Wroxham pulled off one of their performances of the season when they travelled to Felixstowe & Walton on Saturday. A 1-0 win courtesy of a late goal from substitute Craig Bussens against the league leaders was made all the sweeter as the Yachtsmen had to play over half the match with 10 men.
The visit to Felixstowe was, on paper, the toughest test to date for the new management of Jamie Godbold and Andy Reynolds. The home side had been beating all-comers and had not lost at home all season. With two performances scoring 8 goals and conceding none since their appointment, hopes were high for the trip. The Yachtsmen lined up with George Macrae in goal, a defence of Tom Matthews, Joe Manning, Mark Shadrack and Connor Deeks. Across the midfield were Adam Smith, Harley Black, Shaun Taylor, Payton Swatman and Marcus Wilkinson whilst Connor Ingram was tasked with creating trouble in the home side defence. Substitutes were Matt Cook, Jordan Bond and Craig Bussens.
The game started in drizzly cold conditions which meant the ball was zipping off the surface. The Yachtsmen were utilizing this by playing neat passing football whilst the Seasiders were trying to use their larger frames to try to bully Wroxham. The first opportunity for Wroxham came from a Marcus Wilkinson run down the left. The youngster put a teasing cross into the centre but no-one in a blue shirt was able to get on the end of it. Felixstowe had their first opening after 12 minutes as Scott Chaplin thought he had sight of goal but Joe Manning got in to block.
Captain, Tom Matthews tried a shot from 35 yards in the 17th minute and with the conditions was unfortunate to see Danny Crump in the home goal push it away just out of reach of the onrushing Connor Ingram.
Marcus Wilkinson was looking to take on the full back at any opportunity and his cross fell nicely for Harley Black. A cheeky chip from the midfielder fell just wide of the post.
The home side pushed forward and Callum Bennett weaved into the area, he played through Miles Powell but his shot was poor and went well wide of the goal.
On the half-hour, the home side players were starting to get a little tetchy and a poor tackle resulted in a free kick out wide on the right. Connor Ingram settled himself and whipped the ball just under the crossbar which was pushed over for a corner.
The tetchiness continued and a poor scissor tackle on Harley Black went unpunished by referee Adrian Sannerude but the play continued and a tackle by Adam Smith resulted in a 20-man melee. The referee decided that he would issue 3 yellow cards, Bennett for Felixstowe and Smith and Swatman for Wroxham. It did appear that he was rather lenient as Tom Matthews ended up on his back having been the recipient of a jab to the face in the chaos.
Felixstowe were angered by referee Mr Sannerude after 36 minutes as Kye Ruel went down in the Wroxham area. It did appear to be rather theatrical as play was waved on.
The game had taken a bit of a turn and was looking a bit feisty as both sides were making tackles that on another day would have been punished but the referee took no action. Wroxham captain Tom Matthews was next to receive a booking but on this occasion, it was for continuing with his kick after the referee had stopped play. Somewhat harsh with what had been occurring with the tackles.
Kye Ruel was denied by George Macrae after 38 minutes as he shot from the edge of the area. It looked a routine take but they all need to be made and the conditions were making it less easy.
As the game moved on, Felixstowe’s Jamal Wiggins was the next player to be given a yellow card. On 41 minutes, Wroxham found themselves reduced to 10 men. Tom Matthews having been booked previously slid into the tackle taking more of his opponent than the ball. It gave the referee no option and the yellow followed by red cards were reduced. In order to rework their defence Godbold brought on Matt Cook to replace Harley Black.
Felixstowe came out for the second half looking to take advantage of their extra player. A cross from the left was headed wide by Sheridan Driver when well placed. On 51 minutes, Danny Crump handled outside his area. The referee deemed it worthy of a yellow card and awarded Wroxham a freekick. Connor Ingram had the goal in his sights but his well-placed shot was just wide of the left upright. The 10 men were working hard and on breaks forward could easily have taken the lead. Connor Ingram managed to win a corner after he intercepted a Crossfield pass.
The home side looked dangerous and were only level thanks to George Macrae making some decent saves and Payton Swatman clearing the ball from under his own crossbar when the ball did get passed the keeper.
With 15 minutes left to play and the 10 men tiring in the heavy ground, the Wroxham management made their final substitutions. Marcus Wilkinson and Shaun Taylor were withdrawn and Jordan Bond and Craig Bussens entered the fray. It almost immediately paid off. Connor Ingram broke down the right for the Yachtsmen and his delicious ball across the area was met by Craig Bussens sliding in at the back post. The ball flew into the top of the net which sent the visiting support into delight as the super sub slid towards the corner in celebration.
The goal unsurprisingly forced Felixstowe to go all out on the attack. George Macrae was invincible as he stood tall against all that the home side threw at him. A series of corners and clearances by Wroxham saw Macrae make a magnificent double save. With time running out, the Yachtsmen were able to break on the counter. A fabulous display of ball holding in the corner as Wroxham looked to run down the clock. There was still time for Felixstowe to send Crump forward as Felixstowe gained a last-ditch corner but the resilient Yachtsmen defence stood firm to pull off their result of the season so far.