Walsall Wood 1-1 Hednesford Town

Rob Smith’s side kicked off their pre-season campaign with a typically tough fixture against a Walsall Wood side that have been a continual thorn in their side over the years.

The first team-sheet of the summer bore no resemblance to the one that ended last season, with 14 new faces having arrived at Keys Park over the course of the last two months.

Nine of these started the game against Wood, with a further two more on the bench along with two trialists, as Smith continued to take a look at a couple more players.

The opening game of pre-season started in a somewhat slow fashion and after a couple of half-chances for both sides it was the hosts who took the lead in the 18th minute. Lewis Taylor-Boyce saw his cross take a deflection to make it loop up and over Dave Parton, then strike the back post before finding the net.

As the new faces in the Town team continued to try and gel, it was striker Kyle Perry who went closest to an equaliser as his low effort trickled wide of the post from 15 yards after taking a deflection.

The introduction of Ahmed Obeng, Tom France and Stan Mugisha through the early stages of the second half really started to make a difference as they caused the Wood defence problems every time they went forward.

Although Obeng was forced off with a cut to his leg, following Luke Benbow down the tunnel after he went off at half-time, the Pitmen continued to press forward.

An equaliser would eventually arrive and after 68 minutes Mugisha saw his shot saved, only for defender Curtis Tilt to turn the ball home from inside the six-yard box after it was spilled by the home goalkeeper.

With 15 minutes remaining, Wood were reduced to ten men when their second-half captain Harry Harris was dismissed for foul and abusive language towards the referee.

Despite the numerical advantage, Hednesford were unable to make a breakthrough as both sides settled for a draw in the opening pre-season game for the Pitmen.

Walsall Wood: Kisiel, Deakin, Hayles, O’Garra, Wright, Black, Taylor-Boyce, Juxon, Taylor, Aiton, Currithers

Subs: Adams, Davies, Roberts, Harris, Butlin, Mellia, Guy, Price

Hednesford Town: Parton, Kiembi, Disney, Bailey, Tilt, Sanders, Ennis, Craddock, Perry, Benbow, Trainer

Subs: Mugisha, Obeng, France

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