Graham Ward’s relieved to prevail in the Vase

Boss Graham Ward praised his Bridgnorth battlers after they booked their place in the first round of the FA Vase.

Graham Ward
Graham Ward

The Crown Meadow men face a trip to United Counties League Division One side Harrowby United at the end of the month following Saturday’s hard-fought success at Pershore Town.

Ward and his new-look squad have endured a testing start to the season and are still chasing their first West Midlands League Premier Division victory, but the boss was delighted with his side’s efforts in Worcestershire.

“I have to admit I was feeling the pressure a little bit on Saturday because we hadn’t won in five,” said Ward. “As a manager you start to look at yourself when things aren’t going as well as you would hope.

“It’s been a tough start to the season. We have had injuries to contend with and some tough games, playing Shifnal twice and Worcester Raiders.

“The Wednesfield defeat hurt me the week before, because we didn’t compete and that was disappointing.

“All I asked of the lads on Saturday was to go out there and give it a good go. With the rain and the state of the pitch, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. But I just asked them to fight for themselves, their team-mates and the club. And they did that. I was really pleased with the response.”

Jake Walton marked his first start for the club by bagging the only goal of the game, while keeper Chris Crook saved a penalty.

“I know if we can keep a clean sheet, we have players who can create chances,” added Ward. “And that’s what happened. We kept the door closed at the back and then took our chance when it came along.

“The clean sheet pleased me more than anything. It was our first of the season.”

Shifnal Town saw their Vase hopes ended by Midland League Premier Division outfit Coventry Sphinx.

Visiting Shifnal more than matched their higher ranked hosts, but left themselves with too much to do after being hit by two goals inside four first-half minutes.

Some wayward finishing also ensured it was an afternoon to forget for the West Midlands League Premier Division leaders.

After an early scare which saw Sphinx’s Jamal Adams fire an effort just over the bar clearing the crossbar, Shifnal went close when Rees Wedderburn side-footed wide from 15 yards following good interplay between Jay Holdcroft and Tom Hill.

But the visitors’ defence was then caught in disarray when a cross from the right was headed in by Adams with 11 minutes on the clock.

That advantage was doubled four minutes later – Adams the man on target again with a near-post finish.

From that point on, it was largely the visitors dictating the play. Kyle Montague went close twice before half-time and Shifnal continued to press after the break with Brad Sharman and Wedderburn seeing goalbound shots blocked.

Wedderburn then saw his low cross from the left deflected for a corner with two attackers homing in to convert.

Sphinx’s keeper Jude O’Connor misjudged a teasing cross from Montague, but Jake Webb was unable to get the ball over the line.

O’Connor then produced a fine save to tip over a thunderbolt from Jordan Uppal. The last action of the game saw the home keeper excel again by turning an angled drive from Webb behind for a corner by O’Connor.

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