NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: First league point followed by FA Cup success for Wisbech Town
PUBLISHED: 09:13 05 September 2019
Manager Seb Hayes believes Wisbech Town are moving firmly in the right direction.
The Fenmen have enjoyed an upturn in form in recent days by following up their first Northern Premier League South East Division point with FA Cup progress.
They opened their league account at the fourth attempt last Saturday with a 2-2 draw at Newcastle Town when recent signing Declan Rogers bagged both goals during a second-half fightback.
And Rogers, snapped up from AFC Rushden & Diamonds last month, found the net again on Tuesday to set Wisbech on the way to a 4-0 victory at Ely City in an FA Cup preliminary round replay.
The Fenmen were held 2-2 by their lower-level Cambridgeshire rivals in the initial clash 10 days earlier, but there never looked like being a shock in the return clash as they took command with three goals in the space of 10 minutes early on.
Rogers' opener was followed by strikes from Joel Earps and Aaron Hart before Layton Maddison clinched victory early in the second half by completing a terrific counter-attack.
Hosts Ely were later reduced to 10 men when their striker Steve Holder saw red for elbowing Fenmen keeper Dan Farrell.
"You will always take a point from 2-0 down, but I felt we should really have won the game at Newcastle," admitted Hayes.
"We were the better team throughout but they had two chances in the first half and took them both.
"We showed great character to come back in the second half and get our first league point and goals.
"We battered Ely in the first FA Cup game at our place but couldn't take our chances.
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"On Tuesday we were dominant again and this time managed to put the ball in the net.
"In a weird way having the extra game helped us as it is more time on the pitch for our squad to gel.
"We've had an upturn in from after only losing one of our last four games, but there is still plenty more improvement to be found.
"Putting the ball in the net has been an issue so scoring six times in two games is really pleasing.
"We've found a formation that we believe can allow to us hurt opponents, but we're still lacking an out-an-out centre forward."
Hayes has been using either midfielder Earps or defender Phil Bilson as an emergency striker in recent games.
That will continue this Saturday when Wisbech host higher-level Hitchin Town in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup (3pm).
The Hertfordshire side have picked up only one point so far in the Southern League Premier Division Central so Wisbech have reasons to be optimistic of causing a shock.
"It's a home game and if we do what we're good at, we've got every chance," added Hayes.
"Hitchin look to have had a tough start in their division, but then we've only got one point in our league.
"A cup run would be great both financially and to create some excitement for the fans."
A replay will take place on Monday if required. Otherwise Wisbech host Lincoln United in a league game on Tuesday, 7.45pm.