Saturday was a crisp, bright February day. With the new manager settling in well, the Trafford Park faithful were looking to get back to winning ways, writes Darren Wiseman. The Robins bobbed into the Broads on the back of a 5-1 victory at Long Melford in the league, sitting nicely in mid table on the same points as the Yachtsmen. The day boded well for a closely fought contest.
Wroxham lined up with George Macrae in goal, Captain Tom Matthews, Joe Manning, Archie Galley and Mark Shadrack protecting him in the home back four. Payton Swatman, Adam Smith and Shaun Taylor central in midfield with Craig Bussens and Marcus Wilkinson out wide hoping to service Connor Ingram up front. Ely got the game under way shooting towards the Kenny Cooke stand.
Wroxham were on the front foot early, and a sign of things to come was on display as Craig Bussens found joy down the right. He found some space taking Alex Brown and was able to get a shot off from the corner of the area but visiting keeper Harry Reynolds was able to easily gather.
The visitors then enjoyed a period of concerted pressure. They had successive early corners and showed good movement and communication to try and work an opening. Fortunately, the Yachtsmen were just as lively in defence and held firm.
Ely showed themselves to be much more direct early on when in advance positions. They exhibited this well after 6 minutes, number 9 Dan Brown running straight at the Wroxham back line. He was able to bear down on goal but as he pulled the trigger from 18 yards Tom Matthews was able to close down and block to concede a third corner.
Early on the tone was set. Wroxham looked good in possession, with Connor Ingram causing problems for the Robins, whereas the visitors were able to run at Wroxham, with neat intricate play around the box causing problems but no chances.
Ely took until there 5th corner to win a header from the resulting cross. After Jonathan Brown had his effort blocked by Mark Shadrack, the ball came into the Wroxham area from the right and Ollie Brookes rose unchallenged to meet the ball. The visiting centre half’s header luckily flew wide of the goal.
On 14 minutes Wroxham made their first clear cut opportunity. The worked the ball well down the right, then launched a long ball over the top for Ingram to run into the channel. He was clear as he ran into the area and let fly across goal. Keeper Reynolds got down well but was only able to parry and he was relieved to see no Yachtsmen appear to tap home. The ball was cleared and the chance was gone.
Wroxham were warming to their challenge now and on 15 minutes Wilkinson attacked down the left hand side and was able to cross. His cross was parried and cleared but only as far as Manning, who crossed again and the on rushing Ingram won a header at the near post, but unfortunately for him it flashed past the near post.
On 17 minutes the Yachtsmen broke the deadlock with a fantastic goal. A corner was delivered, but rather than swung into the box, it was passed crisply to the advancing Payton Swatman. Swatman met the ball sweetly first time in the centre of the D, some 25 yards out, and drilled the ball into the top right corner. It was a brilliant hit and a goal celebrated loudly by the 107 fans in attendance.
Now in the lead, Wroxham really started to dominate. They were not able to create clear opportunities but there was no danger of giving away an equaliser. Bussens continued to get great joy out of the right hand side, and the Yachtsmen were winning all the duels across the pitch.
On 29 minutes the spell of dominance was punctuated with a rare Ely chance. Deakin Napier was able to cut in from the right wing, and after riding challenge was able to get a shot off, but this went right down Macrae’s throat and he held the shot well.
On 44 minutes Wroxham created the last chance of the half. Wilkinson ran clear, but rather than continue to push forward he stopped, clearly not fancying his chances against Ely defender Tom Williams. As Williams challenged the ball rolled out to the confident Swatman and he tried again from distance, but this time it went over. The Yachtsmen went onto the break however content that they were in control in what had been a dogged first half.
The second half started with visitors full back Alex Brown being substituted. Craig Bussens had given him a torrid time all first half and it felt inevitable that the visitors would have to change things. Alex Theobald came on to try and give the Robins a little more solidity on their left side. On 48 minutes Wroxham followed Ely’s lead with Payton Swatman making way. He had been carrying a knock and immediately got some ice on his injury when he came off, and he was replaced by Robbie Sweeney.
The pattern of play continued with few chances being created. On 55 minutes Adam Smith played a delightful ball into Bussens, and he attempted to lob the keeper from 30 yards , with the ball only going over by a yard with the visiting keeper back peddling. Reynolds in goal looked to be carrying a knock but with the game so close it was hard for the Yachtsmen to test his mobility.
Ely fought hard but were never able to create any chances to get back in the game. Wroxham passed well and progressed through the thirds nicely, but they too struggled to get a clear sight of goal. With 20 minutes to go, it was still unclear where the points would end up.
On 72 minutes Ely forced a corner. The ball was swung in to the area, and it was bundled over the line. Amongst the melee the referee spotted an infringement and the goal was ruled out. The Yachtsmen management team reacted with Ingram coming off to be replaced by the fresh legs of Peter Wiltshire.
As Wroxham continued to press with no end product, it was the visitors who started to get a little closer to opening. On 80 minutes a long cross field ball got the Robins away down their right. The ball was worked back inside to substitute Theobald, but his long range effort was well over the bar.
On 86 minutes a controversial incident that could have put the game to bed. Wroxham broke well and the ball was worked to Shaun Taylor. As he neared the by-line Taylor crossed but Ollie Brookes dived to block. The referee saw this as a fine clearing header. Everyone else to a man saw a clear hand ball that was only punished by a corner.
Going into the final minutes Wroxham manged to see the game out nicely. They held on well to earn 3 very hard earned points from a dogged performance against a solid opponent. Craig Bussens was a clear man of the match as his energetic performance always gave the Yachtsmen an out and terrorised the visitors right hand side all afternoon.
The Yachtsmen go on to play 4th placed Histon away from home next Saturday. A game that could have a massive impact on any lingering promotion hopes that Wroxham may still cling to. If they remain as solid though they may come away with something from what looks a tricky away day.
Photographs courtesy of Dawn Matthews, DM Photography https://www.facebook.com/pg/DMPhotograhy/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1685249648188221