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Dudley Sports 3 Shawbury United 3
11:08pm Tuesday 19th February 2013 in Sport
A STOPPAGE time equaliser from Jason Walters completed an unlikely comeback for Dudley Sports against high-flying Shawbury United.
The visitors held a comfortable two goal lead at the break thanks to goals from Lester Alderson and Robbie Millington.
Mark Gore pulled one back for Sports, before Alderson grabbed his second to restore the two goal lead.
But Jack Moore struck back for the hosts almost immediately and Walters completed the fightback when he forced home from close range.
The goal sparked wild celebrations on the pitch and in the home dugout, as Sports earned a point which looked distinctly unlikely at half-time.
Shawbury had more than warranted the two goal lead and their advantage would have been greater but for some poor finishing, combined with some excellent keeping from Sports’ Sam Pearson.
But the days when Sports would have folded and gone on to lose heavily are long gone and Gore’s goal early in the second half gave them hope. Likewise, Moore’s effort quickly negated the pain of Alderson making it 3-1 and while the Shawbury goal was threatened only occasionally in the final half hour, the hosts did enough to hang around before Walters delivered the sucker punch.
The late goal was no doubt celebrated down the road at Sports’ near neighbours Lye Town. Shawbury are one of the Stourbridge Road outfits main rivals for the West Midlands Premier crown and on this will certainly feel like two points dropped.
The visitors have won no fewer than ten times on the road this season and it was easy to see why in the early stages, as the front line of Millington and Stuart Ellis, coupled with the marauding left wing runs of Lee Constantine caused havoc for the Sports back four.
Millington stung Pearson’s palms with a powerful drive, before Ellis came within inches of breaking the deadlock when he went clear, only to lift his shot onto the top of the bar.
Sports were not without chances themselves, Craig Stevens and Dean Williams both shooting wide from the edge of the box.
But gradually Shawbury began to take control and the hosts were forced further and further back into their own half, with both Millington and Ellis guilty of shooting straight at Pearson after breaking clear in the box.
Given how well Sports largely dealt with the pressure, the ease with which Shawbury took the lead on the half hour will have caused much frustration. Alderson took possession 25 yards from goal and while his initial flick to escape the attentions of Walter was eye-catching, he then remained unchallenged as he danced into the box before firing left-footed past Pearson.
Shawbury’s attacks were looking ever more ominous and only a smart save from Pearson, followed by a brace block from Mark Bache, prevented James Askey doubling the lead.
As it was, the second goal arrived just moments after Sports had almost equalised. After forcing a rare corner, Walters failed to make firm contact with Craig Stevens’ delivery. The ball was put behind for another corner but this time Shawbury cleared, setting up a breathtaking counter attack as Millington danced down the left wing and fired a cross-field ball to Constantine, before advancing into the box and finishing past Pearson at the second attempt after collecting his team-mate’s return ball.
Sports needed a response early in the second half and got it within four minutes of second half when Moore broke clear before setting up Gore, whose ability to finish from six yards out while falling over at the same time almost certainly wrong-footed Nick Ashley in the visiting goal.
The fightback looked like being short-lived when Alderson reacted quickest to blast home after Lloyd McGowan’s free-kick had fallen loose six yards out.
But Sports hit-back just two minutes, Luke Astley sending a ball over the top for the unmarked Moore who promptly lifted a delightful first time lob over the advancing Ashley.
The hosts could have been level within a minute, this time Dean Williams broke away on the right hand side of the box but Ashley stood tall and saved the shot.
Shawbury were starting to look nervous and their attacking play lacked the fluidity of the first period, though only a linesman’s flag prevented Mark Stallard easing any worries with a fourth after he nodded home a McGowan free-kick.
Substitute Ben Store volleyed wide from distance at the other end, while referee Phil Reade added to the tension with a series of bizarre bookings for both sides.
While Shawbury looked comfortable on the whole, neither were they testing Pearson and instead it was Ashley who breathed a sigh of relief when Ryan Jenkins fired straight at him from 12 yards out following the home side’s move of the match.
The visitors must have thought they had done enough but as the clock ticked past 90 minutes, Sports forced a corner. Moore’s initial header from Stevens’ delivery was kept out by a combination of Ashley and a defender but the ball dropped to Walters who fired home.
There was still time for Millington’s deflected shot to loop just over at the other end but there was no saving grace for the visitors.
SPORTS: Pearson, Astley, Holloway, Bache, Walters, Williams, Stevens (c), Williams (Store 76), Moore, Gore (Crane 86), Butler (Jenkins 76) Subs not used: Tibbetts, Sumner.
Goals: Gore 49, Moore 59, Walters 90+1.
SHAWBURY: Ashley, Murphy, Ballard, Stallard, Askey, McGowan, Alderson, Beddoes (Dunphy C 69), Millington, Ellis (c), Constantine (Dunphy L) Sub not used: Turner.
Goals: Alderson 30 57, Millington 41.