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Walsall Wood FC Reserves 0 Chasetown FC Reserves 3

Chasetown FC Reserves maintained their position at the top of the Midland Combination Reserve Division after beating local neighbours Walsall Wood at Oak Park.

As early as the third minute Ellis was forced to push out a 25 yard attempt on goal with Jimmy Welnitschuk hitting the upright from the rebound as Chasetown attempted to exert their authority on the game early on.

It didn’t take long for the Scholars to take the lead, in the 5th Minute a high ball into the penalty area was dropped by Wood keeper Ellis under pressure and Welnitschuk was on hand to punish the mistake and slot the ball into the empty net.

With the home defence at sixes and sevens, a poor clearance fell to skipper Jamie Hawkins who shot narrowly wide from the edge of the penalty area.

Daniel O’Callaghan shot just over from 25 yards as the Scholars tried to capitalise further on their early pressure.

The home side’s first chance came in the 13th minute. Minto broke clear of the Scholars defence, but Jack Hulin recovered well to rob the forward of the ball as he closed in on goal. Then 10 minutes later Wood had their best chance as Scholars keeper John Green did well to block a header from close range from the unmarked Clarke.

Then home forward Minto shot just wide from 15 yards as the hosts began to gain the upper hand.

However, it was Chasetown who made it 2-0 on 32 minutes, with the best goal of the game. Jimmy Welnitschuk found space on the left and delivered a delightful cross that was met powerfully by Daniel O’Callaghan who guided his header into the bottom left hand corner of the net past the diving Ellis.

A Tom Billingham lofted through ball saw Welnitschuk force an error from Murray in the home defence, but the Scholars forward blazed his shot over from 10 yards with only Ellis to beat.

The Wood keeper then lost his footing on the frosty ground, but managed to scramble back to save a speculative effort on his goal from distance.

Chasetown increased their lead after only two minutes of the second half, Welnitschuk completing his brace of goals by clipping the ball over the diving Ellis from close range from a Daniel O’Callaghan right wing cross.

The home side looked to bounce back with Clarke’s header forcing Green to save low down from a Wylde cross.

On 56 minutes Wylde should have done better as his free header on goal going narrowly wide from a Walsh cross.

Four minutes later, Hawkins’ through ball from deep inside his own half left substitute Jack Scandrett in the clear, but the Chasetown forward was stopped in his tracks by an excellent sliding tackle from the impressive Preston.

The home side won a penalty on 64 minutes as Link was upended by Billingham’s sliding challenge. From the resulting penalty Clarke took a short run up and produced a weak effort that Green comfortably saved diving to his left.

In freezing conditions the final 20 minutes of the game deteriorated into a scrappy, error-strewn affair as both sides gave possession away needlessly.

The dying moments were only lifted by a couple of chances for the Scholars. On 88 minutes, full back Tom O’Callaghan tried his luck from 35 yards but his effort was comfortably held by Ellis. Then in the final minute Andrew Westwood’s through ball was superbly controlled by Welnitschuk, but Wood defender Preston denied the striker a hat-trick with a perfectly timed sliding challenge.

With seconds remaining Ellis saved Welnitschuk’s effort at his near post to prevent any further scoring.

Next week’s action for Chasetown Reserves sees them entertain their old rivals Boldmere St Michaels in the Challenge Bowl Semi-Final 1st Leg on Saturday (February 6), kick off at the Scholars Ground is 3pm.

Chasetown: Green, Tom O’Callaghan, Rock, Lewis, Hulin, Larvin, Billingham, Hawkins (c), Welnitschuk, Faherty, Daniel O’Callaghan.  Subs: Westwood (Rock 68), Ivers (Hawkins 63), Robinson, Degville-Cross, Scandrett (Faherty 54).

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