Jake Morrison leads way as Wakefield AFC make winning start under new manager Gabriel Mozzini

Wakefield AFC bounced into 2022 with a new manager on board and their only New Year’s resolution to beat all before them.

By Tony Harber
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 3:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 4:11 pm
Jake Morrison celebrates scoring a goal for Wakefield AFC against Wombwell Main, with teammate Red Bates in the background. Picture: mm10_sports_photo
Jake Morrison celebrates scoring a goal for Wakefield AFC against Wombwell Main, with teammate Red Bates in the background. Picture: mm10_sports_photo

That has so far been the case with a 5-1 victory over Middleton FC in the cup last week followed by an impressive 3-0 victory in midweek over Wombwell Main on their return to Sheffield and Hallamshire County Senior League action, writes Austin Ainsworth.

Two goals from Jake Morrison and another from Mason Rubie in that last fixture saw Wakefield head into the weekend’s league game with Ecclesfield Red Rose bearing down on the top four.

That meant a positive result was key for new manager Gabriel Mozzini in Wakefield’s league quest and he got it as they won 2-0 with Morrison on target again to go with a goal from Cory Woodward.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

He named a similar side to that which was triumphant against Wombwell, with only Owen Kirman coming in for Harley Blankley on the wing. Aside from that, the only change to the team sheet was in player positions, as Josh Lockwood moved back into central defence and Bradley Swain went the other way out to full-back.

Wakefield may have gone in to the game with the reverse fixture – a 2-1 loss, perhaps Wakefield’s most disappointing game of the season so far – fresh in their mind. This may have contributed to a cagey start.

A Billy Mole half-chance which was volleyed wide and a Red Bates free-kick delivered straight down the Ecclesfield keeper’s throat were as close as anyone got to scoring in the opening quarter.

Ecclesfield had their own moments on the counter-attack and at one stage hearts were in mouths when Wakefield goalkeeper Henry Kendrick sprinted all of 40 yards out of his goal to sweep up one such attack. He just beat the attacker to the ball with a robust challenge and then impressively rose to his feet to execute another sliding tackle to stop a second attacker from winning the loose ball.

Wakefield should have taken the lead in the 15th minute through top scorer Morrison, as Kirman delivered a threatening ball across the face of goal, which somehow evaded the striker for the tap-in on the six-yard line.

The game threatened to go the same way as the reverse fixture, with Ecclesfield sitting so deep Wakefield needed an excavator to unearth a route to goal.

That prompted Mozzini into changes midway through the half as he dropped Mole from his usual attacking midfield position into a deep, playmaker role in the hope of opening up the resolute Red Rose defence.

The deadlock was finally broken just before half-time as Morrison added to his 10 league goals with a clinical finish.

That well-timed goal made the half-time atmosphere more positive among the 182 freezing fans. It did not, however, seem to have any real impact on the second half as chances remained at a premium for both sides.

Ecclesfield waited until the 76th minute for their best moment as their striker ran in behind the Wakefield backline from a cleared, long ball. A perfectly timed last-ditch tackle from Lockwood was enough to block the point-blank shot.

The game remained a tense affair until Woodward moved to secure the points with a well-taken goal in the 82nd minute.

The defender had found himself up-field for a Wakefield set-piece. The ball was initially cleared before it was worked back out to substitute Harley Blankley whose cross was chested down by Woodward before he finished expertly into the far corner.

The match was comfortable from then on with substitutes Blankley and Wilberforce Ocran having good chances to extend the score even further, denied only by good saves from the keeper. It mattered not as the win took Wakefield to just one point behind Ecclesfield, but with three games in hand.

Wakefield’s current league position is now fifth and they are closing in on the leading pack of Penistone, Swinton and Dodworth.

The next league fixture is away to Hepworth United on Saturday (2pm).