Lambs have to settle for a point
09 August 2008
Tamworth travelled to The Butcher’s Arms Ground for their opening day encounter with The Bloods of Drolysden, relegated form the Blue Square Premier last season.
And although the rain had all but stopped by kick off, both sides had to contend with a wet, but not sodden, pitch.
Bradley Pritchard recovered from an ankle injury as Gary Mills selected a side that had been playing well in the pre-season games, but everyone was well aware that those results counted for nothing as the season got underway.
Both sides started looking to move the ball around on the floor but it was Tamworth who kept their hosts penned in their own half in the opening encounters.
The Bloods gradually forged their way forward and McAughtrie had to be quick to shield a short ball back to Puddy on 5.
Rodman flicked a good long ball on for Sheldon only for the latter to be cut out on 7 and Tamworth did their best to keep up the pressure, soaking up any forward thinking balls from Droylsden.
The first real effort on goal though, came from the home side on 9 when Simon Pickford prodded the ball well wide from the edge of the area after a good run down the left by Neil Prince.
After some good individual skill from Wright in the centre of the park, Sheldon was upended 25 yards out slightly left of target and while Hildreth lined up the dead ball Alex Rodman left the pitch for treatment on following a tackle which left his ankle in pain.
The free kick eventually came and Hildreth chipped into an acre of space at the far post. Sheldon connected but struck the underside of the bar and Pritchard put the bouncing return ball wide of the left hand upright in what should really have been the opening goal of the Lambs season.
On 18 Hildreth left fly from 25 yards with a right footed shot which Kennedy pushed just wide of the left upright for a Lambs corner which came to nothing.
Unfortunately, the opening game of the season finished quickly for Droylsden’s Prince on 23 who, after a challenge, had to be helped from the field with his right leg supported.
The rain was back with a vengeance shortly after but it did little to dampen the travelling supporters behind the goal.
And they had something to celebrate on 27 when Sheldon struck for goal from the left of the area, Wright followed in the rebound when Kennedy failed to collect and Liam Brownhill couldn’t stop the ball going in off his legs (1-0)
Then, Kennedy had to be quick off his mark to prevent Steve Halford’s very strong angled back pass not going straight into his own goal on 34.
A rare attack came from the home side on 37 and ended when Alex Brown took the ball too far (and out of play) before cutting it back into the box after a searching pass from Kevin Townson.
Substitute Carl Lamb almost made The Lambs pay for a lost ball in the Droylsden half on 39 but found Puddy in fine form, flicking his shot after a run of 40 yards, out for a corner. And from the flag kick, Halford headed over the bar.
The home side kept up the pressure which Townson headed straight at Langdon at the far post from a deep cross from the left a minute later as Tamworth tried to get the game back under some sort of control. But Townson crossed from the right on 43 onto the head of Paul Gedman, and the Bloods striker cleared the bar from 6 yards under pressure from McAughtrie.
McAughtrie denied Lamb with a well timed tackle just before the break as the sub surged into the area and Tamworth made it to the half time whistle holding the upper hand.
General consensus amongst the Lambs fans at half time was that Tamworth would do well to get an early goal in the second half and if they carried on defending from the front back they would reap the rewards, but only the next 45 minutes would tell..
Puddy came out of his area to clear a dangerous ball early into the second period and McAugthrie received a booking for a foul on Townson on 54 as the nippy winger sprinted down the left and then the home side equalised through Halford.
He flicked home a header on the edge of the area from a long ball fired from the halfway line and Puddy was left stranded as the ball looped into the net. (1-1)
Wylde went the closest for Tamworth in the second half so far on the hour mark with a header from Hildreth’s freekick, while at the other end spaces in the Lambs back four were being found and hesitancy almost cost them dear as Gedman sprinted through and centred only to find none of his fellow team-mates on the same wavelength.
Droylsden, after their dodgy first half, had now started to look more of a team forcing Tamworth to work even harder but the Lambs still managed to move the ball around well at times and Sheldon was unable to get onto a strong through ball on 68.
A brief respite in proceedings on 73 for cramp in Brownhill’s legs and a tackle on Langdon shortly after brought a booking for The Bloods Pickford.
Puddy left his area to clear a ball looking for Lamb on 66 and McAughtrie mistimed a header clear on 67 which brought loud shouts of handball from the home crowd, but the claims were immediately waved away by the referee.
Ashley Burbeary was his shot from Puddy’s palmed out clearance deflected past the far post a minute later and Halford headed the resultant corner over the bar as Tamworth found themselves on the back foot when the home side pushed forward.
Rodman conceded a freekick as the ball bounced 15 yards out giving another chance to Droylsden which Lamb was unable to convert as the dead ball squirmed through the wall for a corner which Dudgar headed over.
Jake Sheridan became the first sub of the new season, replacing Rodman with 8 to go in a straight swap on the left wing and immediately got a good cross past his marker but straight to keeper Kennedy.
Tamworth forced a corner in added time but McAughtrie’s effort from Sheldon’s flicked rose too steeply and cleared the bar. Another flag kick came from Wright’s run as the seconds ticked down and after the ball had gone out wide McAughtrie hit the woodwork with a header as the whistle blew and both sides had to settle for a point.
Puddy, Smith, Langdon, McAughtrie, Wylde, Foster, Wright, Hildreth, Sheldon, Rodman (Sheridan 82), Pritchard
Subs: Lyttle, Lea, Warburton, Law
Kennedy, Coo, Brownhill (Newton 76), Dugdale, Halford, Soruel, Brown (Burbeary 55), Pickford, Gedman, Townsom, Prince (Lamb 23)
Subs: Cryam, Ellis
Referee: Referee: P. Bramley (Leeds)