Stone Old Alleynians 3-0 Worcester Raiders
Stone Old Alleynians began the New Year as they finished the last, with a comfortable three-goal victory over Worcester Raiders, but the margin could have been much bigger as the home side squandered a number of great opportunities.
The poor finishing left Matt Smith with some questions to answer ahead of next Saturday’s crunch Staffs Vase Quarter-Final at home to Hanley Town, but the three points lift his side up to third.
“I’m satisfied with the result, it’s always nice to keep a clean sheet as we’ve been defending well of late, but I’m disappointed with the number of chances that we missed.
“Today was a real chance for us to go and boost the goal difference considerably. However on the plus side it’s a good win that we can take confidence from heading into next week.” He said.
The game started slowly on a pitch that bore the scars of the recent wintery weather, but eventually the home side settled and Ben Lewis began to find space in behind the visitors defence.
Worcester were finding it hard to deal with the pace of Lewis, as the striker twice broke through forcing good saves from the visitors keeper.
Danny Heard, Matt Thomas and Paul Griffiths all went close to breaking the deadlock. But the hosts finally got their reward when a cross from left-back Sam Wilson was powerfully headed home by Cameron Sinclair.
The goal wasn’t the catalyst that the Old Boys needed however, as they spurned yet more chances before the break, with Sinclair, Heard and Lewis again coming close.
Smith sent his troops out after the break with a message to be more clinical, and it very nearly worked.
Straight from the kick off, Lewis found space on the left-hand side and his cross was met by Sinclair who narrowly headed over.
And that partnership linked up again minutes later with another excellent Lewis cross being met by Sinclair, however this time the midfielder was only able to find gloves of the Worcester keeper.
But Lewis did finally get the assist that his hard work had deserved, after again breaking through the visitors defence, he squared the ball perfectly to Danny Heard, who calmly rolled the ball into the back of the net
Full-back Sam Wilson then took the opportunity to score a rare goal, following a clever run and quick interplay with Billy Thorley, his shot found the bottom corner via a slight deflection. And Wilson should have then added another when he went clean through, but his shot was well saved by the onrushing keeper.
Sam Hodgkinson came on to replace the impressive Lewis, and immediately should have had an assist from his cross, but Sinclair fired narrowly over, before another substitute, Carl Dibden, saw his effort saved by the impressive visiting keeper.
The visitors came into the game having scored 49 goals already this season, but a robust performance from the Old Boys back line ensured that Worcester drew a blank for the first time this season.
Stone OA: Burslem, Bigham, Whalley, J Thorley, Wilson, Sinclair, C Heard, Griffiths (c) (B Thorley), Thomas, D Heard (Dibden), Lewis (Hodgkinson)