AUDIO: Defiant Wisbech Town boss Appleby quizzed on reserves, friendlies and tactics at fans forum

WISBECH Town manager Steve Appleby was in defiant mood last night as the Fenmen faithful quizzed him on reserves, friendlies and tactics at the club’s fans forum.

Appleby joined club chairman Barry Carter and director Dick Creasey to answer a host of questions from fans at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium.

Once again the club’s online forum proved a major talking point, with fans criticising those who post opinions anonymously.

Appleby, who has voiced his own concerns about the online “mischief-makers”, said: “I agree with you totally. I was brought up thinking that if you’ve got something to say you look someone in the eye and say it.

“But, to be honest, it doesn’t bother me one iota. It doesn’t matter to me but my outburst was because it does matter to some of those who I’m sat with, the people who I work for and the people in this room that give up their free time and put money into the club.

“It was not about me it was about sticking up for people who actually do something and I don’t think people who hide behind names on the forum should criticise them.

The Wisbech boss added: “I’d sooner somebody just tap me on the shoulder on a Saturday and ask me something.

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“We’ve got good people here, we finished fourth in the league, we won the cup, we’ve got a good reserve team and everybody’s mucking in together. For me, it’s a rosy place but if you went on our forum you wouldn’t think that.”

Fans quizzed the panel on the progress of the reserves - with one supporter asking if talented forward Sam Murphy would be given a contract.

Appleby said both Murphy and fellow youngster Ollie Gale had been exceptional last season but described it as a “delicate situation”. He assured fans that their progress was being monitored.

One fan claimed that nine second-string players had left the club but Appleby backed reserves manager Darren Eady. “I’m sure he’ll have things in order,” he said. “We’re all a lot closer now as a group and I don’t see that as a problem to be honest.

“If players have gone you’ve got question their ambition really - if you’re going to a village side rather than playing for the reserves.”

The Wisbech boss also came under fire for his choice of pre-season friendlies, with supporters clamouring for a tie against a big name side.

Appleby said the fixtures he had arranged - which included Tuesday’s 3-2 defeat to rivals March - would be more beneficial.

“Basically I want them to get kicked,” he said. “I want them to play underdogs who raise their game, just to see what they’re made of.”

Wisbech’s new signings were discussed with Appleby praising the impact of talented defender Neal Spafford - describing him as “a proper man’s man”.

Club chairman Mr Carter claimed that Appleby’s side had no “natural leader” on the pitch but the manager defended his captain Scott Johnson.

He said: “Even though he’s a little lad he’s got presence and he commands respect from his players. When he speaks they listen. He’s always talking, it might not be a scream or a shout but he’s an organiser.

“Paul Cousins was captain here for years but he wasn’t a good talker in my eyes. He could shout and scream every now and again but it wasn’t constructive.

“Ryan Giggs captained Manchester United but I can’t see him bawling somebody out.”

Mr Carter was quizzed on whether the club intended to apply for promotion this season, with the deadline for applications on December 31.

Mr Carter said: “We can’t definitely apply until we see where we are. If we’re in the bottom three in the league then there’s no point in applying.

“We’ve got to be at least competitive in November to make it worthwhile applying - you also have to pay for that application.

“If we are in a position where we think we are going to be competing towards the top of the league - as I think we are - then we will apply.”

Concerns were also raised about the pitch, which was left waterlogged on several occasions last season. The panel admitted there were slight problems but told fans that it had really “come on” in the last fortnight.