Wardens record fourth straight win over RS Sports to boost cup hopes
By James Smith
16th Jan 2023 | Football
Kenilworth Wardens notched their fourth consecutive win over RS Sports to move within touching distance of the Stan Oulds Cup final.
Having beaten Dunlop in their opening game, Wardens sat top of the league cup table going into their seventh meeting with RS in just 15 months.
RS Sports started the better of the two sides and had the first real chance five minutes into the game.
After a long ball was not cleared on the half way line, league top scorer Dave Buckley ran through on goal, only to be denied by an excellent last ditch tackle from Alex Waters, injuring Buckley in the process.
Wardens began to create chances, with Guy Pearson, Luca Valle, Ben Edmunds and Toby Wells all putting half chances over the bar.
The visitors came closest to taking the lead on 30 minutes when a Wells free kick came back off the post after Stan Moss was fouled just outside the box.
More last ditch tackles from Waters continued to thwart RS every time they got into a shooting position until Buckley shot from 25 yards just before the break, with his effort going just wide of the post.
With the game deadlocked at half time RS started the better in the second half with their good pressing mixed with Wardens sloppy passing meaning wardens were mostly camped in their own half.
RS deservedly took the lead on 65 minutes when a Steve Roberts cross from a free kick was over hit, heading for the top corner.
Keeper Andy Whitehouse managed to pull off a brilliant save but the ball fell to James Proctor who smartly squared the ball to the open Cyrus Small to tap into the open net.
Chasing an equaliser, Wardens brought on Dan Twigger and Adam Hnat off the bench.
On 70 minutes a good passing move started by captain Valle found player-manager Eamonn Richards, who passed to Twigger on the edge of the box.
Twigger's step over beat his man with his shot taking a deflection before ending in the back of the net - Richards' fifth assist of the year.
And just five minutes later Wardens struck again to take the lead - Valle again involved in the play, demanding the ball and playing a one-two with Richards.
Richards played the ball into Edmunds who rode his challenge and passed to Pearson. Pearson's powerful shot from 20 yards out was saved, but Hnat followed in for a tap-in - his first goal for the first team.
Wardens could have extended the lead with Twigger, Edmunds and Valle all going close. Wardens felt they should have had a penalty also when Twigger turned his man who handled the ball in the box, denying him a chance to shoot.
In the closing minutes the hosts pressed for an equaliser with the impressive Proctor shooting narrowly wide from 20 yards.
With two minutes left Proctor had another opportunity from the edge of the box, his deflected shot wrong-footed Andy Whitehouse, but the Wardens keeper managed to make a fingertip save before shifting his feet to claim the ball before the rebound was turned home.
"RS had their best team out today and have some really good footballers. If they had that team out each week they'd be closer to the top than the bottom of the league," Richards said after the game.
"On the ball today we weren't great. Too many touches, too many hero balls and too many lazy passes. However we turned it on for 15 minutes and got our goals.
"Saying that defensively we were excellent. We've only conceded three goals in five games, which at this level is unheard of. Castaway was brilliant as always. Waters put in so many tackles.
"But Willem French needs a special mention, as a 19-year-old playing his first game in men's football he was absolutely brilliant.
"I've been working on getting him to sign and play for months now and he's going to be massive for the rest of the season and hopefully for years to come. I know he will improve moving forward too."