Mutford & Wrentham 4 Norton Athletic 0
Norton surrender at champions
Norton faced a tough start to the new year in travelling to reigning champions Wrentham. If the game was not already difficult enough after a 3 week break I was also missing Dan MacDonald, Archie Crossan, Sam Martin and Connor Mitchell as well as Ryan Labrum whom has now moved away from the area.
On a bitterly cold and gloomy day and with a very poor pitch it was Wrentham that took the game to Norton from the off quickly exposing the stand in defender Kirk for pace but fortunately the wind was behind Wrentham and the ball was often overhit out of play.
The home side bossed the first 15 minutes and Norton were thankful to stopper Adam Robinson for a fine double save to keep the score goalless however in the 16th minute Norton were exposed again as Kirk miss-judged the flight of the ball allowing the Wrentham player an easy low shot into the far corner for the game’s first goal.
The game was taking on a very scrappy affair, littered with clumsy challenges one of which saw a yellow card for Ben Smith.
Going a goal down however appeared to inject a bit of life into Norton and we started to show more running and eagerness to get forward and Declan Mitchell found the side netting from a very acute angle on the right.
Norton attacked again and this time the ball fell invitingly to Adam Orme whom was central to goal but as he was about to take aim he was pulled down and this looked like a certain penalty, but the referee was having none of it.
Norton were then on the end of another poor refereeing decision which led to the second goal. The ball was diverted out towards the away dug out for a Norton throw but the official awarded in favour of Wrentham whom took a quick throw down the line before crossing into the box. The resultant shot was cleared off the line by Adam Orme but fell favourable to an unmarked Wrentham player who thumped home the rebound for a 2-0 advantage much to Norton’s frustration. Yes, the original decision was wrong, but Wrentham still had work to do before scoring.
To make maters worse Ben Smith then gifted Wrentham a free kick in the D on the edge of the box, nothing malicious but you can’t place your hands on the opposing player in this day and age and with less then 60 seconds of the first half remaining the kick was whacked home top corner for an unsalable 3-0 interval lead to Wrentham.
Norton tried to remain upbeat during half time and knew that we had the wind advantage and could easily get back in the game and in truth we started the half well and saw a 52nd minute Adam Orme free kick well saved by the Wrentham keeper.
With 15 minutes ticking on by we removed Dan Kirk from the field of play and introduced James McElhinney, our summer signing whom unfortunately suffered a nasty knee injury on his preseason debut. Despite plenty of huff and puff from Norton we were not really creating anything clear cut and then a Wrentham counter led to a rib injury for Robinson forcing him to retire early. Dan Kirk went back on this time in goal. By now the signs on any potential comeback had waned and Wrentham added the final fourth goal late on as Burcham helped the ball into the net when trying to clear.
Once again, a very frustrating performance and one of our biggest problems this season has been fielding a consistent side.
The Read Bros MoM goes to James Hardy.
This week Norton travel to Spexhall whom we have not played yet this season.