After the match, Wroxham manager Tom Parke tweeted “We need to convert 80% possession into goals and avoid sloppy mistakes”. I think that summed up nicely a strange day that was at once pleasing and promising as well as alarming, writes Darren Wiseman.
A beautiful English summer day, meaning we had sunshine, heat and driving rain all in 1 hour, saw Stanway Rovers visit Trafford Park. The Yachtsmen were looking to build on their impressive 4-0 win at Wivenhoe, whereas Rovers were looking to bounce back after a 3-1 reverse at Felixstowe.
Wroxham lined up with Will Viner in goal, Craig Bussens and Tom Matthews at full back with Joe Manning and Matt Cook at centre half. In Midfield Payton Swatman and Adam Smith patrolled centrally with Ben Fowkes and Robbie Sweeney out wide. Ross Gilfedder led the line with Harley Black floating just behind. Stanway got us underway shooting towards the car park end.
The first 90 seconds reflected the way the majority of the game would go. Wroxham, looking good in possession, probed the visitors defence looking for an opening, Stanway on the other hand then pressed and forced a mistake. Taylor Bannister winning the ball, but as he looked to burst clear on the halfway line Joe Manning blocked his path, earning himself an early yellow card for his troubles.
On 5 minutes, the Yachtsmen fashioned their first chance. Harley Black with a nice turn in midfield making himself some space so he chanced his arm from 35 yards. His shot was over however, but the lively Black had laid down a marker for what was to be a good performance.
On 12 minutes, Stanway Rovers opened the scoring. Matt Cook made a mistake dealing with a long ball into the Wroxham half, and former Colchester United stalwart Kemal Izzet was able to pounce on the loose ball and play a pass onto the onrushing Taylor Bannister. One more pass over to the flying Jordan Blackwell as he entered the box was placed so that the winger could take one touch and then finish into the bottom left of the goal.
Wroxham took this rightly in their stride, and were right back on the front foot. Nice inter play nearly played in Ben Fowkes but he was not quite able to reach the forward pass. Shortly after, more of the same. Nice play brought a good situation and a great delivery from the left, but this time it was Gilfedder who could not reach the cross.
On 24 minutes, Fowkes and Sweeney combined well to test Plummer in the Rovers goal. Fowkes worked space on the left to float a cross to the back post, where Sweeney met it with his head only to see Plummer gather easily. The Yachtsmen were clearly knocking on the door, and on 29 minutes they very nearly knocked it down with the best move of the afternoon.
Moving the ball quickly and neatly, Wroxham worked the ball out to Matthews who was able to pick a pass to Fowkes rather than float a cross. Fowkes hit the shot first time but his effort was agilely tipped onto the bar and over by the diving Plummer. It brought applause from the watching spectators and rightly so, it was great flowing football that deserved a goal.
5 minutes later, the Yachtsmen did get the goal they deserved. Again, more patient build up found Swatman, occupying the space between defence and midfield, and he was able to turn and rifle a shot towards goal. Plummer was able to get both hands to the effort, but he only succeeded in spilling the ball into the net at his left hand post.
As the half came to a close there really was one team in it as the Yachtsmen really pegged their visitors back. Izzet had to be withdrawn through injury and was replaced by Mason Lumley, and he was forced to join an increasingly desperate rear guard as first Black, and then Gilfedder twice had chances to give Wroxham the lead. However, the half did finish at 1-1.
As the second half started Stanway made another change. They withdrew Lewis Hewitt and brought on 16 year old debutant Owen Akpiama. However, he was unable to make the game feel much different as the second half got underway. Wroxham were well on top with Adam Smith calling the shots and Harley Black demanding the ball, and 49 minutes a corner was cleared out to Smith, whose shot played pinball around the Rovers box before Fowkes was only able to poke the ball wide when it fell to him.
Next, Black and Sweeney combined, with space being made for Sweeney to shoot, but although he beat Plummer his attempt was blocked on the line. The rebound dropped to Black, but his ball was blocked for a corner which came to nothing.
On 60 minutes, Sweeney was played in down the channel, and his delicious ball across the area was out of the reach of everyone.
On 63 minutes Fowkes was withdrawn and replaced by Wiltshire. Wroxham continued to dominate but they had a warning shot across the bows when Bannister won the ball back again and played in Heron, but he was only able to hit his effort over the bar. He was let in again when Cook was careless in possession, but as Heron barred down on goal his attempted lob skewed left and wide.
Wroxham then summed up the match again in 60 short seconds. Firstly, the Yacthsmen strung 20 crisp passes together in a flowing move before shooting wide. Their opponents then went more direct, with the ball out to Heron on the Rovers right who beat Matthews, and crossed for 16 year old Akpiama to side foot in from 2 yards.
The Yachtsmen needed desperately to respond, and they did five minutes latter. Matthews was again the provider and his deep cross was met right on schedule by Bussens, heading in at the back post.
The last 10 minutes of the game had everything as both teams pushed for a win. The Wroxham bench were adamant on 84 minutes that a penalty should be given for handball, but James Turner the referee saw nothing doing.
The Stanway goal had something of the Alamo about it as the game drew to a close, but it was they who fashioned the best chance with practically the last kick of the game. Again Bannister harassed Cook, and he won the ball and broke clear. He was one on one with Will Viner, but the big keeper used his presence to make the target as small as he could, and Bannister could only hit his effort right at him.
So a very entertaining match finished 2-2, with Wroxham especially feeling they should have had more. They go again at Long Melford next Saturday, and you feel that if they carry on playing the way they are they will win more than they lose.