Flanz’s rocket rescues point for uninspiring Wisbech Town

Ridgeons Premier Division: Wisbech Town 1 Felixstowe & Walton United 1

A MAGNIFICENT strike from Simon Flanz rescued a point for Wisbech Town after an uninspiring display against Felixstowe and Walton United today.

The full back’s 20-yard rocket whistled into the back of the Felixstowe net on the hour mark to cancel out Matt McKenzie’s cool first-half finish.

But it was a lacklustre performance from the Fenmen, who failed to show any of the form which has seen them win all of their last four games.

Manager Steve Appleby said: “That’s probably one of the most frustrating performances I’ve seen all season.

“We’ve just not performed from the first minute to the last. It seems like it’s at home again, that’s the frustrating thing. We’ve got the support and it’s fantastic the number of people that turn up - but at times you can hear a pin drop.

“There were only a couple of times today when any of our players did anything to get the supporters going. If we want to go places and keep climbing higher then we have to pick up results at home.

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“We’ve not played much football at all. Obviously you have to make some allowance for the conditions and the heat but it was the same for them - and they handled it better than we did.

“We haven’t lost but it feels like one.”

In the early stages it looked like it might be a good day for Appleby’s troops, as Wisbech raced out of the blocks in front of a crowd of 250 at the Tom Wood’s Beer Fenland Stadium.

Callum Reed - brimming with confidence after scoring five goals in his last two games - had an electric first ten minutes, winning corners and causing chaos amongst the visitors’ back line.

The talented wideman curled a free kick over before his teasing driven cross was hoofed clear as it crept towards Andy Furnell.

Wisbech almost took the lead in the 10th minute when Reed’s corner was poked towards goal by Ash Stevens only for it to be cleared off the line.

Anthony Reeve’s deflected follow-up looped onto the bar to leave the Fenmen with nothing to show for their early domination.

Felixstowe, who hardly had a kick in the first 20 minutes, gradually began to find a foothold in the game.

Rhys Henry curled a tame effort straight at Lea Jordan before a horrible mix-up between Jon Fairweather and Jordan almost cost the Fenmen dear. Both failed to deal with a hopeful ball over the top and only Jordan’s outstretched leg prevented Felixstowe taking a lead which they barely deserved.

Wisbech continued to press but were restricted to half chances and long-range efforts. Lewis Thompson and Reed both fired speculative 30-yard efforts over the bar before stand-in skipper Furnell skewed his own ambitious strike wide.

The visitors’ main threat was coming from the lively Henry and it was he who brought a fine save out of Jordan after half an hour, playing a neat one-two with McKenzie to manoeuvre room to shoot.

Wisbech’s growing frustration soon got the better of them. Lazy defending from the Fenmen saw McKenzie beat the offside trap and the pacy striker rattled home a smart finish into the corner of Jordan’s net.

Buoyed by taking the advantage, it was the visitors who finished the first half stronger and Appleby will have been glad to hear the half time whistle.

The Wisbech boss was forced to substitute Stacy Cartwright - who picked up a knock after 20 minutes - bringing on talented prospect Olly Gale at left back for the second half.

Appleby’s words at the break appeared to make a difference for the Fenmen. Reed smashed a shot against the post after a neat exchange with Furnell and Adam Weston and although Stevens fired home the rebound, the striker was stood offside and the goal was ruled out.

There were more warnings on the counter attack for Wisbech with Jordan alert to deny speedy forward Adam Hampson, clawing his shot just wide of the post.

But just as it was looking like the Fenmen were running out of ideas, the experienced Flanz slammed home a much-needed equaliser.

The full back capitalised on a good lay-off from Stevens to smash a ferocious shot past Felixstowe ‘keeper Liam Jones and drag his side level.

For a moment it seemed Flanz might have inspired Wisbech, with Furnell heading against the bar and Thompson volleying over as the home side poured forward.

But, again, the Fenmen ran out of steam and only a series of saves from the inspired Jordan prevented Felixstowe from stealing all three points.

The reliable ‘keeper scrambled down to save Henry’s drive before rushing from his line to thwart the striker again.

At the other end, Darren Jimson’s well-executed half volley was magnificently saved by Jones as both goalkeepers showcased their ability.

Neither side looked content with a point and Felixstowe had a golden chance to win it in the dying seconds. Henry sealed a frustrating personal performance by hitting his shot straight at Jordan, when it looked as though he was sure to score.

Appleby admitted his side were probably lucky to finish with a draw against Felixstowe, who at the start of the day sat in 17th position in the Ridgeons Premier Division.

He said: “For the last 10 minutes we should have been throwing the kitchen sink at their ‘keeper but if anything it was them that could have won it.

“We started well enough but there wasn’t any end product. I think we got frustrated and started going longer, then we stopped playing football. We were loads better in the second half but still not enough.

“It has become quite apparent between myself and Chris Dear that we’ve got some fantastic footballers at the club and we can pass teams to death but have we actually got somebody whose prepared to kick people and upset them?

“Someone who will get in people’s faces and drive teams on when it’s not going their way. That was apparent today, we needed somebody out there who could literally drag the team up.”

Tuesday night sees Wisbech host table-topping Leiston, who have not lost in the league since the Fenmen beat them 3-1 in August.

“I have no doubts at all that we will turn up and have a right go at them,” said Appleby. “We’ll be at the races and wanting it, we’ll be all over the pitch.”

The Fenmen have six league fixtures left before they take on Wroxham in the Ridgeons League Cup Final on May 2 - gunning for their first silverware in 16 years.

Appleby added: “That final should motivate the players but I’ve been left in doubt today. Not one of them has even stamped their place for Tuesday night let alone the cup final.”

Wisbech Town: Jordan, Flanz, Cartwright (Gale, 45), Fairweather, Reeve, Reed, Jones, Thompson, Furnell (Murphy, 85), Stevens (D Jimson, 72), Weston.

Man of the match: Lea Jordan - Seldom puts in a below-par performance in a Wisbech shirt and the reliable shot-stopper was in fantastic form again today. He denied Felixstowe time and time again with a string of saves and his effort was a major factor in earning the Fenmen a hard-fought point.