Gee-whizz, what a great win for the Yachtsmen, writes Darren Wiseman
Trafford Park was a picture on Saturday afternoon. The pitch, lush and green, was framed perfectly against clouds, but with a nice temperature for football, the 156 in attendance felt everything was in place for a great game. The Willows arrived with a 100% record, and looked certain to prove tough opposition for Jordan Southgate’s mainly young squad.
Connor Milligan started in goal for the Yachtsmen, with Kieran Smith and Mac Gee full backs. Centre halfs Chris Skipper and Isaac Burrage were well protected by evergreen Simon Lappin. Josh Pond also started in midfield with Cruise Nyadzayo and Matt Doyle playing wide. Jordan Bond started number 10, looking to support Ryan Miles upfront.
Wroxham kicked off defending the Kenny Cooke stand, and both teams settled quickly. Both looked to play football the right way, with few fouls, good passing but few chances to show for it. The visitors stayed nice and compact as Wroxham had the ball for extended periods early on.
On 14 minutes came the first chance of the day, and it went to the Yachtsmen. Doyle did well out on the left, linking well with Lappin, whose ball in just missed Miles, but made its way to Nyadzayo on the back post. He controlled, beat his man, but his effort missed the far post and went wide.
On 16 minutes Walsham Le Willows earned their first corner after a blocked cross, but Wroxham managed to break at pace, and Miles looked to be played in down the centre. As he bore down on goal, Jack Brain slid in to dispossess the Yachtsmen forward. The home team appealed for a penalty, but the referee remained unmoved.
After 18 minutes young Josh Pond showed a glimpse of the skills that had earned him a start. He controlled and beat his man in midfield and played in the lively Nyadzayo, whose turn was impressive, but his shot was scuffed and rolled to the keeper to collect.
Wroxham looked to really get into their stride as the half progressed, with Doyle and Nyadzayo linking really well for the latter to force a corner with a blocked cross. With the first corner blocked behind, the second bounced in the area for Skipper to head on the rise, but his effort finished well wide.
Wroxham were having lots of joy down the right through Smith and Nyadzayo causing no end of problems to the Walsham defence, but it was the Willows who forced the next chance. A corner from the right found Ryan Twynn free, centre of the goal, but his powerful header was brilliantly saved by Milligan, who then claimed the next corner with no concerns.
Nyadzayo again was tormenting his full back Sam Peters again on 40 minutes. He beat his man twice, on both occasions he was fouled, but he kept his feet and his eventual effort was wide. Peters was then booked for his troubles.
Despite the home sides chances, it was the visitors who finished the half the strongest. Kieran Smith miss-hit an attempted clearance straight to Peters, who found Twynn on the edge of the box, but his effort was blocked behind by Lappin. The corner came to nothing, and with the ball in the air following the clearance the referee blew for half-time. It had been a great half for the Yachtsmen, but the fans all felt one goal would seal it.
With the news that Peter from Wroxham had won £25 on the Raffle, the home fans all now hoped that the Yachtsmen would hit the jackpot and get the win. With no changes at half-time the visitors got us back underway.
Kieran Smith was booked early in the second half for a late challenge. From the resulting free kick, the Willows went straight on the attack, running clear down their left with a dangerous ball in to the box having to be kicked over his own bar by Mac Gee.
With Nyadzayo still working well down the right, Wroxham seemed to edge corners and possession, but clear chances were few. On 63 minutes more good football found Simon Lappin free 30 yards from goal, but his effort went just wide of the post.
Marcus Wilkinson came on for Matt Doyle, and on 66 minutes he beat 2 men on his left side to get free, but he was unable to find anyone to finish. With so much success out wide, Southgate decided to replace Miles with the big man Pete Wiltshire, but in defence the Yachtsmen still had to be watchful. George Bugg picked the ball up on the edge of the home penalty area, and tried to bend his effort into the top corner. Fortunately, it was too high and too wide.
With 70 minutes gone the game just started to open up a bit. The brilliant Nyadzayo was again in on the right, and running into the box. When he was brought down everyone called for a penalty, but only a corner was given that came to nothing.
The next 5 minutes decided what had been a tight and closely contested game. The visitors built well through midfield to get the ball to Ryan Clarke, and his effort from around 10 yards was well saved at point blank by the advancing Milligan.
A few minutes later the fantastic Nyadzayo gave way to Joe Keeley, who continued to find success down the right. On 77 minutes a sweeping crossfield Lappin pass found the winger out wide whose cross was blocked for a corner. Lappin took it and Skipper was able to rise and flick it on for Mac Gee to appear at the back post to bundle the ball in off his knee from 4 yards. There followed fabulous scenes as the players and subs celebrated a goal in a tight contest, but it was no more than the Yachtsmen had deserved.
Wroxham were able to really keep going to the end following the goal, with the visitors not really able to break the well organised Yachtsmen down. A great win in the end, and Wroxham will hope to carry on their form next week in the FA Vase with a visit to Huntingdon Town.