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Willenhall Town FC 0 Chasetown FC 1

It may not have been the demolition job that some had envisaged, but Chasetown did what was needed to take all three points at a wet Willenhall Town.

This was far from the side’s best performance of the season, but having taken an early lead through Gavin Saunders the Scholars kept the pressure on the UniBond South basement club throughout with the play becoming scrappier towards the end.

The Scholars, missing Dave Egan and Richard Teesdale due to injury and the suspended Vaughan Thomas, got off to the best start possible when Duncan Horler’s header was tipped around the post by home keeper Matt Jones in the third minute.  Mark Branch’s resultant corner was headed home unchallenged by Saunders for his long-awaited first goal for Chasetown.

The strong start continued with Danny Smith working tirelessly in attack, while Ross Miller’s long ball over the defence on six minutes was well-placed for Duncan Horler but Jones plucked his header away.

A Saunders free kick was then pushed over the bar by Jones before Grant Ryan was dispossessed by Wayne Brown at the point of shooting, and it was still Chasetown all the way over the first quarter of the game.

Willenhall’s first attacking display did not come until midway through the half but the visitors were soon back in charge with Ryan and Mark Branch having chances saved and Smith heading a Saunders corner wide.

Jones continued to counter several of the Scholars’ efforts including a fine save from Chris Horton’s overhead kick on 36 minutes, and the home side slowly began to look more resourceful in the run-up to the break.

The Lockmen had clearly rallied themselves during the interval as Andy Dunkerley was straight on the attack from the whistle, while Gary Hay and Mark Branch both had efforts blocked.

Jones was still in good form in the hosts’ goal, palming over Ryan’s shot on 52 minutes before a mistake by his opposite number Ryan Price almost handed Lockmen debutant Gavin Davies an equaliser but his effort went wide.

Smith and Ryan were working hard in the Scholars attack but could not find the finishing blow, with Ramone Stephens providing similar speed when he replaced the latter on 67 minutes but he found his efforts thwarted repeatedly as the home side dug deeper.

The former Rushall man’s first attack saw him team up with fellow substitute Gary Birch to set up Horler in front of goal, but his shot went high and wide as did his next two efforts minutes later.

Despite some hard work between Smith, Birch and Ben Steane over the closing minutes, plus a dismissed penalty appeal after Jones collided with Stephens in the final minute, Chasetown were destined not to find a second but secured the required points to close on their promotion rivals.

The Scholars are next in action in the Walsall Senior Cup as they visit Bloxwich United on Thursday (March 4) for a 7.45pm kick-off, before entertaining Glapwell at the Scholars Ground next Saturday (March 6), 3pm kick-off.

Willenhall: Jones, Davies, Brown, Griffiths (c), Calder, Dorgan, Nicholls, Pomroy-Crowe, Dunkerley, M Robertson, Worley.  Subs: N Robertson (Pomroy-Crowe 77), Humpage, Porter (M Robertson 84), Goodwin, Rose (Worley 57).
Chasetown: Price, Miller, M Branch, Slater, Saunders, Horton, Smith, J Branch (c), Hay, Ryan, Horler.  Subs: Steane (Smith 84), Stephens (Ryan 67), Embrey, Farmer, Birch (Hay 57).

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