NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Fenmen chiefs call for more quality as they prepare to hit the road

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant

Wisbech Town boss Gary Setchell admitted his side need to show more quality in their pursuit of Northern Premier League Division One East safety.

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant

Only a superior goal difference currently keeps the Fenmen out of the drop-zone following a 1-1 home draw against bottom side Stocksbridge Park Steels last Saturday.

They are one of four teams locked together on 21 points in a division where the bottom seven clubs in the standings are covered by just four points.

Wisbech hit the front in the seventh minute when Toby Hilliard struck with a low shot after being played in by fellow frontman Michael Frew.

But their advantage was wiped out 20 minutes later Steels man Scott Ruthven punished defensive hesitancy to squeeze the ball in from a tight angle.

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant


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Sam Gaughran was closest to a Wisbech winner in the second half but saw his header whistle over the bar.

“We’ve ended up only drawing a game when the opposition have not even had a real shot on our goal,” reflected Setchell.

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“We got the early goal, but we had to do better with their equaliser when failing to deal with a nothing ball into the box.

“I can never question the effort and work-rate of my players, but our quality has to better at times.

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant

“Our front two were both excellent. Michael is in a good run of form and everyone saw the real Toby Hilliard in this game.

“But overall we didn’t hit our straps. We had too many lads getting fives and sixes out of 10 which is not enough at this level.

“That said, I don’t think Stocksbridge are the worst team we’ve faced this season by any means and I wouldn’t be surprised if they get away from bottom.

“The fact we’re disappointed with a draw shows how far we have come as a club.”

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant

Wisbech now face a testing run of five successive away fixtures in Division One East – which features dates against four teams currently in the top six.

That is where this Saturday’s opponents Loughborough Dynamo can be found along with Pontefract Collieries (January 26), Tadcaster Albion (February 2) and Sheffield FC (January 9). The Fenmen also go to struggling AFC Mansfield on January 19.

There is a much shorter trip to negotiate in the semi-finals of the Cambs Invitation Cup as well. Setchell’s men visit Ely City on February 12.

“We’re going into a crucial period in the season and we got to pick up results to keep the snow away from the door,” added Setchell.

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER

Toby Hilliard put Wisbech Town ahead against Stocksbridge Park Steels. Picture: IAN CARTER - Credit: Archant

“We’re unbeaten in five on the road and we probably play a little better away in all truth.

“At home the onus is on us to dictate the game and force the pace, but we are more effective when we can hit teams on the break.

“We’ve got a small squad, but we’re injury free at the moment and we’ll continue to work hard.

“We know we need points from this spell of away games otherwise we will find ourselves bottom of the league.”

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