NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Brett Whaley begins second spell at Wisbech Town with defeat to Carlton Town
PUBLISHED: 20:39 08 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:33 10 February 2020
Brett Whaley's second spell in charge of Wisbech Town began with a narrow home defeat, despite playing most of the second half against 10 men.
The Fenmen lost 1-0 to play-off chasers Carlton Town in the Northern Premier League South East Division on Saturday, thanks to Martin Ball's header on 68 minutes.
Whaley included five new additions in his first squad since replacing Kevin Ward on Tuesday (February 4).
Goalkeeper Josh Allen alongside the returning trio of Matt Sparrow, Beckham Kennelly and Stacy Cartwright all featured, with fellow 'keeper James Connell on the bench.
Winger Sam Murphy was also due to return, but his move from Deeping Rangers was not finalised in time for the match.
The former March boss was in fine voice throughout, offering words of encouragement for a Wisbech side that seeked their first league win since Boxing Day.
There was a newfound belief among the home side, Ollie Gale's determined run and shot blocked by the feet of Carlton goalkeeper Jack Steggles in an early tester.
The Millers rarely threatened before the break and were lucky to remain level against a resurgent Wisbech team.
Headers from Kennelly and striker Nathan Rudman either missed the target or denied by a smart save, in a half that the hosts largely dominated.
What was a clean affair then turned feisty after Jack Keeble and Carlton's Daniel Fletcher were involved in a physical altercation, Fletcher unleashing a blow to the Wisbech midfielder's face.
Both received bookings from referee Joshua Crofts, before Oliver Clarke was dismissed for two bookable offences after needlessly fouling Keeble on 55 minutes.
This surprisingly spurred the visitors into life, pegging Wisbech further into their half before Ball peeled away from his man to head home a Niall Davie set-piece.
Allen was on hand to stop substitute Aaron Opoku's near post strike from finding the corner, as Carlton came forward with intent.
Sparrow then saw his late efforts fail to trouble Steggles, which were the only real threats Whaley's men provided after the interval.
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A touch of quality in the final third proved dividends in the end, but there are certainly reasons why Whaley and company are confident they can turn Wisbech Town's fortunes around.
Wisbech: Josh Allen; Aaron Hart, Stacy Cartwright, Liam Marshall (C), Beckham Kennelly, Khaya Roudette-Gregory, Matt Sparrow, Jack Keeble, Nathan Rudman (sub Tiago Nassunculo, 67'), Ollie Gale (sub Layton Maddison, 67'), John Dean.
Subs unused: James Connell, Jay Whyatt.
Goals: Carlton Town - Ball (68').
Cautions: Wisbech Town - Keeble (dissent).
Carlton Town - Thomas (foul), Fletcher (foul).
Sent off: Carlton Town - Clarke (two bookings).