On an afternoon where anxiety characterised much of the early
play, the Bucks finally overcame their nerves to emerge comfortable winners
against the only team below them in the table, North Ferriby United.
It had been two weeks since the home side last played a
competitive fixture, and in the interim period they had seen goalkeeper Ryan
Schofield return to Huddersfield Town, his loan cut short, whilst Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
was released to create room in the club’s budget for reinforcements. Taking
their places in an otherwise unchanged starting eleven were new keeper Ben Wilson
and forward Amari Morgan-Smith, both players enjoying fine debuts.
On a still slightly sticky surface, the game got off to a
slow start. Both sides won early corner kicks, but neither were able to capitalise
on the opportunities. Morgan-Smith was showing glimpses of what he can bring to
the Bucks forward line, harrying Ferriby keeper Durrant into a hurried
clearance, then on 10 minutes came the first serious effort on goal; Marcus
Dinanga cut in off the left flank and tried to shoot across Durrant for the far
corner, but his effort went harmlessly wide.
That was a rare moment of excitement. The Villagers hadn’t come
to simply park the bus, but looked limited in terms of attacking options,
whilst the Bucks were perhaps a little rusty after two weeks of inactivity, and
a little edgy. John Marsden missed a chance to shoot on 17 minutes when
checking back onto his left foot after more approach play down the left, where
the Bucks were enjoying free reign. However, it wasn’t long before he found his
range. On 19 minutes, Marsden picked up possession on the left edge of the
penalty area and was given room to strike a right-foot shot firmly across
Durrant and into the far corner, past the keeper’s left hand. It was a well-taken
goal and prompted a huge release of tension from the home crowd.
Just three minutes later it was almost 2-0; from an almost
identical position it was Morgan-Smith who tried his luck, however Durrant got
down well to his left to palm away the striker’s fierce, low drive. Visiting
defender Jack Mail resorted to unfair means to stop Morgan-Smith minutes later,
conceding a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but the Bucks couldn’t use the
opportunity to threaten Durrant’s goal.
The left channel was where the Bucks continued to have the
most joy, and Dinanga and Morgan-Smith both found room there to prosper,
although the latter did also pick up a booking on the half-hour mark, a little
over-eager to continue with the good impression he was making.
Ryan Wilson then pushed into space to beat two men with a
surging run, his cross deflected out for a corner on the left side. The
delivery from Ellis Deeney, who enjoyed a fine game pulling the strings in
midfield, found Connor Johnson at the far post, and his header back into the
six-yard box caused confusion, with Marsden forcing the ball up and off the
crossbar with Durrant flailing. Had the ball crossed the line? Yes, it had, but
not from Marsden’s effort, the assistant ruling that Johnson’s knock-back had
already gone out of play before he retrieved it.
The Villagers made an early substitution, replacing Jamie
Forrester with Ben Clappison. Dinanga put in another cross from the left side
that evaded players in either white or blue shirts, before Anthony Dwyer got
into the act on the right, getting to the goal-line and putting the ball low
through the six-yard box, with no-one getting a touch. Morgan-Smith had checked
his run and was poised for the pull-back but failed to pick out his strike
partner, to Morgan-Smith’s frustration.
Clappison had been on the field for just over five minutes
when he earned a caution, going into referee Watson’s notebook for a foul on
Dwyer. The Bucks forward was then at the heart of things again, when he missed
a glorious chance to put his side two ahead at the interval. Dinanga yet again found space to cross from
the left and he located Dwyer at the far post; however, he got a poor contact
with the goal at his mercy and sliced his shot wide of Durrant’s left post, keeping
the lead at a single goal.
HALF TIME: AFC Telford United 1 North Ferriby United 0
The early second half exchanges were much like the first
half; Ferriby, despite being a goal down, were unable to muster much by way of
a response, and the Bucks weren’t able to find their stride. As a result, the
crowd were quiet, and still a little edgy, conscious perhaps that with just a
1-0 lead their side were still vulnerable to a set-piece or counter-attack.
Visiting left-back Jack Walters slid in to prevent Dinanga
escaping down the right from Marsden’s pass, then Dinanga shot wide from the
left side, Durrant unduly troubled. As is often the case, Marsden was trying to
drive his side forward, and he burst down the right flank, only to see his cross
cut out by the Ferriby defence.
Morgan-Smith was awarded a free-kick 25 yards out when,
having laid the ball wide to Ryan Wilson, he was taken down; the referee waited
to see if the Bucks gained an advantage but then called play back. Marsden
cleared the bar from the free-kick, but moments later was involved again when
he went down under a challenge and was left writhing, with some home fans
claiming he’d been the victim of a stamp; the referee, however, saw nothing
As the half-way mark of the second half arrived the Bucks
began to press for a decisive second goal. Shane Sutton leapt highest to meet a
left-wing corner on 66 minutes, but his effort was blocked by a crowd of
Ferriby players protecting Durrant and the goal. Ferriby made a rare incursion
into the Bucks half, but the largely redundant Ben Wilson plucked the left-wing
cross confidently from the air. Paul Robson, the Villagers’ right-back, went
into the book for a foul and the Bucks got a free-kick, again aimed at Sutton
but cleared for a corner. From that kick, Sutton had the ball in the net,
soaring to power home at the far post, but the referee adjudged that Durrant
was impeded as the ball came over, and the goal was ruled out.
The Bucks replaced Dwyer with Jordan Murphy, then saw Deeney
take a heavy touch and miss a chance to shoot before Marsden cleared the crossbar
with a shot from a similar position on the edge of the box. Finally, on 76
minutes, the Bucks got what they’d been looking for. Ryan Wilson’s cross from
the left travelled all the way across to Morgan-Smith on the right of the box,
and he took a touch before striking a goal-bound shot that was blocked by the
hand of a covering Ferriby defender. There were no huge appeals, but neither
were there many complaints from the visitors, and Morgan-Smith himself took the
kick, planting a firm low shot to Durrant’s right, the keeper going left.
Whilst that didn’t exactly open the floodgates, it did mean
the Bucks had a little more freedom to play. Murphy cut in off the right, only
to see his low shot cut out by a stretching Walters before, on 87 minutes, the
visitors were reduced to ten men. Robson, already booked, looked to leave his
feet when tackling Ryan Wilson and the referee saw little option but to dismiss
the bearded defender. To add insult to their own, self-inflicted injury,
Dinanga then added a third goal in injury time. The forward stepped inside from
the right channel and curled a sumptuous finish beyond Durrant’s right hand to
seal the victory.
FULL TIME: AFC Telford United 3 North Ferriby United 0
Bucks: Ben Wilson, White, Ryan Wilson, Johnson, Sutton (c), Deeney,
Marsden (Leonard 80), Lussey (Cowans 80), Morgan-Smith, Dinanga, Dwyer (Murphy
Unused subs: Leak, Singh.
Scorer: Marsden (19), Morgan-Smith (76p), Dinanga ().
North Ferriby United: Durrant, Robson, Walters, Forrester (Clappison
35), Cooke, Mail, Harrison, Lofts, Agnew, Deacy (Dunkerley 74), Slew (Piercy
Unused subs: Exall, Kyei.
Referee: Dean Watson.
Assistants: Greg Rollason, Alex Grey.