Atletico chopped down as Walsall Wood inflict first home defeat of the season, with Dom Smith also
seeing a red card in the second half to round off a miserable evening for AFC.
Gary Birch brought his big sending title favourites to Stade de St John, but were gift wrapped
an early 0-2 lead by some staggering negative tactics from AFC. Starting with just Sam Agar up
front, he was easily contained by the Conference and Football League experience of Darren Campion,
Gavin Hurren and Chris Slater in the Wood back line. And thus inviting Wood to attack, this they
did, taking the lead as early as the 5th minute when a throw on the left was not defended well
and the ball crossed central for Joe Butlin to blast in from close range. The lead was doubled
on 20 minutes, again on the left the ball was played central and this time Peter Till half
volleyed past Haydn Whitcombe giving AFC a mountain to climb and leaving the team on the back
foot for the rest of the game. Hinckley did get a goal back immediately, mainly thanks to the
tenacity of Agar as he received the ball in the left channel and rode a strong challenge,
holding the ball up until Lee Butler could run in central where Agar crossed and Butler scored
from close in. This only papered over the AFC cracks, and even though Agar made the keeper
save low to his left no more scoring chances could be created.
A fine double save from Whitcombe early in the second half just kept Hinckley holding on, and
when George Bowerman came on as a substitute he almost scored with his first touch, but Lloyd
Ransome got down well to smother the ball at his feet. Within minutes of the game nearly being
all square AFC found themselves down 1-3, as a superb free kick from Jordan Fitzpatrick nestled
in the top left corner of the net. Any chance of a comeback was gone in the following 5 minutes,
as first Dominic Smith was left with little option but to bring down Tony Clarke when in a goal
scoring opportunity and was rightly shown a red card, and from the resulting free kick, Whitcombe
did well to save the original shot, but Clarke was quickest to the ball and scored Wood's fourth.
With no further chances created Walsall easily saw out the rest of the match to win and continue
their charge back to the premier division.
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