Brownsfield Road or The Trade Tyre Community Stadium as it is now known, has been on my list to visit for some time now. In fact, twice in the past I have been on my way and then had to postpone, first time when the game got called off (back in the grass pitch days) and secondly when I set out and then discovered that the M40 was closed and I had no way of getting there in time. The ground is situated on the North-Eastern perimeter of Lichfield. The car park is not huge but there is parking available along Brownsfield Road. Entrance is through a turnstile located in the corner of the ground which brings you in alongside the newly refurbished club house. There are three stands around the ground. Two are on the Brownsfield Road side, one at each end of the ground, with the third at the clubhouse end on the opposite side of the goal. On the far side there is a media tower and the two dugouts. There is also a grass bank behind the walkway on this side of the pitch which gives good view of the playing area. There is also a raised walkway on the Brownsfield Road side giving a two tiered view.
Studley are back in the Midland League structure after a very successful season in the Hellenic Division 1 in which they took the title by five points from Worcester Raiders, earning themselves a shot at Step 5 and a return to the Midland League. This season is the second in succession at Step 5 for City. Last season they finished in a very creditable third spot and were joint top scorers along with champions Hanley Town.
The season has started fairly well for both clubs. At the start of play Studley just held sway, sitting one place (6th) and one point above City. However, recent form was a completely different matter. Studley had taken 13 points from the last 18 available only losing to leaders Walsall Wood in this period. In the same period, Lichfield had only managed to take 2 points, losing four of their last six since beating RC Warwick on October 1st. The last full season that the sides played in the same division was 2018-19, when both were in Division One of the Midland League. Lichfield finished in fourth spot whilst Studley were in ninth, some 23 points behind. Honours were even on the pitch with both games ending in 2-1 victories for the home side.
Right from kick-off Lichfield looked far from a team looking for a first win in six. They knocked the ball around with the confidence of a side who were used to winning and, after a couple of minutes where the teams sounded each other out, began to push Studley back and keep them penned in the own half. It's fair to say that they were being aided by Studley looking a good yard or two of the pace all across the pitch. With the amount of possession they had, it was only a matter of time before Lichfield broke the deadlock and this they did on 17 minutes. Jack Edwards cut in from the left and tried his luck with a low shot from the edge of the box. Luke Keen's movement across the box allowed him to get a tow to the ball, completely wrong-footing Bunn. 1-0
Six minutes later the roles were reversed when Keen did well to win and control a long ball up the middle. The Studley bench were not happy that he won the ball when outnumbered, but that was the way the game was going. Keen poked the ball out wide to Jack Edwards on the left. This time, instead of cutting inside he was able to jink past his defender on his left and fire in a low shot which beat Bunn. 2-0.
There was no stopping the Lichfield juggernaut at this point and it only took them five more minutes to increase their lead, and what a superb goal it was in all respects. Edwards was involved again, getting the ball out on the left before delivering an inch-perfect cross-field ball to the feet of Luke Childs on the right-flank. Childs turned his defender one way then the other, progressing to the edge of the box. He exchanged a deft one-two with Keen before making just enough room to curl a superb effort around Bunn and in off the far post. 3-0. Top class football from start to finish. I was checking the programme at this point. Surely this team had not lost four of the last six? How?
Just past the half hour mark Studley captain and goalkeeper Brendon Bunn was again called into action. First he was down well to stop a Dan Lomas effort and then quick enough back into position to thwart Luke Keen. With ten minutes to go before half-time it felt as if there could be more goals before the break. Credit to Studley, however, as they managed to rally after making some positional changes aimed at holding back the blue tide. Studley also had long throws in the arsenal which they used whenever possible. Launching the ball into the Lichfield area a few times did cause some mild concern but aside from a header that went just over and a shot that flew wide, James Beeson was having a quiet night between the Lichfield sticks.
HT Lichfield City 3 Studley 0. A dominant first half from City who played some superb football, running their opponents ragged at times. The Bees would have to come up with something very special if they wanted to get back into this one.
Two minutes past the hour mark, however, Studley struck out of the blue. The ball was worked down the left before being fed to Ben Walsh out wide of the penalty area. He cut inside before absolutely leathering a shot past Beeson that I don't think the keeper even saw. Great strike. 3-1 Could it be game on? Lichfield had definitely dropped the intensity in the second period and, at this point, if Studley had managed to get a second we could have been in for a grandstand finish. However, in all honesty, the visitors never really looked like they could stage a comeback.
On 82 minutes Lichfield hammered the final nail into the Studley coffin. Fitzgerald found Childs with another superb cross-field ball. Childs beat his man on the outside, getting to the touchline before cutting the ball back into the perfectly timed run of Edwards who had the simple task of tapping it in. 4-1.
FT Lichfield City 4 Studley 1. City couldn't retain the intensity of their first half performance which was probably just as well for Studley. The visitors, to their credit, did hold their own more in the second half but the damage had already been done. A superb way for Lichfield to end their barren run. They played some superb football at times, as one of the city's most famous sons once wrote "It is reasonable to have perfection in our eye that we may always advance toward it, though we know it can never be reached."
Lichfield are at home again on Saturday as 16th placed Stone Old Alleynians pay a visit. Studley will want to get back to winning ways but face what is always a stern test as they travel to mid-table Atherstone Town.
Lichfield City: Beeson, Hurdman, Haines(c), Elkes, Burnside, Lomas, Edwards, James, Keen, Fitzgerald, Childs. Subs: Muckley, Dixon, Walton, Dunn, Patterson
Studley: Bunn(c), Loveridge, Donnelly, Bojang, Hawkins, Welsh, Withington, Woolley, Carter, Jackson, Beeson. Subs: Dale Edwards, Dave Edwards, Fitter, Smith
Ground Number: 333