Mason Rubie sends Wakefield AFC on way back to top of the table

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​Wakefield AFC faced the last of three successive away fixtures in the NCE Division One on Saturday, but had a short trip to Glasshoughton Welfare for a local derby with the league’s 19th placed side.

With just one win and one draw from their last 10 games, Welfare came into the game on the back of a miserable run, while Wakefield appeared to have found their form again in recent weeks, and, with Parkgate having the day off, had the chance to go back to the top of the league table with a victory. They took that chance with a 2-0 success, writes Austin Ainsworth.

Manager Gabe Mozzini stuck with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation, with Joel Spence coming in for the injured Nathan Hawkhead at the base of midfield. George Bristol also replaced Henry Kendrick in goal, while Aaron Pilkington returned to the side at right-back.

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Welfare belied their lowly league position with a strong start, half-chances being shared between the sides in an opening 10 minutes in which the home side imposed themselves physically on the game despite, unsurprisingly, giving up much of the possession to Wakefield.

Wakefield AFC's Joel Spence drives forward. Picture: Rob HareWakefield AFC's Joel Spence drives forward. Picture: Rob Hare
Wakefield AFC's Joel Spence drives forward. Picture: Rob Hare

Wakefield initially struggled to craft clear-cut chances with that possession and, after the largely to-and-fro first 10 minutes, it was Glasshoughton who had two big chances to take the lead.

Wakefield had been struggling to get to grips with the home side’s battering ram of a centre-forward, Joe Rawcliffe, and he excellently made a nuisance of himself in the box when he managed to nod a throw-in on to Thomas Palmer. The winger then turned and shot towards goal but his strike, executed while off balance, was calmly thwarted by Bristol.

Moments later, Bristol was forced into making an even better save at his near post, after captain Jack Durkin was robbed of the ball on the edge of his own box.

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Goals change games and, after avoiding that dangerous early setback against a confident and committed looking home side, Wakefield knocked the wind out of Glasshoughton’s sails later through top scorer Mason Rubie, who claimed his 14th goal of the campaign.

The Wakefield AFC team before kick-off. Picture: Rob HareThe Wakefield AFC team before kick-off. Picture: Rob Hare
The Wakefield AFC team before kick-off. Picture: Rob Hare

Jordan Helliwell initially did well to hold possession from Callum Charlton’s throw-in on the left wing, before opening up space for himself to deliver a good cross from deep towards Rubie at the near post. The winger, tightly marked and with his back to goal, showed guile to test the keeper with a smart, back-heeled shot, before calmly turning to tap the rebound into the back of the net.

Ten minutes later Helliwell, in the midst of probably his best performance since joining the club, was at the heart of the action again, when he and Jaydan Sandhu combined to play themselves out of a tight hole, before Helliwell’s inch-perfect, reverse pass on the edge of the box played striker Ben Gelder in on goal.

Gelder still had work to do, but controlled the ball well to evade the Glasshoughton defence then finished with aplomb low, to the right of the stretching goalkeeper.

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The two goals were more than enough to take most of the fight out of Welfare’s performance before half-time, although the over-exuberance of the home side’s off-the-ball tactics still lingered throughout a largely uneventful second half; the most memorable moment of which was an inevitable red card for Glasshoughton’s captain, after a late lunge from behind on Sandhu.

The Glasshoughton Welfare line-up. Picture: Rob HareThe Glasshoughton Welfare line-up. Picture: Rob Hare
The Glasshoughton Welfare line-up. Picture: Rob Hare

Despite their numerical advantage in the closing stages of the match, Wakefield, having kept the home side at arm’s length with a performance of metronomic passing, never really threatened to add a third goal.

Even if the goals did not flow as they had done in Wakefield’s previous two matches, they will be more than happy with three wins from three games, all played on difficult pitches away from home but still with an impressive aggregate score of 11-0.

Wakefield now move back to the league’s summit, albeit having played five games more than Parkgate, who drop to second. With the two sides’ first meeting this season now on the horizon, before then Wakefield will first get the chance to at least embolden their hopes of a play-off finish when hosting third-placed Beverley Town tonight (Tuesday); a win in that game important given Beverley sit just two points below Wakefield as well as having games in hand.

The fixture will also be Wakefield’s first in front of the Be Well Support Stadium’s newly completed east stand, making a positive performance all the more important in order to mark the occasion.

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