A churned mid-season Worcester pitch dictated much of the play as Teddy Hall enjoyed another productive outing against title challenging opposition. In the absence of the totemic Adam Healy, Worcester’s long ball game got them nowhere and they threatened mainly from set-pieces, and even then sporadically. Hall were not their clear superiors, but built well on a burgled opening goal and sealed the win with a rare moment of attacking cogency.
Even fielding a weakened team, Worcester looked initially as if they would have enough to see off a typically committed opposition. They had the run of the midfield with their three Toms, the experienced duo of Phelan and Greene, and industrious fresher Chadwick, ensuring Hall struggled to establish a foothold in the middle of the park. As the game settled from an initial period of ping-pong tedium, the home side began to dominate; central striker Sam Poulsen had a shot turned behind, and from Liam Steward-George’s subsequent corner, Chadwick might have done better with a free header.
Hall captain Callum Grant was visibly frustrated with his side’s anonymous start; they too lacked a real presence up front, and left their most obvious target man, Nicolas Boehm, on the bench. In doubly unexpected turn of events, they then took the lead, Grant’s corner headed in by the smallest player on the pitch, James Hilton. The goal had no great impact on the flow of the game, as Worcester continued to look the likelier team. Still, they only looked dangerous from dead ball situations; Chadwick, the pick of the home midfield, buzzed in a few threatening long throws in quick succession, while Steward-George continued to cause problems from corners and free-kicks, keeping Tom Harrison busy in the Hall goal. On the stroke of half-time they created another clear chance from a corner, but Elliott Thomas headed over to frustrate the home support.
The second half began in frenzied style as both sides struggled to hold onto possession and the game’s tempo stepped up a notch. After a stern half-time talk from their captain, Hall looked more assured in midfield, with Nick Marsh becoming a more prominent presence. They also began to threaten consistently down the left side, with Fellows and Clark combining well. Marsh was the catalyst as Hall constructed the game’s sole outstanding move just short of the hour; his slide-rule through ball set Clark free on the left, and a perfectly couched cross was gleefully met by the head of Grant to double Hall’s lead. Worcester had introduced one of their Blues strikers, Niko de Walden, at half-time, but even with his contribution they did not look like pulling back a two-goal deficit. Chadwick’s driving runs through the middle epitomised Worcester’s spirit, but their lack of an attacking focus was painfully clear as de Walden’s flick-ons repeatedly fell to the opposition. All told it was a comfortable ride for Hall once they had opened up a two-goal advantage; with four points taken from their two games against Worcester and Mertsfield, we should perhaps now ask not whose title challenge they are spoiling, but instead whether they are beginning to mount one of their own.