Lye Town 9, Dudley Town 2
ONE year on from the cruel blow of losing the title on the last day of the season at Wolverhampton Casuals, Lye won when it mattered and did so in the most emphatic manner possible, writes Max Hall.
Lye's dominance in the league for the past two seasons has been down chiefly to a tidal wave of goals from the likes of the peerless Ricky Anslow and Steve Weaver so it was fitting that Anslow fired two of the three first-half goals that set Lye on the way to their nine-goal celebration romp, adding a further brace in the second half for good measure.
The win bags Lye a league and cup double this campaign.
"It ay over yet," warned Lye joint manager Martin Thomas, as the teams came out for the second half, but it was six minutes later as Anslow struck again, racing on to a Weaver ball over the top that took out three defenders and left him only the horribly exposed Dudley keeper Luke Morton to beat. That made it four in the 48th minute and three minutes later left-back Matt Johnson sparked the celebrations by rolling in the fifth from the edge of the area.
After Anslow completed his hat-trick with another trademark rampaging run down the left in the 58th minute, Dudley claimed a consolation on 70 minutes when Stephen Lodge missed a defensive header and Sean Devonport scored from close range.
That goal came after Thomas and co-boss Darren Goodall had made a triple substitution to let some of the subs get in on the action. If the goal did little to dampen spirits, a second Dudley strike, a header from the same player two minutes later, did stir some doubts with Lye's defence in disarray.
But the reprieve was brief for a callow Dudley side who had done well not to collapse from their lofty position in the league after the mass desertion of players to Gornal in the wake of former manager Andy Wyton.
Although Lye twice faltered in the closing weeks of the season, the goal never stopped flowing - when the prolific Anslow was enticed away to Chasetown, Thomas and Goodall unearthed big target man James Spray and he started scoring to give the managers a pleasant headache when Anslow returned to the fold two weeks later.
And it was Spray who settled any nerves in the 75th minute when he buried an unstoppable effort - his second of the game - past Morton after running on to a Stephen Lodge ball and barging Robert Whitley off the ball.
It only remained for Weaver to score a delightful eighth nine minutes from time that flew past the diving keeper before Anslow hit his fourth, two minutes later, again tucking the ball coolly home after a barely perceptible shimmy wrong-footed Morton.
It was a sumptuous, goal-laden parade to the double, part of an historic double for the 84-year-old club after a start to the game that had seen Dudley match their opponents for only the first ten minutes.
It was Anslow who had started the ball rolling in the 17th minute when he was sent through in his favourite arrowing run on goal, cutting in from the left, by a simple ball from telepathic strike partner Weaver and delaying before firing past Morton.
When Spray added a second within a minute - again from a Weaver pass and via a near post deflection off Dudley's Alex Perry - the visitors visibly shrank and a crowd of over 350 sensed something special was about to unfold.
No-one except right-back Scott Moore will know whether his 35th-minute strike was an overhit cross or a brilliant Hagi-esque lob from wide on the right but when it sailed over Morton's head, Lye were well on their way into the history books.