Walsall Ladies secured back to back wins ahead of the winter break with a 5-1 victory against Pelsall Villa Colts last Sunday in their final game of 2019 at Dales Lane, extending first team manager Donna Simpson-Ash’s 100 % winning start at the helm.
The Saddlers looked to take the initiative early on in similar fashion to that against Shrewsbury Juniors last week where there were two goals in the first three minutes. This week, Karys Craddock scored within 90 seconds of the first half with a shot from 18 yards out that squirmed under the goalkeeper and into the net to give the home side the early advantage.
However, unlike last week, the Ladies were unable to add another soon after and it was the visitors who scored the second early goal as they equalised after a lapse in concentration at the back with just eight minutes on the clock.
Although it wasn’t the most attractive game early on for the neutral eye, it was certainly open and expansive. Both teams had openings but neither team took control of proceedings as the first half progressed. That was until Franci Roelake pounced on a rebound in the 16th minute and calmly slotted past the keeper to regain the lead for the Saddlers and make it 2-1.
The visitors then had a couple of chances to respond after Roelake’s strike. Firstly, a shot from a tight angle was dragged just wide and shortly after an effort from range forced last week’s player of the match Lucy Hargrave into a superb save to preserve the lead.
The Saddlers kept their lead intact until half time, with the game quietening down in the final 20 minutes of the first 45.
As the weather took a turn for the worse, the game suddenly went from being cagey and scrappy to an open affair with chances at both ends. Within five minutes of the restart a snapshot flew just wide from a Pelsall corner. The Ladies then went down the other end shortly after this and Craddock, in red hot form, raced through on goal, took it past the onrushing keeper and slid home from just inside the box to give the Saddlers a two-goal cushion, much to the delight of her teammates.
That goal came completely against the run of play however, as just three minutes after the goal the home side survived another scare from a corner. An almighty scramble led to a superb goal line clearance and the woodwork was tested next as a thunderbolt from just outside the box hit the underside of the bar and somehow stayed out.
Pelsall were made to rue those missed opportunities as just after the hour mark the Saddlers made it 4-1 with Craddock securing herself another hat-trick. Her looping shot from 20 yards evaded the goalkeeper and dropped in to all but seal the points.
Into the last ten minutes and the visitors were not giving up hope just yet. A swirling shot from range was expertly tipped over by Hargrave, who put in another solid performance for the second week in a row in the Saddlers net.
With four minutes to go, Craddock then nearly had a fourth goal but her free kick was ruled out for what we can only presume was for an offside. Craddock was not to be denied however as she fired past the onrushing keeper in the dying embers of the game to complete the scoring for the Ladies and help Walsall to another convincing victory at home.
That was the last of the action as Karys Craddock scored four goals for the second week in succession to help the Saddlers secure an impressive 5-1 victory against Pelsall Villa Colts at Dales Lane, with a trip to Tamworth awaiting them next month after the winter break.
Photos courtesy of Jenny Merrett and Kevin Grice
Match Report by Will Madden