Following a 1-4 reverse against Droitwich Spa in midweek, Tipton Town, hugely conscious of their involvement as Finalists in their B-ham Saturday Vase Cup Final on Saturday 11th May when they compete against Enville Athletic, rested several players for this final home game of the season. Most fortunately for them their replacements came up trumps, enabling Tipton to deservedly garner all three points albeit so very late in the second half.

The visitors, Team Dudley, opened the encounter positively, twice encroaching into the home penalty area, fine defensive work by Kieran Smith and Lleyton Gould denying them from any real scoring opportunity. Mark Cartwright’s defensive header blunted another raid by the visitors before an eye-catching move featuring Tipton skipper, Sam Hesson, Connor Scott and Connor Garrett in the 6th minute fully tested the visitor’s resolve.

Responding well down the left flank, Team Dudley saw Alex Norris cut out a left wing cross before the home club were most fortunate when a scorching drive from the right flank by Alex Pinches simply cannoned off the home post !. Tipton hit back, Luke Johnson’s hurried effort squirming wide of the Dudley goal with the visiting keeper, Josh Rogers, somewhat out of his ground. Looking dangerous again Team Dudley forced Tipton back, Lleyton Gould denying them any further progress with a well-judged interception before finding Matthew Hogg.

On 21 mins. Mark Cartwright’s fine challenge halted the ominous progress of Tyrone Clarke as he bore down upon the home goal and shortly afterwards a smart interception by home skipper, Hesson, helped keep Team Dudley in check. In the 25th minute the visitors wasted an opportunity on goal when a free-kick near the home club’s corner flag resulted in Clarke heading well over the top Still showing bite at this stage, Team Dudley almost took the lead in the 28th minute, Chris Thomas quite superbly denying visiting skipper, James Hill from converting a close-range effort as an outswinging corner kick defied the home defence.

Tipton broke the strangle-hold to launch a telling response of their own but Connor Garrett’s volley at goal skewed well wide. On 32 mins.Kieran Smith’s cross into the visitor’s penalty area was bundled clear by Dan Hadley, leading to a sharp retort by his club before the move petered out after Callum Swain overhit his pass, spoiling a highly dangerous foray upon the home club’s goal. Shortly afterwards home skipper, Hesson was again brought down as he endeavoured to force an opening.

Another neat passage of play by the visitors thereafter put Tipton’s goal at threat but Tyrone Clarke’s drive curled away from it’s target. On 43 minutes, with Team Dudley pressing again it took a fine clearance by Alex Norris to reduce much of the sting carried by the attack, rendering the game still scoreless at the interval

Team Dudley opened the second half full of newly-found vigour, smart eye-catching play from Callum Swain, Ben Easthope and Alex Pinches forcing Tipton to defend deeply and vigorously. On 49 mins. Tipton’s Alex Norris was forced to receive lengthy attention when injured in helping his club make tracks forwards, seeking the visitor’s goal. Tipton were clearly playing with much more resolve and commitment now, soon earning a flag-kick from which Hesson saw visiting skipper, Hill, turn his effort on goal aside before the ball was finally hefted clear.

The home club were now making most of the running, no question, Mark Cartwright screwing a 55th minute header just outside the Dudley upright. On 65 mins. Tipton still forcing the game with Luke Johnson’s flag-kick coming so very near to defeating visiting keeper, Josh Rogers, the latter clearly in some difficulty in turning the ball aside for another flag-kick, this, however, of far lesser concern to the visitors.

With 71 mins. elapsed and the home club enjoying the lion’s share of the play, Hesson’s goalbolund volley was much too close for comfort for keeper, Rogers. Sam Armstrong was most unlucky not to give Tipton the lead in the 75th minute before Team Dudley won the ball again, a scything move completely opening up Tipton’s defence with Jack Bailey going so close to netting. On 78 mins. Lleyton Gould had the ball in the visitor’s net with a surging header, ruled marginally offside.As the clock wound inexorably down the visiting defence, dilly-dallying to try to preserve a point in fact conceded when sub., ANDREW DICKEN, a Tipton Town player in a far higher grade a few years ago smashed firmly home  1-0.

A narrow victory, hopefully, for the home club but alas !, a sting in the tail with JAMES FLETCHER equalising for Team Dudley in the  88th minute. A chastened Tipton Town, disbelieving of their ill-luck, dug deep for resolve and redemption, securing both with a winner virtually on full-time through the redoubtable DICKEN, a real fairy-tale ending but, most assuredly deserved too !.

John A.Cross

President, Tipton Town F.C.

Final League fixture       Saturday 20th April 2019

                                                                                                                    WMRL Divn.One   WORCESTER RAIDERS  ( Away)  3-00pm

                                                                            Sat. 11th May 2019  B-ham Saturday Vase Final  TIPTON TOWN v ENVILLE ATHLETIC

                                                                                                                                                           Kick-Off   2-00pm