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North Ferriby United match report
Morgan-Smith seals Bucks debut with a goal to defeat Villagers

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 untoward.

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 71).

Unused subs: Leak, Singh.

Scorer: Marsden (19), Morgan-Smith (76p), Dinanga ().

Bookings: Morgan-Smith.

North Ferriby United: Durrant, Robson, Walters, Forrester (Clappison 35), Cooke, Mail, Harrison, Lofts, Agnew, Deacy (Dunkerley 74), Slew (Piercy 62).

Unused subs: Exall, Kyei.

Bookings: Robson.

Dismissals: Robson.

Referee: Dean Watson.

Assistants: Greg Rollason, Alex Grey.

Attendance: 919.

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