WOLSTANTON UTD RES 1 UTTOXETER TOWN 3
UTTOXETER Town returned to Staffs County Senior League Division One action after three consecutive cup matches with victory in a tough fixture against last year’s runners-up Wolstanton United.
Town travelled to the Potteries without injured striker Lee Bagley, but the league newcomers were able to welcome Liam Sowter back to the squad after his recent appendix operation.
On a sodden and deteriorating pitch, Town were gifted an opener with only two minutes on the clock.
Tommy Smith shielded the ball before raking a searching ball towards Rob Collins. The pass seemed destined to be intercepted by Wolstanton’s full back but a mistimed clearance saw Collins, pictured below, through on goal and the winger made no mistake with a clinical finish from 12 yards.
It was the perfect start for the visitors, who entered the game with their undefeated league record still intact, but it was not long before United were pushing Town onto the back foot and when a speculative effort an upright the warning signs were there.
With a quarter of the game gone and Wolstanton adapting to the conditions better than their counterparts, the equaliser arrived when a searching through ball caught the Town back four square and Liam Shaw ran through unopposed to slot home.
It was a wake up call for Town who could not get their game into gear and had United’s right winger not fluffed his lines on 30 minutes, the half-time score could have been worse for the visitors.
Town came out for the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and the management team of Mark Grimley and Andy O’Connor were delighted with how thir side adjusted to the conditions.
A more direct approach forced Wolstanton back, with Kyle Esplin in particular causing all sorts of problems for United.
Skipper Martin Gadsby thought he had put town ahead on 53 minutes when he steered Collins’ corner home but an infringement on the keeper ruled out the goal It was left to an unusual source to put Uttoxeter in front.
Full back Jason Beardsley, who had never previously scored a senior goal, tried his luck from 40 yards with a speculative set piece.
With everyone expecting a cross, including the Wolstanton keeper, the visitors were delighted to see the ball swerve into the roof of the net.
It was no less than Town deserved after a dominating start to the second period and Town’s defence — led by Paddy Farrelly — never looked like throwing the lead away.
It was no surprise when number three arrived on 72 minutes, with Smith again the provider.
He clipped a superb cross to the back post where Jack Holley seemed destined to nod home, but the winger saw his effort hit the bar from close range before Collins was on hand to smash home his second of the match from the rebound.
It brought some breathing space for the visitors and the last quarter could have seen them extend their lead on a number of occasions, substitute Steve Caswell coming closest to number four with a fine turn and shot from 18 yards.
Town are in action at Oldfields on Saturday against Sandbach United, kick-off 2.30pm.
TOWN: Langridge, Beardsley, Richards, Thompson, Farrelly, Holley (Lamburn 81), Gadsby, Esplin, Collins, Smith, Harvey (Caswell 76). Subs not used: Ward, Metcalfe, Connelly, Sowter.
INFINITY IT MAN OF THE MATCH: Kyle Esplin —unplayable at times.