Wisbech Town throw away two-goal lead to draw with struggling Walsham-le-Willows
A LACKLUSTRE Wisbech Town threw away a two-goal lead to take just a point from their clash with Ridgeons Premier Division draw-specialists Walsham-le-Willows on Saturday.
The draw was Walsham’s 15th of the season, and the away side fully deserved their share of the spoils in an end-to-end tussle at the Tom Wood’s Beer Fenland Stadium.
The Fenmen seemed to have made Walsham pay for missing an early penalty when a bizarre own goal and an Ash Stevens strike gave them a comfortable lead.
But defensive frailties allowed Walsham a route back into the match and a goal either side of half time was enough to see the Premier Division strugglers net a valuable point.
Fenmen boss Steve Appleby said: “To be honest I think that was probably one of our worst performances of the season. We just weren’t at the races.
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“We have thrown the whole match away. We were lucky to be two up in the first place. It was a bad day at the office.
“Not many of our players performed. Lea Jordan had a good game and if it wasn’t for him then they could have had a hatful.
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“I have a had a bit of a pop at the lads. We won’t sweep that result under the carpet but you can’t be too harsh and we will come back stronger.”
The match - sponsored by the Wisbech Standard - was sparked into life after just ten minutes, when a rash Stacy Cartwright challenge gave Walsham the chance to take the lead from the spot.
But the Fenmen were handed their first let-off of the day when Andrew Cusack skewed his penalty wide of Lea Jordan’s left-hand post.
The scare seemed to force Wisbech into life and minutes later the Fenmen went ahead. Walsham’s captain Gavin Johnson turned Matt Lunn’s innocuous-looking through ball into his own net to the dismay of his onrushing ‘keeper.
The Suffolk side almost netted an automatic reply and Wisbech were left thankful for their ‘keeper Jordan, whose double-save preserved the Fenmen’s lead.
As the first half drew on, Walsham began to pour forward forcing corner after corner in a sustained spell of pressure.
But, after 25 minutes, it was the home side that doubled their lead against the run of play.
Good work from Lunn forged a shooting opportunity for Stevens and the the in-form striker bent his shot around the Walsham ‘keeper from the tightest of angles to net his fourth goal in three games.
Despite the two-goal cushion, the Fenmen continued to look uncomfortable and Jordan was again called into action to save at striker Ben Soames’ feet.
But Jordan could do nothing when, after 35 minutes, Cusack made up for his penalty miss by arriving at the back post to fire a half volley into the corner of the Wisbech net.
A fired-up Walsham continued to assert themselves after the break, with Jordan twice pulling off reaction stops to keep the home side in front.
Matt Lunn fired over the bar for Wisbech and Jon Fairweather saw his header ruled out in controversial circumstances, after the referee blew for a foul on the Walsham goalkeeper.
The visitors grabbed their deserved equaliser shortly after the hour mark, with a real moment of attacking quality.
Cusack found space down the left and, after beating his man, whipped an inviting ball into the box where Jack Brame rose highest to nod Walsham level.
Neither side seemed content with a point, as the introduction of Billy Smith injected more pace into Wisbech’s game.
And Walsham looked dangerous on the counter, with Jordan palming a James Tatham strike wide.
A moment of magic from Lunn saw him rattle the post from 20 yards while seconds later Paul Jones watched his cross skim off the bar.
But, in a frantic last ten minutes, nobody was able to produce a winning touch to leave a result which neither manager will have been delighted with.
Appleby said: “The good thing is that we are back playing on Tuesday, so we have an automatic chance to put things right. You can see that they are gutted in the changing room and it’s good that they still feel that desire.
“Good players don’t turn into bad players overnight and we just need to make sure that we do put things right.
“We have to take some positives. We’ve played poorly and still got a draw.”
Wisbech return to action on Tuesday when they will travel to Newmarket Town.
• Today’s game - which saw under-14s get free entry with a paying adult - was sponsored by the Wisbech Standard.
The half-time competition saw 13-year-old Erin Larham win the Wisbech Standard raffle. She was awarded a football signed by the Wisbech Town team.
Wisbech: Jordan, Fairweather, Cartwright (Johnson, 56), Cousins, Reeve, Weston, Jones, Thompson (Smith, 70), Furnell (D Jimson, 80), Stevens, Lunn. Subs not used: Flanz
Man of the match: Lea Jordan - The reliable shot-stopper was the only player to really excel for Wisbech in a disappointing afternoon. Rightly credited by his manager, Jordan was always alert and made stunning saves at crucial moments to ensure his side took a share of the spoils.