It seemed winter was finally over at Trafford Park on Saturday, writes Darren Wiseman. The sun was out, and there was warmth in the air! On the drive in Snowdrops were on show, and Wroxham hoped for an equally pleasing home performance. Mid table Haverhill Rovers were the visitors, and they came to the Yachtsmen after a fantastic come back against Gorleston. 3-0 at half time Rovers fought back for a draw, so the home team knew they were in for a spirited fight.
The Yachtsmen lined up with George MacRae in goal, Kieran Smith and Joe Keeley at full back alongside Chris Skipper and Joe Manning in centre defence. In midfield Simon Lappin and Harley Black patrolled the centre with Jordan Bond and Cruise Nyadzayo on the flanks. Up front Nathan Stewart led the line support by Shaun Taylor at number 10.
Referee Mark Ames got the game underway, with Haverhill Rovers kicking off and shooting towards the Kenny Cooke stand. Immediately from the off the visitors tested out Skipper with the pace of their lively forward Sam Bennett playing number 7. It was noticeable that everything went over the top for him to chase early on, so the Yachtsmen back four had to be wary from the start.
It was the home team however who had the first real spell of pressure. All their good work went down the left side, with Keeley linking well with Stewart to get in to the box, but his touch let him down and rovers cleared. Moments later the Yachtsmen earned a corner, but a good delivery from Lappin was put wide by Skipper at the back post. Before 10 minutes were up Taylor and Stewart would also pass up on presentable half chances, but neither could be clinical enough to finish them off.
On 11 minutes, Wroxham nearly paid for their wastefulness. Rovers had a good little spell of possession, but Wroxham won the ball back, and with Lappin on the ball, all looked safe again. But the number 4 dallied too long and Bennett was able to win the ball back, turn and shoot at goal. Fortunately, he missed to the left and the ball on ruffled the side netting.
On 25 minutes, MacRae was just as careless as his colleague. His poor clearance was picked up by number 11 Luke Haines, his effort from 25 yards was heading in but the Wroxham number 1 redeemed himself with an excellent save. The following corner saw MacRae try to punch, but he failed to get any distance, but Keeley and Manning made superb blocks to keep the ball out.
On 30 minutes Wroxham had a good chance. Taylor showed a great touch, then a graceful turn but his powerful shot was just wide.
Wroxham had to be careful in possession as the visitors worked hard all day to win the ball back. On 32 minutes they were caught in possession by the lively Bennett who played in the onrushing striker Mark Lovell, but Joe Manning again landed a perfectly timed tackle to allow MacRae to tidy up in the six yard box.
On 40 minutes Bennett and Lovell combined again, this time their neat inter play released Haines as he was given the freedom of Trafford Park, but his 20 yard effort on goal blazed over the bar. Haverhill Rovers finished the half really firing, and Wroxham did well to stay in it and were happy to hear the half time whistle to regroup.
Wroxham 0 Haverhill Rovers 0
After half time refreshments battle was resumed, and Rovers continued to have the early advantage. Their early free kick was swung into the box, and Captain Sam Holmes rose highest to win the header, but his effort was an easy gather for MacRae. Within a few minutes, midfielder Jake Noble was released for a one on one with MacRae, but the Yachtsmen number one was there to block with his legs, and then punch the following corner away with a solid fist.
On 56 minutes Wroxham made a good chance. Taylor won the ball and played it for Stewart to run on to in competition with Holmes. But Stewart’s curling effort from 25 yards was straight down Rovers keeper James Young’s throat.
Bennett had been lively all day, and his pace was again in evidence. A Wroxham corner was cleared and Bennett was able to beat Black and Smith, but his effort was brilliantly tipped over by MacRae to keep the scores level. The following corner was also dealt with nicely by MacRae, who was having a good day in goal.
On 60 minutes substitute Sonny Carey, fresh from replacing Cruise Nyadzayo, gathered the ball, turned and ran at the Haverhill defence. His low drive was well saved by Young, getting down smartly to turn the ball round his right hand post for a corner.
With 20 minutes to go the pace of the game was building as both teams looked to take advantage of tired legs and minds. Nathan Stewart made a nuisance of himself and he was brought down 25 yards from goal. The resulting Carey free kick was saved, and although a Yachtsmen was first to the rebound this was also bundled away, but as the teams tussled for the ball Rovers gave away another free kick. This one from Carey was parried by Young who then gathered the second ball right on the line, with Harley Black reacting like the ball had gone over the line, but Mr Ames was having none of it.
Wroxham were now well on top, and they nearly combined well to steal a winner. Keeley ran purposefully down the left, crossed to find Taylor at the near post. Taylor was able to get the ball across goal to almost find substitute Matt Doyle, but he was tackled in the six-yard box when he looked ready to pull the trigger. Coming into the last 10 minutes the game was ultra-competitive, but also a little bit fractious.
In dying moments, MacRae nearly made himself the villain of the day. Looking to get Keeley away quickly, his throw was too short and was intercepted by Bennett. Luckily, MacRae had been inspired all afternoon and he was able to come out from his line and block at the number 7’s feet, not once, but twice.
And with that, a tough, competitive and very entertaining game came to an end. You will see many worse goalless draws, but both teams may think they had enough to take the points.
Wroxham visit bottom club Framlingham Town next week, and they will be hoping to come back with all the points to continue a productive season so far.
Wroxham 0 Haverhill Rovers 0
Man of the match George MacRae