Depleted Wingmakers miss chance to go joint top with 2-2 draw against Rhyl
This re-arranged clash against recently promoted Rhyl was an opportunity for the Wingmakers to draw level with TNS at the top of the table.
With a squad still decimated by injury and suspension, and Rhyl featuring no less than four ex-Wingmakers in their line-up, it would be a huge challenge.
The game started at a good tempo and after eight minutes the Wingmakers had the upper-hand. Ryan Wade was tripped in the area by Liam Benson and Tom Field stepped up to take the resultant penalty. He sent Rhyl goalkeeper Alex Ramsay the wrong way with a low shot to his right to put Airbus 1-0 up.
After going behind, Rhyl looked to get back level as soon as possible and this opened the game up, with both teams intent on getting the next goal. A Ryan Astles header was well-held by Airbus goalkeeper James Coates but chances were at a premium as both defences did their jobs well.
Former Wingmaker Matty Woodward picked up the first yellow card of the game, for a foul on Chris Budrys after 35 minutes.
Just before half-time a heavy challenge left Lewis Short in need of treatment, but play was allowed to continue. Rhyl countered and while James Coates did brilliantly to parry former Wingmaker Jon Bathurst’s shot, Tom Roberts was on hand to drill home the loose ball to equalise.
It was 1-1 at the break with either team capable of going on to win it. The Wingmakers made a chance during the interval with Ritchie Partridge coming on in place of Mike Roddy. On 49 minutes Tom Field was booked for hand-ball, before Ramsay was out quickly to foil Steve Abbott from a Ritchie Partridge through-ball.
On 53 minutes Bathurst found himself in on goal from a long ball over the top, but he could only drag his shot wide – a slight let-off for the Wingmakers. Minutes later though, Airbus were back in front. Ryan Wade did well to beat his full-back and before cutting the ball back for Steve Abbott, who lifted a shot into the far corner to make it 2-1.
With 25 minutes to go Rhyl made their first change with Steve Lewis replacing yet another former Wingmaker, Mark Cadwallader. The visitors were making the Wingmakers work hard to keep their lead as the game ebbed and flowed.
After a spell of Airbus possession with quarter of an hour to go Tom Field tried a speculative effort from distance which was held by Ramsay. The visitors made a double change with 10 minutes to go, Jon Bathurst being replaced by David Forbes and Jason Oswell being replaced by Danny Laverty.
With only 7 minutes to go a cross from Tom Roberts struck the arm of Wingmakers skipper Ian Kearney and a penalty was awarded to the visitors. Kearney was harshly booked, while Steve Lewis stepped up to take the spot-kick. It was saved by Coates but David Forbes pounced on the rebound to equalise for Rhyl and pull it back to 2-2.
Steve Lewis had made a difference for Rhyl since coming on, using skill and physical presence to work his way into the area and test Coates with five minutes to go. Into stoppage-time an injury to Ryan Wade saw him come off to be replaced by Aaron Hassall.
Both teams gave everything in the last couple of minutes but neither could find a winner. A point apiece was fair on the night, and with the Wingmakers down to the bare bones, it was a good result.
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