Wroxham 1 Saffron Walden Town 1; 11th August 2018
Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary round
It was a Sonny afternoon for the Yachtsmen, who lived to fight another day after a battling display, writes Darren Wiseman.
Saturday was a perfect day for football. Sunny and warm with fans keen to watch 2 teams battle it out in the cup. Its hard to think it was an FA Cup tie in mid-August, but what unfolded before the 126 fans who made it to Trafford Park had all the hallmarks of the famous competition.
Wroxham have a very new look team this year, and with George McCrae on the sidelines struggling to hold half a Carling and battle off Wasps with his bandaged hand, Goalkeeping duties were entrusted to teenager Connor Milligan. In front of him new full backs Kieran Smith and Joe Keeley flanked Chris Skipper and Wroxham stalwart and captain Adam Plumstead.
In Midfield were Simon Lappin and Harley Black, with Jordan Bond and Marcus Wilkinson on the flanks. Up front Pete Wiltshire led the line with Sonny Carey just behind him wearing number 10.
Sonny Carey it was who got us underway, with the Bloods from Saffron Walden defending the Kenny Cooke stand. The Yachtsmen made a solid start and were always looking to get the ball down and play, but it was the visitors who settled and created the first chance. They managed to get behind the home defence and fire a cross along the line of the six-yard box. Fortunately Keeley was the first player on the scene and was able to get the ball away for a corner. The corner gave a clue to the rest of the day, as Wroxham struggled to deal with the ball in, but luckily the pressure was broken when the attackers were flagged offside.
The game had an ebb and flow about it and Wroxham were next to create. Lappin freed on the left and his delicious ball in was won by Wiltshire in the air, but his header was just wide.
The game featured its share of mistakes, with passes going astray and tackles missed, but it was Milligan who nearly made a telling error after 7 minutes. His clearance was weak and pounced on by Julian Simon-Parsons, and after a mistake by Plumstead let him in one-on-one, it was down to Skipper to slide in and rescue the situation.
Walden had plenty of pace and strength in attack, and their number 10 Dan Prendall used all this to run into the channel after a long ball on 18 minutes. Skipper did well to stand him up, but he conceded a corner for his efforts. Wroxham dealt with the delivery, and from the corner sent Wilkinson free after a defensive error, the on-rushing winger got the by-line and tried to pick out the on-rushing Black who was central, but his effort was blocked. Lappin showed his quality all day with his delivery into the area, and on this occasion he found Plumstead free, but he was unable to keep his effort on target.
The Yachtsmen really enjoyed a strong spell at the midway point of the first half. The previous chance was followed up with Bond getting free on the right, and his ball in found Wiltshire but again his effort was wide.
On 25 minutes, Saffron Walden almost took the lead. The impressive Prendall let fly from distance out on the left side of the box, but his effort was tipped over by Milligan. Again, the Yachtsmen eventually dealt with the corner and cleared their lines. Wilkinson earning them a free-kick out on the left, midway into the Bloods half. Lappin again delivered a good ball in, it was cleared out to Wilkinson who managed to get the ball back into the box and find Bond, but his effort to lob the keeper was easily claimed.
Wroxham really pushed now and on 33 minutes, Wiltshire nearly got in after great work from Carey. The number 10 got the better of Riley out on the touchline, and his ball in set Wiltshire away, but goalkeeper Neil O’Sullivan was fast out of his goal to block.
Saffron Walden were not out of the tie by any means, and they pulled the momentum their way as half time approached. Lewis Francis out paced Keeley on the right and fired a ball across goal, but there was no one able to pounce and fortunately for the Yachtsmen the ball dribbled out for a goal kick.
This was Saffron Walden’s best period of the game, and within moments Lewis Francis had got the better of his full back again, and his cross picked out Prendall, unmarked in the centre of the goal, but he headed over.
The pressure finally told, albeit in comedic fashion. Prendall was again played in and managed to beat the onrushing Milligan but could not beat Skipper on the line. The tall number five laced the ball, but rather than it land in the river, it slammed into Milligan who was 2 yards in front of him and bobbled into the goal.
Wroxham seemed to take just a few minutes to get back into their stride after this set back, but just before half time the busy Wiltshire had worked another pocket of space in the area. He got a shot away, but this was blocked, but only as far as Carey, but Walden’s defenders put their bodies on the line and his effort was blocked away. This was the last of the 1st half action for the 126 in attendance.
With Adam Drury in the dug out from the start of the half, the assistant manager’s instructions clearly had an impact. The home team did as instructed, getting the ball down and really putting some good movement together. Great football through midfield saw Carey link well with Black, and their interchange sent the lively number 10 through, his effort beat the keeper, but unfortunately also the far post.
On 55 minutes, Wroxham won a corner after some patient build up down their right. Another great delivery from Lappin picked out Plumstead, but his bullet header just missed the near post. Plumstead had a busy 90 seconds, as play made its way to the home end, his sliding tackle on Prendall was considered late, and he earned himself a yellow card. The visitor’s number 8 had a go at goal from the resultant free kick, but his effort was straight at Milligan.
On 65 minutes, the Yachtsmen finally got the goal their play deserved. Bond chased down a seemingly lost cause and was able to beat his defender at the by-line to come away with the ball. His initial effort was cleared off the line, but the ball came straight back into the area and Sonny Carey was able to bundle the ball home.
The Yachtsmen were flying now, and really stringing some neat passes together. Black passed on to Wiltshire who was able to slide in Smith on the overlap. As he ran into the box he hit his effort first time, but O’Sullivan was able to tip over at the near post.
The game was now becoming frantic, Walden broke to the other end with Prendall hitting a sweet effort from range, only to see it cannon off the crossbar.
The tie was totally full blooded and committed , with both teams chasing a winner. Saffron Walden must have thought the had won it on 75 minutes. Prendall crossed for Simon-Parsons to header against the post. The ball dropped again for the number 9 but Milligan made a point blank save, and the ball was hacked clear.
In the last few minutes the chances kept on coming. Black tried from range, but his good-looking effort was just wide of the post. Then at the other end, Saffron Walden nearly went better with Prendall finding sub Lakin on the edge of the box, but his effort flew over. He had more time to do better to be fair.
In the last seconds, Wroxham nearly nicked it. Sub Ryan Miles made a great break, running from his own half deep into the Walden half, he passed inside to Carey, but he waited too long and by the time he shot the chance had gone and the ball was blocked and cleared away.
The referee blew his whistle, and both teams looked disappointed not to win. We will try again on Tuesday at Catons Lane to split the sides.
Man of the Match – Simon Lappin