Lambs off to winning start
14 August 2004
There were celebrations at the Lamb on Saturday when Mark Cooper’s part time squad showed exactly why they will be a force to be reckoned with this season, coming back from a goal down inside the first 10 minutes to take all three points against full time Halifax Town.
Returning striker Tris Whitman scored what was to be the winning goal half an hour into the fast paced first half, and Cooper hopes the former Doncaster and Scarborough striker can keep it up. “Tris needs to play like that every week – if he does he will set the league alight”.
While Whitman shone, he was not the only Lamb to impress Cooper who praised all his squad for a magnificent performance “Despite going down to that early goal our heads didn’t drop and we fought back strongly. Plus, once we had retained some control on the game we started to play– passing the ball and creating enjoyable football to watch as well.”
Martin Foster gave the visiting side the lead after just 6 minutes following good work by Lewis Kileen and Ryan Sugden. When the ball skipped free to the former Blackpool player he made no mistake, striking home from a few yards out.
Tamworth almost levelled the tie with a 25 yard free kick from Cooper and Whitman forced former Shrewsbury ‘keeper Ian Dunbavin to tip a long-range effort over the bar.
Sustained Lambs pressure paid off shortly afterwards when a free kick midway into the Halifax half on 18 minutes allowed Scott Stamps to release a left foot curler onto the head of the unmarked Aaron Brown for the equaliser.
The Lambs then shocked the visitors by taking the lead on 28 minutes with another header after on debutant on-loan striker Neil Ross watched his blocked attempt bounce free for Whitman to nod home at the far post.
At the other end Steve Bushell and Darren Hockenhill combined well but lacked the killer touch in front of goal and 10 minutes after the break a moment of stupidity by Halifax’s Steve Haslam ensured that the Shaymen would finish the game with just 10 mean. Chad Sheppard, accelerating over the half way line, was on the receiving end of Haslam’s rugby tackle that required no less a punishment than referee Mr Shoebridge’s red card.
Shaymen boss Chris Wilder believed his side should have had at least a point from the game. “I thought we were the better side even after the sending off,” Wilder said post match, “Steve (Haslam) was not the last man and I had enough on my plate without worrying about the ref as well.”
But Halifax did not lie back and continued to push for an equaliser which was denied by the wood work. Killeen’s cross was headed against the bar by substitute Dean Howell and although Wilder made some tactical changes –finishing with four up front – Halifax could not find a way through the home defence.
Tamworth continued to impress and Ross could have put the game beyond the Shaymen’s reach on 72 threading onto a delightful Cooper through ball, but the on rushing Dunbavin forced him to screw the shot wide the post. Whitman continued made mincemeat of the Halifax defence, but no more goals were forthcoming at a tense Lamb and the roar of approval that emanated from the home supporters when the whistle blew was music to ‘The Gaffa’s’ ears.
A. Smith; Redmile; A. Brown; Stamps;
Blunt ; Ebdon; Cooper; Sheppard;
Ross (May 80); Whitman (Shaw 86)
Unused: Bampton, Johnson, Turner
Monroe (Howell 56); Quinn; Ingram
Hockenhill (Monington 76); Bushell; Haslam; Foster; Doughty
Killeen (Mallen 76); Sugden
Unused: Willis; Hoyle
Referee: Mr. R. Shoebridge (Derbys)
MOM: Matt Redmile and Tris Whitman