Woody stands strong for a great Gornal result

Shifnal 3 Gornal Athletic 4 (AET, FT score 3-3)

Full back Pete Wood, who turned goalie to help Gornal take the match

Full back Pete Wood was the hero amongst heroes as he donned the goalkeeper’s jersey, saved a penalty and helped 10-man Gornal into the next round of the FA Cup in a classic Extra Preliminary Round replay.
Wood went between the sticks on 76 minutes when James Pemberton
was perhaps harshly dismissed following a collision with Shifnal forward Chris Henry with the score 2-1 to the visitors.
Wood’s first action was to acrobatically save Stuart Corn’s penalty and deny the home side an equaliser.
It was Gornal who had struck first on 11 minutes when Lee Wherton
lifted the ball over his marker’s head 25 yards out, set himself up and spectacularly volleyed past keeper Dominic Smith from the edge of the area.
Gornal dominated the first half and Calum Martin was unfortunate on
two occasions on 19 and 34 minutes and Dave Meese stung the keeper’s
hands with a freekick just before half-time.
The second half saw the visitors continue where they left off with a
Richard Young shot on 52 minutes parried by Smith just two minutes
before Matt Martin’s free kick whistled just wide.
A rare opening for Shifnal saw Ashley Burd rampage down the right-hand
side and put a shot just wide of the post.
Gornal doubled their lead on the hour when a free kick by Young was
cleverly curled around the Shifnal wall and into the bottom right hand
corner of the net.
Substitute Gareth Horler pulled one back on 63 minutes with an excellent
looping header over Pemberton to make it 2-1.
But nothing could prepare for what was to follow.
First, Pemberton was dismissed, setting up Wood’s heroic save on 72
minutes.
Then a sustained spell of pressure from Shifnal in a bid to capitalise on
their numerical advantage saw efforts by Adamczyk and Ryan go close.
Eventually the bombardment paid off when, on 87 minutes, Patrick Ellis
snatched an equaliser.
But, on 89 minutes, a handball in the Shifnal area was penalised and Dave
Meese stepped up to thump home to give Gornal a 3-2 lead.
Deep into injury time, a Lee Wherton foul led to a THIRD penalty of
the game and this time Stuart Corns took over penalty taking duties to
squeeze home, despite stand-in custodian Wood bravely getting a hand to
the ball.
Extra time saw Gornal make a mockery of the man disadvantage and
continue to take the game to Shifnal.
On 100 minutes a cross by Young was cleared to the edge of the area
where it met the right foot of Meese who drilled the ball through a
crowded penalty area to give Gornal the lead yet again.
From there on in, it was all hands to deck, as Shifnal sought to find their
way back into the tie.

But despite their best efforts, the organised ranks of the 10-men visitors, marshaled by the stand-in keeper, stood resolute and clung on to give Gornal safe passage to a Preliminary Round tie at Southern League Division One Central side Rugby Town a week on
Saturday.

Players:

Shifnal: Dominic Smith; Adam Smith (Andy Thompson, 73); Ashley Burd;
Mike Sheriden (Mark Adamkzyk, 104); Patrick Ellis; George Williams
(Captain); Rhys Adams (Gareth Horler, 45); Stuart Corns; Chris Henry;
Craig Ryan; Tom Griffin.
Gornal: James Pemberton; Richard Young; Pete Wood; John Hill; Chris
Waterhouse; Lee Wherton; Dave Meese; Matt Martin (Kristian Green, 82);
Cameron Morgan (Jake Morgan, 74); Calum Martin; Marvin Nisbett (Robin
Keates, 89).

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Gornal AFC are pitching for greatness

The Gornal AFC squad - playing for the love of football

Since November 1950, fans of this renowned local football team have enjoyed action-filled matches, played not for money, but out of love for ‘the beautiful game’.

It’s a feeling of excitement and a sense of passion many fans find lacking in top league matches. And, for Gornal Athletic Football Club’s new chairman Mat Danks, it’s the reason he returned to the team’s Garden Walk ground after an absence of several years.

“When I was a reporter for the Dudley News, I’d regularly attend matches to report on Gornal AFC,” he explains, “but, after leaving the newspaper to run my PR company, I tended to go and see bigger teams such as West Brom instead.

“However,” he continues, “I eventually fell out of love with top league football. Because of all the money involved, going to see a match has become a bit like going to the cinema – people’s expectations are much higher and they demand to be entertained.”

So, disillusioned with big name matches, Mat decided to go and take another look at his local team, Gornal AFC. And, it was a decision that led to some surprising developments.

Gornal AFC's new chairman, Mat Danks

“I began getting involved with the club and, before I knew it, was asked if I’d like to become chairman,” he explains. “They’d already got a great set of people and a fantastic manager, former Gornal striker Ian Rowe. I think they just needed someone with a business brain to build on this already excellent team.”

It’s a partnership that certainly seems to be paying off – this Saturday sees Gornal play Shifnal Town FC in the FA Cup preliminary round.

“We’ve got exceptional players and a strong squad,” says Mat. “Only one team goes up and we want to be that team.”

Saturday’s match promises to be a thrilling one but, according to Mat, fans can always expect plenty of action at any Gornal game.

He says: “You’re watching blokes who play for the love of the game. Although local, non-league clubs don’t enjoy the financial rewards of bigger teams, that doesn’t mean the excitement on the pitch is any less. In fact, very rarely will you see as much action as during one of our matches.”

Mat’s enthusiasm is infectious – something borne out by the way Gornal AFC is now attracting more and more fans through the club’s active use of social networking site Twitter.

“Social media is really helping us build bridges with teams all over the country,” he explains. “Using Twitter, we’ve developed links with Glaswegian Saturday morning side Tally Vic, for example. It’s opening doors and helping us connect with many new fans.”

And among Gornal’s ever-growing legion of supporters are the lads from Sedgley indie rock band, The Lines, who can also count Mat as one of their biggest fans.

He says: “I’ve seen them play about 50 times, all over the UK and abroad. They’re a superb band, a top bunch of lads and it’s great to know they support our team.”

Join the ranks of Gornal AFC’s many supporters for the all-important FA Cup match this Saturday, August 20. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Visit the club’s website for more information.