Wakefield AFC leave it late to home in on another three points

​Wakefield AFC finally returned to the comfort of home on Saturday and collected three points to maintain their promotion bid in the Toolstation NCE Division One.
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Worsbrough Bridge Athletic were the visitors to Belle Vue in Wakefield’s first home game since their 3-3 draw to Beverley at the beginning of February, writes Austin Ainsworth.

Two further draws followed away from home, before the Falcons returned to winning ways last weekend with a controlled, comfortable 3-0 win away to Athersley Recreation.

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Although the odds weighed heavily in favour of top of the league Wakefield making it two wins from two against 16th-placed Worsbrough Bridge, the Barnsley side came into the game unbeaten in 2024 and on a personal best run of three victories in a row.

Wakefield AFC celebrate going ahead with Jack Durkin's goal against Worsbrough Bridge. Picture: Scott MerryleesWakefield AFC celebrate going ahead with Jack Durkin's goal against Worsbrough Bridge. Picture: Scott Merrylees
Wakefield AFC celebrate going ahead with Jack Durkin's goal against Worsbrough Bridge. Picture: Scott Merrylees

With that in mind, and a recent history of Worsbrough making things more than difficult for Wakefield, things were set to be more challenging for Wakefield than the two sides’ respective league positions would suggest.

​And so it proved, as Worsbrough capitalised on a strong start to take the lead after just 13 minutes through Nathan Moss.

He was gifted the chance after Wakefield were too ambitious in passing the ball out from the back amid Worsbrough’s vigorous pressing; the high turnover leading to a pass in behind Wakefield’s defence for Moss to finish well, low past recent signing Ryan Musselwhite in the home goal.

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​Wakefield’s response was somewhat muted, their usual control of the ball and territory not in doubt, but chances coming few and far between.

Wakefield AFC's Oli Rodriguez takes on a Worsbrough Bridge defender. Picture Scott MerryleesWakefield AFC's Oli Rodriguez takes on a Worsbrough Bridge defender. Picture Scott Merrylees
Wakefield AFC's Oli Rodriguez takes on a Worsbrough Bridge defender. Picture Scott Merrylees

The closest they came was through striker Ben Gelder, who missed out on his ninth goal of the season when he screwed his shot just wide of the post, after the opening presented itself to him inside the box.

Jaydan Sandhu also struck an exquisite half-volley from the edge of the box that swerved and dipped menacingly, but glanced just wide of the crossbar.

​It was Worsbrough who actually came closest to another goal, with one shot from inside the box that was a whisker away from goal then another effort going even closer when a free header inside the box rattled the crossbar.

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Wakefield AFC show title credentials in key week in NCE League
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With greater impetus required, Wakefield manager Gabe Mozzini made changes at half-time with Oliver Rodriguez entering the action, while Sebastian Losa – making his first start since his return from injury – moved further forward to allow for the introduction of Cameron Barnett.

The changes worked, with Rodriguez a threat throughout the half and Barnett bringing things level in the 67th minute with a deserved, if not scrappy goal.

He rose highest in the box to meet Sandhu’s pinpoint corner-kick, with the ball eventually worming its way through a forest of players’ legs to give the substitute his seventh goal of the season.

If Wakefield and the increasingly anxious home crowd of 523 spectators were made to wait for the equaliser, they had to wait even longer for a winner, with the game still 1-1 as the final five minutes ensued.

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And, just as though it appeared another draw may have been on the cards for Wakefield, up stepped captain Jack Durkin to meet Sandhu’s free-kick with a towering header in the box.

It was a goal that was an impressive fifth strike for the defender this year and one that also marked a staggering 22 assists for Sandhu this season.

Wakefield were not finished there as the points were secured moments later when Losa scored for the second game in succession, bundling the ball in on the line after Rodriguez’s initial header from new signing Josh Lindley’s cross bounced down off the crossbar.

The hard earned three points ensured Wakefield ended the day still top the league, one point clear of Beverley Town.

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They have played more games than all their promotion rivals – seven more than Parkgate who are three points behind and remain title favourites.

Wakefield will turn their attention momentarily away from the NCE League when they return to West Riding County Cup action tonight (Tuesday) in the quarter-finals away to Tadcaster Albion, kick-off 7.45pm.

Wakefield are also on their travels this Saturday when away to bottom of the table Ollerton Town who only have four points this season and lost 11-0 at Wakefield back in October.

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