Wroxham visited Hadleigh United for what on paper, it would seem like a facile win. As everybody knows, football is played on grass rather than the pulp of wood, writes Aston Cosford.
With a lush and perfect surface that was different to most of the pitches encountered this season, hopes were high. Unfortunately, it would prove to be a day that all connected to the club would look back on with more than a hint of wonder. The main wonder being how would referee Karl Sear have approached the game had he not been under assessment. As it was, he was not relaxed and fair official in his decision making and wanted to be involved in the game far more than some of those who wore a shirt with a number on the back.
Lining up with Connor Milligan in goal, a defence of Kieran Smith, Mac Gee, Adam Plumstead and Chris Skipper. In midfield Simon Lappin was pulling the strings, alongside Josh Pond and Jordan Bond whilst the attack consisted of Pete Wiltshire, Marcus Wilkinson and Cruise Nyadzayo. Harley Black was back in the matchday squad after suspension with Isaac Burrage, Joe Keeley and newcomer Damon Cooper on the bench.
Hadleigh United started the game on fire as Kyle Cassel slipped through the defenders but drew the ball just wide of the far post, under pressure from the retreating Wroxham defence. Rose for Hadleigh was not in a good mood, an early tussle with Wiltshire, he was very lucky to get away without a card. He’s definitely not one to annoy. That’s for sure. The lack of card was somewhat surprising given Mr Sear’s later interventions.
A few quick breaks for Wroxham, which seemed to be the only few of the game. A strong header from Wiltshire struck the top of the woodwork but the flag went up for offside. Both teams had started with a mindset to score plenty of goals, three points needed for both teams for different reasons.
Following a goal mouth scramble, which was cleared by the Wroxham defence, Hadleigh found themselves one nil ahead. In the 26th min, Cassell was picked out too easily in the Wroxham penalty area and he slotted home past Milligan who had been left exposed.
The Yachtsmen were second best and, in a game, punctuated by the whistle of the referee, frustrations were clear. It was at this point that Karl Sears decided to make the afternoon his own and to make sure that the assessor had plenty to discuss with him after the final whistle. Josh Pond was fouled just inside the Hadleigh half. A quick hand on the ball and an equally quick free kick was stopped by Mr Sears whistle. After a brief chat with the player that had committed the foul, the referee insisted that the ball was two yards away from where he wanted the free kick to be taken from. This prompted a reaction from Simon Lappin. After a discussion between player and referee, he again blew his whistle. Much to the amazement of those watching the referee produced a red card. After the game, the reason for the straight red card was still a mystery as the referee refused to disclose what had been said. Whilst we have the player’s view, we do not have the referee’s and from that one can only draw their own conclusion.
Hadleigh were destined to make it 2-0 before the break but somehow their attacker missed a glancing header from a yard out. It was likely because the ball had too much pace on it but nevertheless a bad miss for Hadleigh. With the need to bring a playmaker into the midfield area, Jordan Southgate opted to withdraw Nyadzayo for Harley Black. The referee ending a very stressful period of play for the Yachtsmen.
Following the whistle for the start of the second half, Wroxham should’ve drawn level as a three on one attack was constructed. Jordan Bond played the ball across goal for Keeley, but it was slightly behind the player and he couldn’t regain control of the ball.
With the assessor in the stand on the far side of the pitch, referee Karl Sears made his way across to his assistant on the near touchline. Whilst many wondered what decision he would make on this occasion, it transpired that he just wanted to take the red and yellow cards and notebook from his colleague as he had left his in the dressing-room during the half-time break.
Milligan shortly after went down in pain after he made a great block to deny Cassell from finding a second goal of the game. It was a great save from the young keeper, absorbing all the shot’s power very effectively.
Cassell was making the difference for Hadleigh, his exploding pace allowed him able to power past Gee with ease. Nearly all the home side’s attacks were created and built around him.
Speaking of Cassell, he managed to glide past Gee way too easily, he slung the ball in to find Makris at the back post to calmly head in a second goal. Wroxham had fallen apart and the goal was well deserved for Hadleigh. Just to sum up the terrible day for Wroxham, Hadleigh made it three nil. Cassell managed to get to the ball in the goalmouth scramble following a corner and the impressive player was able to tap in the goal that would see off any chance of a Wroxham comeback. It was harsh on Milligan who had twice denied Hadleigh in the play from point-blank range. This was then followed by a further fingertip save from Milligan as he wanted to show that Wroxham still fight to the end and don’t give up.
Overall, a disappointing performance from Wroxham and in a game that had not been free-flowing thanks to over-officiating. The winning streak was put to bed by a three-nil loss at Hadleigh. On to next week, for another derby day in the FA Vase. Mulbarton are the visitors to Trafford Park on Saturday afternoon.