Bloxwich United 2 Chasetown FC 1

Just a fortnight prior to this fixture Chasetown had comprehensively defeated Blue Square North side Stafford Rangers – but you wouldn’t have known it following this fixture.

The Scholars’ exit from the Walsall Senior Cup at the quarter-final stage saw them dominated by Bloxwich United for almost all of the 90 minutes, and the side were left to rue Gary Birch’s missed opportunity from the penalty spot as only a free kick from set-piece specialist Mark Branch offered respite.

The hosts took the lead after only five minutes when Ahmed Obeng beat the Scholars defence and flicked the ball to Alan Wilkes out on the left whose shot evaded Ryan Price in the Scholars goal and nestled in the far corner.

After this early setback the Branch brothers led the attempt at a revival by the Scholars. John’s header on ten minutes cleared off the line by Adam Simkiss before a free kick from Wilkes was tipped round the post by Price for a corner which came to nothing for the home side.

Bloxwich manager Mike Moseley had clearly studied Chasetown’s approach as his men had all angles and possible dangers covered throughout the first half, but on 36 minutes the Scholars were level as Mark Branch’s free kick flew over the wall and found the back of the net perfectly.

Obeng’s shot on 39 minutes flew across the face of goal in similar fashion to John Branch’s earlier effort, before the Scholars were handed a clear chance to take the lead from the penalty spot in the 44th minute but Birch’s tamely struck kick was saved by Phil Smart who dived low to his left and guessed correctly.

The home side’s lively determination continued after the break, and on the hour United won a penalty after John Branch collided with substitute Craig Bannister.  Price guessed correctly and dived to his right, but not far enough to reach Nick Smith’s spot kick which nestled in the corner to restore the hosts’ lead.

Chasetown briefly showed a fightback after falling behind once more but Bloxwich still had all potential breakthroughs covered with some tough and lively play, Wilkes’s shot cannoning off the underside of the bar on 65 minutes while Obeng switched to the wing and could have added a couple more goals only to be denied by the offside flag.

The Scholars’ only other chance came on 86 minutes when Danny Smith’s header was punched away by Smart, and Bloxwich further closed down their opponents in the closing stages to ensure their progress.

Chasetown will aim to pick themselves up in time for the important league match on Saturday (March 6) against Glapwell (3pm kick-off) before travelling to Newcastle Town in the Staffordshire Senior Cup next Tuesday, (March 9), kick-off 7.45pm kick-off.

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