby finally managed to make their dominance pay in the 23rd minute when Graham, who had been left unmarked in the area, looped his header over the keeper and into the net, despite the attention of two defenders on the line.
The home side punished some slack marking by the Modernians defence in the 28th minute and in all truth, it should have been game over when McEntee found Creamer and his low cross was converted by Walsh from close range.
Athletic continued to push and Walsh had a good chance to seal a first half hat-trick in the 38th minute, but a last ditch sliding block took the sting out of his shot and the keeper was able to scoop the ball up.
The final five minutes saw Wetherby concede possession to the visitors and it culminated with Recchia having to show good positional awareness to pluck a wind assisted shot out of the air from just underneath his crossbar.
The second half started with Graham reluctantly withdrawing from the game and being replaced by Phil Milsom due to an injury sustained in the warm up.
As often happens, Athletic conspired to make life harder than it should have been when a cross from the right wing wasn’t dealt with and a well-placed header beat Recchia to make the score 3-1 after 47 minutes.
Mr Lynch produced the first yellow card of the match in the 50th minute when Creamer was sent spinning through the air after a crude challenge. From the resultant free-kick, Paul Hustwit picked out Milsom, but his dipping header was claimed by the keeper with Walsh lurking.
The chances were beginning to flow again for Wetherby and following a race that saw Creamer just lose out against the keeper, Walsh was left shaking his head in disbelief when his header, after a mis-judgement of the ball’s trajectory by the keeper, smashed into the crossbar and ended up behind the goal. Soon after another free-kick evaded a host of orange shirts lined up in the area despite both Milsom’s and Wilson’s attempts otherwise!
It was beginning to look like Walsh wasn’t destined to claim his first hat-trick of the season when a pass from the ever industrious Hustwit released John Terhani down the right and his pull back to Walsh saw his shot stopped just yards from the goal-line by a well-timed sliding block by a defender.
McEntee was the next player to make way in the 61st minute when he was replaced by Joe Whiteley as Wetherby looked to capitalise on a good spell of dominance, however being our own worst enemy, we allowed defensive frailties to resurface and Leeds Modernians made it 3-2 when an unmarked player was given time and space to head into the top corner after 63 minutes.
Whiteley showed his pace down the left flank as he out sprinted the Mods back line. Putting in a low cross, the ball was met by a defender’s foot and despite cries of “it’s in”, it landed on the roof of the net, much to the visible relief from the player in question!
It was all smiles for Wetherby and Walsh in the 70th minute when he finally completed his hat-trick after being played in by Blewitt. Taking the ball round a defender, his left footed shot spun over the keeper and bounced into the net.
Despite being 4-2 down and conceding most of possession, the visitors weren’t giving up and it took both Tom Frost and Greg Harrison to throw themselves in front of a shot to prevent Leeds from pulling a third goal back.
The final change of the match saw Walsh leave the pitch to a good ovation from the Wetherby crowd and replaced by Jamie Gillies. Straight away, he was in the action when a trademark diving header, following Creamer’s cross, was stopped by the keeper’s leg just a foot away from crossing the line and then as he broke free minutes later, a blast from Mr Lynch’s whistle pulled him back for an extremely close offside decision.
A victory for Wetherby and just what we needed after the Featherstone game, but it was another one where we made life difficult for ourselves. Credit must go to Leeds Modernians who never gave up and pushed us hard, but we really need to put games to bed, especially when leading 3-0!
Report by Pete Arnett.
The Red Lion Wetherby Man of the Match - For a perfect hat-trick, it must go to Anthony Walsh. He never gave up and claimed his reward and a piece of quick thinking saw him bag his first with a superb diving header. Josh Wilson and Dom Creamer also had good games and Wilson especially was unlucky not to claim a goal for all his efforts.
Post-Match Reaction from the Gaffer: “Three nil at half time and the game is technically over and it’s all about our game management and seeing it out, but credit to Leeds who got an early goal, we then switched off and panicked a bit and made it difficult for ourselves again!
Overall however, it was a good performance. We had chances and we should have scored a few more to make it comfortable, but in the end, we come away with the three points and that’s the main thing.
On Anthony Walsh scoring his hat-trick: “I think he needed that hat-trick. He always makes chances and scores goals and he has come close to getting it before this season, so it’s good to see him finally do it and I’m very pleased for him. He is a good player and deserved it.”
On Josh Wilson’s performance: “He definitely deserved a goal today, we just say to Josh ‘get the ball and do what you do!’ His pace is that quick that you just have to let him go for it. He gave their right back a really good game today and I’m sure he will be glad he isn’t facing Josh every week!”
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