Seventeen-year-old Josh Pond scored a brace with Matt Doyle and Joe Keeley also netting as Wroxham ran out 4-0 winners away at Huntingdon Town in the first round qualifying in the FA Vase. The Yachtsmen were always the better team against a side that had looked to intimidate rather than to play football, but it didn’t put the young Norfolk side off their game.
Wroxham lined up with Connor Milligan in goal, a defence of Mac Gee, Adam Plumstead, Chris Skipper and Kieran Smith. In midfield, Josh Pond, Simon Lappin, Jordan Bond whilst Cruise Nyadzayo and Matt Doyle were supporting the late replacement Peter Wiltshire. Ryan Miles had originally been named in the starting 11 but was injured in the warm up. On the bench were Marcus Wilkinson, Isaac Burrage and Joe Keeley.
United Counties League side Huntingdon kicked off the game and in the very first minute gave the Yachtsmen an early scare. James Wills was inches away from getting a touch to a low cross. From the resulting goal kick, Sheldon Washington managed to outpace Plumstead but the ball ran through to Connor Milligan.
Wroxham had their first sight of the Hunters goal in the third minute. A free kick from Simon Lappin wasn’t cleared by the home defence and Matt Doyle’s strike was wide of the post.
Matt Doyle was enjoying his afternoon and was taking on and tormenting his defender who just got a touch to give Wroxham an early corner. Huntingdon decided that Doyle was going to be a danger to their defence and brought him down on the edge of the D after he had beaten 2 players with a neat dummy. The free kick was in ideal Simon Lappin territory but on this occasion he shot was wide of the goal.
Huntingdon were still looking like they could create something and Manny Obodou was causing a few palpitations to the Wroxham defence but he was without the final ball.
Cruise Nyadzayo was also causing problems for the Huntingdon defence and he was able to beat two players and shoot towards goal. Daniel Smith managed to get his fingertips to the ball and it went for a corner.
Wroxham were looking dangerous on the attack but there just wasn’t the finish there. A Mac Gee header from a free kick was wide of goal as again the Yachtsmen threatened.
On 22 minutes, the excellent build up play drew reward as Wroxham took the lead. A throw in found Simon Lappin, whose ball to Matt Doyle was controlled and slotted home for the opening goal to the delight of all the players, bench and the supporters who had made the long journey. It was no more than Doyle deserved after his assists this season.
Huntingdon decided that they now needed to get back into the game and Obodo managed to escape the Wroxham defence. His ball across the goal though was poor and there was no one in the area to take advantage.
On 27 minutes, Wroxham had the ball in the Hunters net again. Unfortunately for Chris Skipper, his overhead kick was ruled out by the referee as there had been a previous overhead attempt called a high foot.
In the 30th minute, Wroxham were given a double-scare. Obodo again was the instigator as he beat Smith to see his shot fingered over by Milligan for a corner. A scramble in the area from the corner was cleared off the line as Ashley Drummond got his head to the ball.
The game was becoming a bit niggly as Huntingdon resorted to bringing players down in midfield as the heat was taking its toll. Peter Wiltshire managed to turn and escape his defender before shooting just over the bar.
On 50 minutes, Jordan Bond was getting into the game more. He managed to turn the defence inside out and brought out a save from the Hunters keeper who pushed the ball over the bar. Wroxham had won several free kicks and corners but had not really caused the home team many problems. A Lappin corner was neatly headed on by Gee to find Chris Skipper diving in to head just wide. It was a let-off for Huntingdon but not for long.
In the 54th minute, Wroxham doubled their lead and it was a thing of beauty. Mac Gee played the ball to Matt Doyle. He held off the defender as he advanced towards the area. With a sublime flick, the ball was played back to Josh Pond who side-footed into the net.
Pete Wiltshire was withdrawn on the hour as Jordan Southgate looked to sure-up the game and Joe Keeley entered the play. On 70 minutes, there was almost a magically moment from Cruise Nyadzayo. His initial kick at the ball from 25 yards was a dummy as he missed the ball, but he recovered his composure to hit it and it slammed against the cross-bar.
The hard-working Matt Doyle was the next to make way with Marcus Wilkinson taking his place. Huntingdon probably thought their defence would have a bit of respite with that move, however Wilkinson was going to cause problems down the right. This resulted in fouls on the wide man and subsequent yellow cards for the home side.
On 72 minutes, Huntingdon had their best chance of the afternoon. The player took the ball around Milligan who had advanced. Rather than bring the attacker down, Milligan forced him wide and the Wroxham defence were able to ease the ball out for a corner. From the resulting corner, James Wills was presented with a chance, but he shot wide.
Joe Keeley set up the next chance when he took on the home defence but his cross just evaded the in-rushing Cruise Nyadzayo.
It was only a brief respite for Huntingdon. On 78 minutes, Jordan Bond picked up a ball just inside the Hunters half. With a powerful run that took him into the penalty area, it looked like he would shoot but inside he spotted Josh Pond. A perfect lay-back and Pond was able to slot into the corner of the net to make it 3-0.
In a bizarre moment, Huntingdon made a substitution. Bringing on Player-Manager Daniel Woodhead, it was one of those moments that you see at non-league level. With a physique not built for speed, he proceeded to immediately intimidate Adam Plumstead but elbowing him and then wandered across to follow centre-back Chris Skipper and elbow him. Quite bizarre and what made it even more surreal was neither the referee nor his assistant taking any action.
The incident didn’t cause the Wroxham defence too many issues although the referee’s assistant did appear to mistake the larger player in red for the lithe Adam Plumstead and suggest that Plumstead had elbowed him instead in a later moment. It resulted in just a free kick. Having got away with it before, Woodhead tried again but on this occasion his leading elbow was deemed a foul and he was given a yellow card for his trouble. Perhaps he was fortunate for it to be only a yellow.
In the 86th minute, Wroxham managed to make it 4-0. Marcus Wilkinson easily built the defender and got the ball into Josh Pond in the area. His ball found Joe Keeley who managed to get enough on the ball to nick it into the net. It was no more than the Yachtsmen deserved after their play.
There was still time for Jordan Bond to have two good chances to score. He drifted in from the left and his rasping shot cannoned against the post with the goalkeeper well beaten. In injury time from a Wroxham corner, there was some good interplay down the right which set Bond free. As he got close to goal, the keeper advanced. Bond tried to roll the ball past him but agonizingly the ball ended just wide of the post.
At that point, the referee brought the game to a conclusion and Wroxham advance to the next round. The winners’ now meet Mulbarton in a local derby at Trafford Park on September 15th. Before that though, thoughts now turn to Thetford visiting Trafford Park on Tuesday night.