Johnson the unlikely hero as late goal clinches unconvincing win for Wisbech Town
Ridgeons Premier Division: Wisbech Town 3 Great Yarmouth Town 2
SCOTT Johnson’s first goal in more than five years saw Wisbech Town snatch an unconvincing but vital 3-2 victory against Great Yarmouth Town.
The Fenmen dominated the first half - despite going behind - and should have wrapped the game up before the break as they carved open the visitors’ defence time and time again to create countless chances.
After goals from Andy Furnell and Ash Stevens the only question seemed to be how many the rampant Wisbech would score after the interval. Yet, an early second-half equaliser from Gavin Norman changed the complexity of the game and Yarmouth looked the likely winners as the match progressed.
Lea Jordan made three excellent saves - more than making up for his first-half blunder which allowed Jake Reed to put Yarmouth in front - as Wisbech seemed to be heading for their 10th draw of an inconsistent campaign.
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However, with just three minutes remaining Scott Johnson gambled on Paul Cousin’s flick-on and volleyed home to spark joyous scenes.
Wisbech Town boss Steve Appleby admitted he was less than impressed with his side’s performance but put his outfit’s disjointed display down to a lack of games.
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Appleby said: “To be truthful we wanted three points from the game and that’s what we’ve got.
“We started well, but conceded a stupid goal. However, we then responded really well and went 2-1 up and to be fair we could have gone on and got more.
“I said to the lads at half time, if we start right and keep doing the good stuff then we could get more but we gave away another sloppy goal. It was poor defending and it’s happening too regularly.
“If I’m being brutally honest even though we’ve won I’ve had a bit of a pop at the lads because today hasn’t been good enough - we so easily could have lost that game.
“You could see the relief after Johnson’s goal from the lads. I would have slashed my own wrists had we drawn again.
“I’ve got total confidence in the lads but I think today was down to our lack of football at the minute. One or two were huffing and puffing and although the lads are fit and training well, 90 minutes on a heavy pitch is a different ball game.
“That isn’t making excuses - it’s just a fact. We’ve only had two or three games in 10 weeks and until we get playing regular matches you won’t see the best of us.”
Wisbech played some excellent football in the opening stages with the creativity of Callum Reed and Paul Jones wreaking havoc. It was Reed’s through-ball which gave the Fenmen their first real chance but Stevens’ scuffed effort was saved by Yarmouth’s ‘keeper Jake Jessup’s out-stretched leg.
Despite being dominated, it was the visitors who took a shock lead when Jordan dropped a real clanger. As he came out to collect the ball he failed to get his body behind it and Jake Reed poked it through his hands before strolling through to pass the ball into an empty net.
The goal only served to reinvigorate Wisbech who equalised just three minutes later when the unmarked Furnell headed home Simon Flanz’s chipped centre.
And as Wisbech poured forward - exposing the hopeless Bernardo Junior who was ripped to shreds at right-back for Yarmouth - the second soon came.
Stevens’ was the poacher supreme as he flicked the ball past Jessup to give the Fenmen a deserved lead. And they should have capitalised on their dominance as Reed served opportunities on a plate with some fine deliveries from the right-hand side.
However, his best cross - fizzed right along the six-yard box - couldn’t be turned home despite the desperate efforts of Stevens and Furnell - who himself excelled with his knowledgeable link-up play before the break.
Many expected the one-way traffic to continue after the interval, but it didn’t - as miserable defending gave Reed the room to shoot and Norman tapped home after Jordan parried.
Yarmouth didn’t deserve to be level - but they controlled the game for the rest of the second half and went close first through Dominic Smith and then Reed.
Jordan’s third great second-half save - and arguable his best - came with just 10 minutes left as he tipped over a fierce effort from Scott Woodcock.
The usually reliable Wisbech defence was creaking, and despite a triple substitution, the Fenmen seemed to have no answer to Yarmouth’s domination.
A draw seemed like the best possible outcome for the home side.
However, out of the blue Johnson popped up to grab only his second ever goal for Wisbech to put Appleby’s side in front with minutes left.
There was still time for Jordan to make one more fine save - this time tipping Smith’s header wide - but Wisbech hung on to secure the most unconvincing of victories.
Appleby praised Jordan’s second-half contribution, but admitted Reed was his side’s only real performer on the day.
“Although Lea made a mistake with the first goal he’s kept us in the game at the end.
“No disrespect to Yarmouth but I don’t think they’re a particularly good side. Yet, they seemed to get stronger and more with it as the game went on and they could have easily won.
“Ash’s goal was the type I expect him to score and Andy Furnell got the goal he deserved because his link-up play was second to none in the first half. However, Callum Reed has been exceptional for us and he was one of the bright sparks really all game.
“His energy and his crossing and everything he brings to the side was there to see.”
Jon Fairweather and Billy Smith travelled with the reserves, who lost 3-2 at Brampton, while Matt Lunn missed out through illness.
Credit also has to go to David ‘Snips’ Parsons, Jonny Pearce and a number of other helpers who worked tirelessly from 8.30am to ensure the game could go ahead.
Wisbech Town: Jordan, Flanz, Cousins, Reeve, Cartwright, Reed, Jones (Fysh, 68), Thompson, Johnson, Furnell (Treacher, 68), Stevens (Jimson, 68), Subs not used: Appleby, Dear
Man of the match: Callum Reed - Full of energy on the right-hand side of midfield. Delivered cracking crosses time and time again.