• Callum Pattison

Shifnal Town v Whitchurch Alport FC (Shropshire Senior Cup) - Report and reactions

Super League this, Super League that… some of the purist and most beautiful football can be found on most people’s doorstep. Non-League football clubs can be the heartbeat of so many towns across the nation - Shifnal Town FC is a perfect example of that.

After multiple months away from the game due to the 2nd nationwide lockdown that began in December 2020, some non-league teams have finally resumed playing competitive football once again.

That is the case for Shifnal Town as last night they hosted Whitchurch Alport FC in a group stage game in the Shropshire Senior Cup. This would be Shifnal’s 3rd game back since the return.

The Report

Whitchurch, a side in the league above Shifnal, started the brighter of the two teams. A couple of early chances were squandered by the visitors as Joe Howell and Lewis Jarman both missed opportunities to put Whitchurch ahead inside the opening 20 minutes.

The deadlock was broken with 25 minutes on the clock. Tom Hill prodded the ball home from close range to put Shifnal 1-0 up after Whitchurch failed to clear their lines from a cross down the right-hand side.

The Town’s lead would only last a matter a minutes as Ryan Allcock was brought down in the box leading to the referee pointing to the spot. Byron Harrison stepped up and calmly slotted the ball into the net levelling the game at 1-1.

Shifnal once again took the lead right on the stroke of half-time after a stunning delivery from a corner. The ball was played into the box and newly recruited centre-half Tom Taylor put Shifnal 2-1 in front with a bullet header. The score would be 2-1 to the home side at half-time.

Momentum shifted again as the game resumed for the second half with Whitchurch slowly starting to turn the screw.

Whitchurch’s number 10 Ryan Allcock continued to cause problems down the left-hand side, and he was rewarded for his efforts just before the hour-mark. Allcock neatly controlled a long ball and drove into the box before firing the ball into the net to equalise for Alport.

A couple of minutes later, the visitors were 3-2 ahead - Allcock again causing problems down the left. He delivered a precise cross along the floor to Jud Ellis who had the composure to put his team ahead.

The score-line changed for the final time on 70 minutes. There appeared to be a massive mix-up at the back for Whitchurch which allowed Kyle Montague to go 1-on-1 with the Lewis Dutton. Dutton produced a save from close-range however the ball fell to the feet of Tom Hill who slotted the ball into an empty net – his second goal of the game.

Both sides showed plenty of character in the final 20 minutes as both teams were looking for the winner. Ultimately, the game finished 3-3.

Post-match thoughts

Shifnal’s co-manager Danny Carter gave us a critical analysis of the team’s performance after the game.

“In the first 10-15 minutes we showed them way too much respect. We did not get in their faces, we let them play and we did not play our normal game – We were like a deer in the headlights at times.

“I feel like the penalty incident woke us up, we started to come to life, and we were brilliant after that apart from the 5-10 minutes in the second half where they scored two goals. Only one team deserved to win that tonight, we peppered them most of that second half,” Carter said.

Carter also discussed the way that the players have come back into the team after such a long lay-off due to the latest lockdown.

“We’ve got a good group of lads to be fair. Although it has been hard to keep an eye on them, a lot of them have been going on runs and keeping themselves fit but there is nothing quite like match fitness and playing football.

“We’ve had a few injuries and that’s natural because the players are not used to playing 90 minutes. We want to treat it like pre-season where we stagger towards it giving players 45 minutes then 60 minutes and then we build up to 90 minutes. Now, because you can only have 5 subs, a lot of players are playing 90 minutes and that is where the injuries are coming from.

“We’ve got about 24 players in the squad and we are having to use them all which is natural, but it doesn’t matter what team we put out because we’re confident and we’ve got a good squad,” Carter said.

The beauty of non-league football

It is looking increasingly likely that the proposed European Super League plans may very well be over already. However, this should not defer people’s opinions on how great football truly is. In particular, non-league football is truly great and often gets overlooked far too often.

The passion, the work-rate and the family atmosphere all make it so special. Unfortunately, clubs such as Shifnal are still playing behind closed doors. However, even with just a limited number of people in the ground who are associated with the club, you could still feel that passion and love for the club.

Once these games are no longer behind closed doors, it will be a truly special moment for these non-league clubs to have their supporters backing their team once again from the terraces.

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