From Chris Ponter:
Ledbury Town 0, Gala Wilton 1
Following on from their convincing 5-2 victory against Gloucester and District Sunday League Premier Division outfit AFC Renegades at New Street last weekend, Ledbury Town received a reality check in much drearier conditions again at their historic home ground this week, losing out 1-0 against Gala Wilton as part of a second consecutive pre-season friendly double header event with the two sides’ reserves teams.
The two senior squads, with Ledbury under the new management of Ian Merrick who himself formerly managed their MARCLIFF Gloucestershire County Football League Division One opponents on the day to add that little extra spice to the encounter, had to contend with heavy downpours at times during a friendly fixture which was anything but amiable at times as both Town’s Joel Skyers and a Gala counterpart picked up yellow cards from referee for the day Jonathan Williams, as Bradley Loveridge netted the sole goal of the game.
An opening corner ball from the visitors led to a free header which was just palmed off the bar via a good save from Town first team Managers’ Player and Players’ Player award winner of last season Joshua Worrell, before returning striker Josh Burns slotted the ball just wide of the near post.
A succession of corner balls failed to provide anything of value for both teams over the course of the next ten minutes as Loveridge then lobbed new home captain Worrell for what was to be the only mark on the scoresheet for either side that afternoon on the 20thminute.
A challenge from Nathan Ince led to the referee awarding a free kick to the Gloucester outfit which they knocked wide of the target, before Pete Jeynes battled hard against an opposing forward between the Ledbury box and near corner flag as the increasingly physical nature of the game in tandem with the evermore slippery conditions started to become apparent.
Good midfield work from Town man of the match that day and also reserves’ Players’ Player and Ledbury Football Federation Young Player Award winner of last season George Walker enabled Burns to have another shot at goal which again flew wide of the woodwork, before home management and players alike made their disdain towards the official felt when Jonathan Williams awarded a further free kick to Gala in front of the home dugout.
Ledbury temperaments were done no further favours when a two-footed challenge from a visiting defender went unpunished on the half-hour mark, with Skyers being the first to receive one of the two bookings doled out by the referee that day for a late challenge on the far wing upfield.
Burns struck the ball well wide after receiving the ball from Matt Rooke in the box following a further free kick from Skyers on the far sideline, before a physical 40thminute challenge from Jeynes nevertheless saw Town’s opponents being shown the afternoon’s other yellow card when Joshua Tomkins fell victim to a foul committed in the centre-circle.
Gala couldn’t obtain the cushion of a second goal before the interval despite a number of further corner ball opportunities, with the rain intensifying going into the latter period of play as a superb cross from a visiting attacker just missed out on being finished by a header in the box by mere inches, as Tomkins saw a good run downfield thwarted by a defender in the box.
Burns was brought down by a challenge towards the touchline in the box which by this point left the unlucky marksman and his team-mates furious with the official, with the hosts’ hopes of a second consecutive pre-season win continuing to be as gloomy as the weather that afternoon as Skyers put the ball wide after a 55thminute corner ball from Tomkins found its way out to him on the near wing.
With half an hour of play remaining, Merrick chose to make a shake-up to his squad with Sam Branch and Chris Wickham coming on to replace Jeynes and Skyers, and after a handball offence committed by the opposition led to Curt Williams, also making his first appearance for the hosts since the end of last season putting his free kick over the bar, new Ledbury Town chairman himself Pete Boyle and a returning Charlie Docherty entered the fray in exchange for Curt Williams and Neil Gardiner as Gala made a substitution of their own.
The home club boss wasted no time in making his presence on the pitch felt by feeding a good ball to Burns, whose shot was deflected via a great block from the visiting keeper, before a 73rdminute free kick this time delivered by Burns was struck against the three-man wall of opposing defenders guarding the edge of the box.
Worrell safely caught a corner ball at the near post, with a Gala striker putting another ball over the woodwork on the rebound off a Tom Trigg deflection as Matt Rooke put in some good defensive work upfield as the seconds ticked away for Ledbury to find the equalizer.
Boyle was clipped in midfield to see a free kick from Curt Williams not quite being finished in the box by Docherty while under pressure from the visiting defence, as one final spot kick from the previous Town set-piece taker landed wide of the post to signal the end of a miserable afternoon in more ways than one for Merrick’s side against an opposing outfit who appeared physically fitter on the day on account of their new league campaign starting in seven days’ time.
QUICK MATCH FACTS
LEDBURY TOWN STARTING LINE-UP:
1 – Joshua Worrell (captain)
2 – Joel Skyers
3 – Pete Jeynes
4 – Tom Trigg
5 – Matt Rooke
6 – Josh Tomkins
7 – Curt Williams
8 – George Walker
9 – Nathan Ince
10 – Josh Burns
11 – Neil Gardiner
SUBS – Sam Branch (on for Pete Jeynes at 60 min), Chris Wickham (on for Joel Skyers at 60 min), Charlie Docherty (on for Curt Williams at 70 min), Pete Boyle (on for Neil Gardiner at 70 min)
GOALSCORERS – Bradley Loveridge (20 min, Gala Wilton)
YELLOW CARDS – Joel Skyers (30 min)
STAR PLAYER – George Walker
REFEREE – Jonathan Williams
ATTENDANCE – 70