Uttoxeter Town 2 v 1 Hanley Town Reserves
UTTOXETER Town hosted their first Saturday home match of the Staffordshire County Senior League Division One season and reigning champions Hanley Town reserves stood in the way of Mark Grimley’s men making it five wins from five.
The fans turned out in force to support the Oldfields outfit, with an impressive crowd of 171 cheering on the hosts.
But the majority would have been disappointed with the first quarter-hour as Town struggled to find any rhythm to their play.
It was a disjointed start from Town, who were looking to build on last week’s emphatic victory at Redgate Clayton and there was no surprise when Hanley took the lead on 14 minutes.
The goal was as good as any seen at Oldfields as Mark Groom volleyed home brilliantly from 18 yards into the far top corner.
Had Town keeper Alex Langridge not been in fine form minutes later, Uttoxeter could have found themselves with a mountain to climb, but the stopper was equal to two Hanley efforts to keep the hosts in the game.
As the half wore on Uttoxeter slowly began to assert themselves and chances began to arrive for the league debutants.
Kyle Esplin found his range with a 20-yard drive before skipper Martin Gadsby bizarrely had a header disallowed for a foul.
As half-time approached there was little between the two sides, with Groom’s wonder strike the only difference.
Management duo Grimley and Andy O’Connor’s halftime team talk seemed to inspire the hosts in the second 45 as Town took the game to the champions.
Not for the first time this season it was deadly strike duo of Lee Bagley and Tommy Smith that fired Town to second in the table.
An individual piece of magic by Smith drew the scores level on 54 minutes.
The powerful front man found himself a yard of space 20 yards out and rifled a beautiful left footed shot into the top corner, with the Hanley keeper well beaten.
Town began to turn the screw, with wingers Jack Holley and Rob Collins becoming more prominent in proceedings and it was Collins’ perfect cross that gave Bagley the opportunity to put Town in front.
The striker rose majestically at the far post to crash his header home off the underside of the bar to the delight of the watching faithful.
Holley had three opportunities to extend the lead as fulltime approached but despite being unable to add to their lead Town will be delighted with a hard fought three points against a useful Hanley outfit.
The win takes Town second in the table with a perfect record after five games and next weekend’s home fixture against MMU will no doubt provide another stern test for Grimley’s men.
GOALS: Smith 54, Bagley 71.
TOWN: Langridge, Ward, Jenkins, Beardsley, Richards (Poxon 88), Holley, Gadsby, Esplin, Smith, Bagley, Collins. Subs not used; Metcalfe, Harvey, Thompson, Caswell
ST14 CONSTRUCTION MAN OF THE MATCH: Tommy Smith — non-stop work rate and a superb goal.