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Boss reckons Walsall Wood can go all the way to Wembley in FA Vase

By Matt Maher | Grassroots | Published:

Delighted boss Gary Birch believes Walsall Wood can go all the way to Wembley in the FA Vase after Saturday’s 5-0 battering of Holbeach United.

Gary Birch, formerly boss at Hednesford, is enjoying a fine season at Walsall Wood

The Midland League Division One outfit made light work of their higher-ranked visitors to set up a third round trip to Stourport Swifts later this month.

Birch’s men will again be underdogs when they head to Worcestershire but the boss believes his team are a match for anyone.

That is also a view shared by the bookmakers, who have slashed the club’s odds to win the Vase to 20-1, down from 250-1 when the competition began.

“A few people put money on us when the odds were at their highest and they are starting to get quite excited now,” said Birch.

“I felt back at the start of the season we had a team which could go far in this competition and I still believe that.

“We don’t take anything for granted. Stourport is a pretty tough draw but our aim has always been to win this competition.”

Walsall Wood v Holbeach United

Holbeach play one level above the Wood in the United Counties League but simply had no answer as the hosts ran riot.

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Tony Clarke and Paul Sullivan, who netted twice from the penalty spot, both bagged braces, while new-boy Keenan Meakin-Richards also opened his account for the club.

“We’d done our homework on them and sent people to watch them but I’m not sure they had done the same for us,” said Birch.

“It was a another really strong performance. Confidence among the players is really high at the moment.”

While the Wood lived to fight another day, Sporting Khalsa are out after a 1-0 home defeat to Bromsgrove Sporting.

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Visiting keeper Reece Francis was the hero, saving a late Dave Meese penalty to ensure Sporting – who reached the semi-finals last season –advanced.

Khalsa, quarter-finalists themselves last term, were left to reflect on a number of near misses, most notably when striker Craig Bannister hit the bar with a free-kick just past the hour mark.

Jack Wilson scored the only goal of the game with 20 minutes remaining, finishing off a fine move when he headed home at the far post.

Marvin Nisbett went close to an instant leveller and was then brought down in the box to hand Khalsa a lifeline. But Francis guessed right to save Meese’s spot-kick.

Brocton also bowed out despite a brace effort against Shepshed Dynamo. The Badgers twice hit back thanks to a Paul McMahon brace to leave the score at 2-2 early in the second half. But the visitors eventually proved too strong, scoring three without reply before Shaan Stuart netted a late consolation.

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
Football MMPJ - @mjmarr_star

Sports journalist for the Express & Star

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