NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Wisbech St Mary pay the price against rampant league leaders Mulbarton Wanderers
PUBLISHED: 19:51 01 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:51 01 February 2020
Wisbech St Mary paid a heavy price after missing key opportunities against the rampant league leaders on Saturday.
Saints were beaten 5-0 by Mulbarton Wanderers at the ABC Stadium, leaving them seven points adrift at the foot of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North table.
Despite a battling performance, Mulbarton were just too strong for Alex Kaufman's men as they pounced on a lack of cutting edge in the final third, with three goals coming in the last 15 minutes.
The hosts included three new signings in their squad, with some impressing more than others. Goalkeeper Quincy Shorunmu alongside forwards Matt Harris-Hercules and the returning Aidan Sewell were among three changes to the team that drew with Sheringham a fortnight ago.
Chances were few and far between for Saints, with dangerous-looking tackles flying in on a shortened pitch to usual, which was perhaps planned for tactical reasons.
A wave of early Mulbarton pressure paid dividends when Sam Whiting headed home a loose ball after Shorunmu had denied Toby Oliver's fierce strike destined for the top corner.
In response, this gave Saints belief that they could threaten the Norfolk outfit. Harris-Hercules showed reasons why he was signed from Haverhill Borough, producing nimble footwork and electric pace to burst away from his defender.
Last-ditch challenges from the likes of Saints captain Tom Chilton and Stuart Beckett kept a feisty first-half alive, but their teammates were soon dealt a body blow on the stroke of half-time.
With Shorunmu rushing towards the edge of his penalty area to close down Mulbarton's Ben Thompson, there was Dom Doggett to strike into an empty net. Not what the manager ordered.
Having won three of their previous six games by one goal, the visitors were prowling for more, but Fernand Bass was alert to clear away from underneath his own crossbar.
Then came arguably the turning points that could well have rattled the runaway leaders.
Goalkeeper Tom Wright sprung into life when tipping Corey Kingston's strike, who was denied a 10th goal in 13 appearances for Saints, agonisingly onto the crossbar, before the forward's drilled cross for the onrushing Flo Tsaguim was inches from making contact.
Before Tsaguim's miss, a cry of "we need more" from Kingston was bellowed across the pitch, but this ultimately fell on deaf ears.
Mulbarton always looked capable of upping a gear, even before the introduction of hat-trick hero Tom Amis when Shorunmu denied Oliver in a one-on-one situation.
But on 75 minutes, the former Rushden & Diamonds 'keeper was prone to a horrendous error, passing straight to the opposition from a goal-kick that Amis duly punished after tapping home Thompson's pass.
The mentality of the Saints' players changed, as did the mood among a healthy number of supporters who took advantage of free entry as part of the club's community initiative.
A lapse in concentration inside the area was penalised by referee Joseph Karram, as Amis converted the resulting spot-kick before rounding off a five-star display to stroke a well-worked move into the net in added time.
Not the return to action Kaufman was hoping for in perhaps their toughest game of the season so far, but not to panic, there are still flashes of life in the Saints yet.
Wisbech St Mary: Quincy Shorunmu, Andy Willmott, Fernand Bass, Tom Chilton © (sub Aidan Sewell, 80'), Jordan Goult, Stuart Beckett, Matt Harris-Hercules (sub Pawel Kalvzny, 89'), Jake Miller, Ryan Harnwell, Flo Tsaguim (sub Clifford Williams, 77'), Corey Kingston.
Sub unused: Joel Anthony-Smith.
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Goals: Mulbarton Wanderers - Whiting (17'), Doggett (43'), Amis (75', 90' pen and 90'+2).
Cautions: Wisbech St Mary - Goult (foul).
Man of the Match: Jake Miller.