It was a cup tie that had everything: 5 goals, an extra time winner, 3 penalties, a red card and both teams going all out for the win. Unfortunately, that fell the way of Saffron Walden, but Wroxham certainly acquitted themselves and won many plaudits from those who enjoyed the evening.
Tuesday’s replay took over where Saturday’s game had finished. Both sides played open attacking football and the only surprise was it took until the last minute of the first half for the deadlock to be broken. In truth, Wroxham should have been well ahead of their opponent, but some wayward finishing and good goalkeeping had kept them out until that point. The crowd of 272 were hugely entertained by the time that Simon Lappin’s left wing corner was met sweetly by the head of Chris Skipper to take the lead.
On 56 minutes, the early pressure of the second half, exerted by Saffron Walden gained reward. The home attacker was twisting and turning the Yachtsmen defence and right on the edge of the penalty area fell under pressure. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot (something he would do on three occasions during the night). Charlie Portway stepped up and his powerful shot was just out of reach of Connor Milligan. The keeper was having a good game between the posts.
The game wasn’t level for long. A hand-ball from a Wiltshire header was deemed deliberate and up stepped Simon Lappin to restore the lead for the Yachtsmen. Within 10 minutes, Paul Quick had awarded his third penalty of the night. Again, the Wroxham defender got close to the Walden attacker who fell in the area. Portway stepped up again to net his second goal of the game.
It was end-to-end play as both sides were looking to win in normal time. Cruise Nyadzayo had three good chances but on each occasion, he was thwarted. With three minutes remaining, Wroxham had an excellent chance to steal the win. Sonny Carey worked the ball across the area and laid it off to the incoming Simon Lappin. On this occasion, the shot was hard and low but wide of the goal. As the game went into injury time, Connor Milligan was determined to keep it level as he spectacularly pushed away a header from a corner.
An extra half-hour followed, and it began as normal time had finished with Milligan making an excellent save to push the ball away for a corner. Charlie Portway came close to completing his hat-trick in the 10th minute of extra time but was denied by the brilliance of Milligan. It is difficult sometimes that the Wroxham keeper is still a teenager. The rising shot was fingertipped onto the crossbar and over for a corner.
As the first half of extra time came to a close, a further controversial decision was made by the referee. Harley Black was dispossessed in midfield and in haste tried to get his foot between the ball and the opponent’s foot. The referee deemed it serious foul play and pulled out his red card for Black. The incident had sparked a small melee and Julian Simon-Parsons was lucky to remain on the pitch for a blatant headbutt in front of the assistant referee. Despite having a word with Paul Quick, no action was taken against the Saffron Walden player.
The second period of extra time commenced, and it wasn’t long before Saffron Walden made the extra player advantage to their favour. A corner from the left was saved by Milligan but Wroxham were unable to clear and Portway was well-positioned to poke home and complete his hat-trick. Wroxham were forced to go full on attack and managed to win a free kick on the edge of the Walden area. Simon Lappin placed the ball and his shot over the wall was unlucky to hit the top of the cross bar.
As the referee blew for full-time, Wroxham were given an ovation by the home support for their efforts and they were particular to pick out Milligan for his performance despite barracking him for 120 minutes.
Wroxham now have a home league fixture on Friday night to get over the disappoint of going out of the FA Cup with a local derby against Great Yarmouth.