Trafford Park was a picture as the 2nd place Seasiders came to Norfolk looking to chase down Coggeshall at the top of the table, writes Darren Wiseman. Their players looked set for business as their fans set about the Speckled Hen behind the club house bar. A young Yachtsmen team looked to have their work cut out as their season looked to peter out to a mid-table finish.
Wroxham lined up with George McCrae in goal, Kieran Smith and Lewis Wallace full backs, and Mark Shadrack and Adam Plumstead in the centre. Joe Manning, Harley Black, Marcus Wilkinson and Robbie Sweeney across midfield supporting Pete Wiltshire and Connor Ingram up top.
With Pre Match photos concluded Wroxham defended the Kenny Cooke stand in the first and got the game under way. The early stages were tight, with the Yachtsmen finding success early on chasing long balls. Wilkinson chased the first, and forced an error to earn an early cross. The ball was fizzed over but a defensive flick meant the ball just evaded the attacking men in blue.
The Seasiders first attack saw Sweeney track back well and block a cross which earned the visitors an early corner. The resulting corner was met by Miles Powell, who was at the heart of all of Felixstowe’s good play, but his header was just wide.
Marcus Wilkinson was next to chase a long ball from the Wroxham back line. This time his harrying brought a mistake, and the number 8 chanced his arm from the corner of the 18 yard box. His effort just missed the far post, but Wroxham were by no means out classed by their high flying opponent.
On their next attack, Felixstowe put together a good move, some nice play worked the ball into Kye Ruel in the penalty area, but his turn and shot was straight at the grateful McCrae.
As Wroxham continued to compete well, the 15th minute saw their best effort of the day. Robbie Sweeney this time chased a long ball down the channel on the left, and he was able to win the ball. He then flighted an effort from all of thirty yards towards Daniel Crumps goal. The visitors keeper was beaten all ends up, but the ball bounced off the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Their then followed a couple of fouls that would usual be of little note, but they would be the start of the defining story of the afternoon. Firstly, Kye Ruel gave away a foul for a strong challenge in his own half. The following freekick came to nothing, but as the ball was cleared Ruel was fouled by Plumstead, and the big number six picked up a booking for his troubles. Ruel was unable to continue, and as he limped away, Sheridan Driver comin on to replace him.
Miles Powell was starting to look the stand out player for the day. He ran into the Yachtsmen area on 25 mins, but his effort was well blocked by Mark Shadrack. The following corner was cleared away, but the visitors were starting to evidence that they were finding their rhythm. This was further evidenced when tough midfielder Stuart Boardley centred for Joe Francis to head wide.
Felixstowe and Walton United were beginning to really dominate possession. On 30 mins this bore fruit as Kieran Smith tried to tackle marauding full back Ethan Clarke, but the referee felt this untidy tackle merited a penalty. Joe Francis confidently dispatched the spot kick to give the visitors the lead.
Wroxham really need to hold on at this stage, but unfortunately to achieve this the Yachtsmen lost a bit of their discipline. First Shadrack conceded a free kick and earned a yellow card, but thankfully Boardley put his effort over the bar. Much worse was to follow however when Sam Ford, the pacey number 9 for the Seasiders, looked to be set free into the box. To control the ball he had to raise his foot up into Adam Plumstead’s face. Ball controlled, he then collided with the burly number 6, earning a free kick. Plumstead on the other hand earned an arguable second yellow card, and had to leave the pitch. All watching felt that the home team now had a long afternoon ahead of them.
The Seasiders had the ball in the net again just before half time. A corner from the right was headed in, but the referee ruled it out for pushing in the area. The Yachtsmen were happy to go in only a goal behind, but kept showing their fighting spirit. Sweeney with quick feet on the edge of the area making space for a shot, but Crump got down well to hold the effort.
The sunshine had lured a respectable 126 to Trafford Park. The home faithful, enjoying the usual Artic Monkeys and Stereophonics at half time, were struggling to think of a way that the second half would not be a damage limitation exercise. Plumstead’s departure had clearly changed the dynamic, particularly for when the legs start to tire later in the contest.
The visitors kicked us off for the second period, and they were on the front foot straight away. Good build up saw Ford link well with Driver and they played in Powell, but his chance was blocked behind for a corner. The first was cleared for another, and this second corner found skipper Rhys Barber free, but back pedalling, and he was only able to head off target at the back post.
Very noticeable at the start of the second half that the atmosphere with yachtsmen was very flat – with little to play for and down to 10 men, the body language at least did not suggest a large appetite for a fight in the second half. And as if on cue, Felixstowe and Walton United stretched their lead. Powell attempted a volley in the area but his effort was blocked behind by Wallace. The resulting corner came in and was cleared, but only as far as the dangerous Powell who placed his effort in the right corner.
On the hour, the Seasiders seemed to be collecting 3 points at a canter, but the Yachtsmen occasionally doing enough to keep their visitors honest. Sweeney and Black linked up well, with Black then drilling a cross towards Wiltshire, only for the defender to get a slight touch to take it away from the waiting striker.
The visitors got their third from a moment for Mark Shadrack to forget on 66 minutes. Wroxham were playing the ball around at the back, when the number 5 miscontrolled and Sam Ford jumped in to steal the ball. He passed nicely for the running Powell who stroked the ball past McCrae and into the net.
As the game drew to a conclusion, with Felixstowe and Walton United well on top, came the goal of the game. Having come on as a substitute Stuart Ainsley found the top right corner from a nice corner routine. With the yachtsmen not able to get out to him Ainsley was able to really put his foot through his effort and make it 4. This was on 84 minutes, and it has to be said the end could not quick enough to prevent further embarrassment on the scoreline.
Wroxham will be at home again on Tuesday, and they will hope to pick themselves up quickly so that they can give 18th placed Haverhill Rovers a real game at Trafford Park. For the Seasiders, it seems to be onwards and upwards