Another good start by Whaley as they reverted to a 4:4:2 formation to combat Styal’s game plan to play one man upfront and everybody else behind the ball. It seemed to be working as Whaley maintained good possession but struggled to find the final ball to unlock the visitor’s dogged defence. However after a frustrating 20 minutes it was Tom Streets vision and through ball that found Joe Burgess, running from wide right Joe’s first touch took him past the keeper to tap in and give Whaley the lead.
Whaley were now finding good space behind Styal’s defence, Broome went very close from the edge of the box, Tom Scorer headed over from 2 yards & then minutes later broke away from his marker only to be thwarted by Davies, Lee Morris had two shots saved by Scott Davies, Joe Burgess hit the side netting when a simple ball square would have created a tap in for Whaley. All in all Whaley should have killed the game off with good opportunities as Styal were reduced to a couple of shots from the edge of the box from Williams which Tattersall dealt with easily.
As in the reverse fixture Styal are always a real threat from set plays, particularly Williams' long throw, and it was hardly surprising that after only ten minutes into the second half Kyle Woodward put Styal on level terms; Whaley’s man on the post failing to clear his downward header from a corner.
Whaley had to go looking for the winner to keep the pressure on at the top of the table but despite some good possession still found it difficult to concoct a finish; breaking on several occasions the home side outnumbered Styal’s defence but made some poor decisions or delayed the final pass. However, half way through the second half Whaley pushed again; a clever ball from Scorer into Jack Gregory’s path resulted in a penalty as the keeper tripped Jack as he lined up his shot. The keeper’s ‘ungentlemanly’ antics went unpunished and Sutton blasted to his left side for a Whaley winner. The home side shut up shop for the last 15 and relied on hitting Styal on the break, in reality Whaley should really have been in position to relax with a comfortable lead and not need to chase the game.
Styal are better than their league position shows a bit more belief and confidence they will start getting points.
J Tattersall M Ryan R Newton (c) T Streets J Broome J Burgess (1) J Gregory B Sutton (1) W Bailey L Morris T Scorer
J Bailey 35 J Drayson 60 H Boardman 80