It was a baptism of fire for the new Wroxham management team of Jordan Southgate and Adam Drury, writes Adrian Gowling. A visit to Godmanchester Rovers on the first day of the season was never going to be an easy start after they had put 5 goals past the higher-level Cambridge City in midweek.
Wroxham lined up with several players making their senior competitive debuts with others returning to the club after a period playing for other sides in the county. Connor Milligan made his debut in goal, at the back were Adam Plumstead, Chris Skipper, Keiran Smith and Mac Gee. A midfield consisting of Simon Lappin, Joe Keeley, Harley Black with Cruise Nyadzayo, Sonny Carey and Matty Doyle in a fluid front three.
The young Yachtsmen had started the game brightly and in fact had the first opportunity to open the scoring. However, with those chances not being turned into goals, the more experienced Godmanchester grew stronger and made the most of the opportunities that came their way. A devastating 15-minute period in the first half was instrumental in making sure Wroxham finished the game pointless.
The first half chance of the afternoon fell to Cruise Nyadzayo after just three minutes. A through ball from Adam Plumstead reached the striker. As he advanced, the ball bobbled on the hard, dry pitch and he was unable to get a clear shot. Just moments later, Nyadzayo looked odds on to score as he raced through on goal but a nudge to his back by a defender knocked him out of his stride. The referee was unmoved by any claims for a penalty.
Matty Doyle was unable to get a clear shot on goal after a towering header from Chris Skipper reached the striker. Immediately though a long ball down the right let in the Godmanchester winger who pulled the ball back across the area for Unwin to slot home. A blow to Wroxham who had looked the better side up to that point.
On 11 minutes a nasty incident resulted in a small melee after Joe Keeley received a knock to his head which saw the Godmanchester playing being booked. After some prolonged treatment, the Wroxham debutant was forced out of the game to be replaced by Marcus Wilkinson.
Just before the half-hour, a misplaced pass in midfield by Simon Lappin gifted the ball to Mike Hyem. He was able to squeeze the ball to Matt Allan who fired into the net passed the unfortunate Connor Milligan.
As half-time approached, an extended period of injury time following Keeley’s earlier injury resulted in the Yachtsmen conceding a further two goals. The first was a speculative lob to Mike Hyem whose volley was a neat finish. No sooner had Wroxham set up again, a long ball over the top and some neat footwork by Matt Allan put a defender and Connor Milligan on the floor as he passed the ball into the net. This gave Wroxham a huge mountain to climb and the second half task was to try to gain some respectability.
The second half saw Wroxham come out looking to get on the scoresheet and to make up ground. Matty Doyle was realised down the left, but his shot was blocked away for a corner which came to nothing.
In the meantime, the home side were not looking to rest on their lead and a free kick from just outside the Wroxham penalty area brought out the best of Connor Milligan as he dived full-length to push the ball out for a corner.
Just before the hour mark, the Yachtsmen were given an excellent chance to pull a goal back. A cross into the area was handled by a Godmanchester defender but despite their protestations, a penalty was awarded. Cruise Nyadzayo stepped up but his shot slammed against the crossbar and over the goal.
Despite the disappointment, Wroxham were still going forward. Matty Doyle robbed a defender and slid the ball past the keeper but agonisingly it was also past the post as Wilkinson rushed in to try to get a toe on the ball.
All of Wroxham’s hopes went on 75 minutes when Matt Hyem stooped to head home a free kick as he was left unmarked in the area and leave Godmanchester 5-0 ahead.
In the strength-sapping heat, Jordan Southgate introduced Daegan Watts to replace Nyadzayo who had had a tough afternoon. A free header by Mac Gee from a Wroxham corner showed the visitors were determined to continue to go forward.
Godmanchester were given a further chance soon after though as they were awarded a penalty of their own. Connor Milligan caught the attacker as he was reaching towards the ball and the referee didn’t hesitate to award a spot-kick and a yellow card to the keeper. This gave Hyem the chance to complete his hat-trick, but Milligan wasn’t in a generous mood. He dived low to his right and made the save.
There was still a further chance for Wroxham as Sonny Carey was unlucky to see his shot hit the post after he had created an opening, but it wasn’t to be Wroxham’s day.
After the game manager Jordan Southgate commented that “today was a big learning curve and a disappointing result. The positives were the chances that we made. The scoreline didn’t reflect the performance put in by the players. We now moved on to Tuesday and putting it right in front of our home support at Trafford Park”.