10 Man Stags Overcome Saints HOME WIN FOR WRAYSBURY
Report by Ross Clark
Wraysbury welcomed Stoke Poges Saints to the Memorial in a came with huge implications on the top of the East Berks Football League division 1 table. Wraysbury, sitting top of the pile, 9 points ahead of the Saints who held 3 games in hand, so a win for either side gave them a huge momentum boost heading into the final weeks of the season.
Wraysbury continued in the 4 2 3 1 formation with the starting line up as follows;
Nathan Woakes, Luke White, Mitch Formaisano, Ollie Pitt, Carl Williams, Dan Scarlett, John Mallard ©, Dan Stock, Mack Bermingham, Kalim Ahmed and Garret Pikulak.
The Stags sub bench was Perrie Dhesi, Jack Quelch, Richard Clark-Wilson, Sean Hill and Brandon Blair.
Given the how tight the previous fixture was between these 2 sides, the Stags ran out 1 – 0 winners early in the season, Wraysbury were expecting a strong start from an in form Stoke Poges outfit and this was exactly what happened with a succession of early set pieces.
The Saints looked a big side on the day and were clearly looking for their set piece to have a major impact. However, the Stags dealt well with this threat and didn’t concede a shot on goal from the early bombardment. It was the stags who created the first major chance of the game with a Bermingham pass to Pikulak, who flicked a header on for Ahmed, who timed his run to perfection and forced the keeper into a good early save.
Wraysbury were starting to click now and Ahmed and Pikulak combined again with the latter’s low drive turned behind for a corner. This turned out to be the last major goalmouth action of the half as both teams seemed to set into their defensive patterns.
The stags especially, who were forcing the Saints forwards constantly to run offside with an excellent high line, were happy to dig in as the occasion of the game clearly high on the mind of both sides. Half time Wraysbury Village 0 – 0 Stoke Poges Saints.
The Stags made 1 change at the break with Sean Hill replacing Dan Stock. Hill slotted into a midfield 3 with Bermingham moving to the left flank. This change almost paid instant dividends as Bermingham, Pikulak and Hill all combined before skipper mallard slashed a shot at goal which the keeper did well to turn behind for a corner.
Bermingham stepped up to take the corner and whipped in a demon of a cross, Formaisano who ran across the box glanced on this on and the back-post run of Ahmed was never matched and he headed home from close range. The Stags got the opening goal that their early play in the half deserved.
However, the pendulum was about to swing again as Stoke Poges broke down our left-hand side, White slid in for a tackle, having been booked in the first half for a coming together, the referee determined this was worthy of a second yellow and sent him off. The Stags one nil up, were down to 10 men with 35 minutes of the game still to play.
The stags responded with a double change, Dhesi on for Williams and Blair or for Ahmed. Stoke Poges were committing men forward now trying to use their man advantage and this resulted in a shot at goal, well saved by Woakes low down.
Wraysbury were now looking to play smart counter attacking football and they almost got in behind, Blair racing through before being cynically chopped down, no yellow card issued, he himself stood up for the freekick but couldn’t get his shot on target.
Wraysbury were still playing their high line and got it right again as the Saints forward put the ball in the net, having been several yards offside, sparking a big celebration from the Wraysbury back line. Pikulak, who had pulled up with a dead leg, was replaced by Clark-Wilson with Bermingham going to Striker.
Bermingham was now setting the tone for the team with an incredible work rate up front to drag the stags further up the field. He was then replaced himself by Quelch, who almost made an instant impact, he also had the ball in the net, but was flagged offside. What was already a boiling game was heating up into the last 10 minutes.
Stoke Poges were now throwing everything the had at Wraysbury and almost leveled with an audacious over head kick, which again was saved by Woakes, he knew a clean sheet now meant 3 points for his side. But it was his quick thinking that sent Blair away from is long kick down the left hand side, Blair through on goal, chose this moment to show an incredible team attitude as he squared the ball with just the keeper to beat, for the on rushing Clark-Wilson to bury the ball high into the net. His finish sparking wild celebrations both on the Wraysbury bench and for the home supporters at the Memorial. Full Time Wraysbury Village 2 – 0 Stoke Poges Saints.
The Frost Partnership man of the Match – Dan Scarlett
From Management, Jake Bermingham said;
“This was a solid performance, in which we created chances, especially in the 1st half. We need to be more clincal going forward but the highlight for today was the togetherness the squad showed, they really pulled together and battled for the 3 points. We need the same mentality in the remaining fixtures. A Special shout to Dan Scarlett, our Ngolo Kante! He really needs to let someone else have a turn at winning Man of the Match”