Dragons net last gasp point to leave Bloaters ‘gutted’
Great Yarmouth Town 2 Wivenhoe Town 2
Great Yarmouth: 1) Ben Cudden 2)Nathan Kemp 3)Leighton Crux 4)Danny Burkle 5)Sam Giacomelli (Marian Jobaggy 71) 6) Jordan Forbes 7) Charlie Merton 8) George Barnden 9) Russell Platten (Alex Davies 88) 10) Lee Henwood 11) Fernando Vide. Unused Subs: 15) Simeon Lee 16) Neil Hurren 17) David Hackleton
Wivenhoe Town: 1) Adam Wilding 2) Tom Moore (Aaron Peck 71) 3) Lewis Ayton (Luke Rogers 38) 4) Ryan Brown 5) Tom Cutts 6) Ben Parkin 7) TJ Amass 8)Liam Dadds 9) Ben Licence 10) Ben Connell 11) Ray Catchpole (Mike Schofield 56). Unused Sub: 12) Jake Hearn.
A remarkable final five minutes at The Wellesley saw Wivenhoe Town come back from the dead to grab what had seemed an unlikely point in a mostly uninspiring performance. A keen and sharp Great Yarmouth team had dominated the first half after Burnden had given them the boost of a goal after just three minutes. It was a blustery afternoon and the injury-hit Dragons seemed unable to get to grips with the conditions and often floundered on the slippery and bobbly pitch; consequently they rarely threatened the Bloaters’ goal.
It was the Bloaters who kicked off, playing towards the Pleasure Beach and they showed their intent straightaway passing the ball well and producing a shot, albeit one that went as close to the Wellington pier as it did the goal, before the Dragons even touched the ball. This should have been a warning to Wivenhoe but it went unheeded and an unchallenged run down the right ended with a deep cross to Platten who pulled the ball back for the incoming Barnden whose shot deflected into the roof of the net from about eight yards to give Yarmouth a very early lead.
The optimistic view that this early goal would simply give the Dragons more time to hit back soon evaporated as Wivenhoe struggled to play any decent football and Yarmouth looked much the better side. On 17 minutes a plastic carrier bag blew on to the pitch and four minutes later the alluring smell of bacon wafted up into the beautiful Grade II listed Victorian grandstand from the tea hut. But then, just as I might have been losing interest Ben Parkin had Wivenhoe’s first shot on goal, though sadly it was very high and very wide, although in his defence it was from a long way out. Ben was taking the game to Yarmouth on his own at this stage and two minutes later made a run into the penalty area and sent in a knee high cross; debutant Lewis Ayton swung a leg at the ball but failed to connect and the ball was cleared.
The Dragons first vaguely decent attack spurred the Bloaters into action and Platten played Merton into a good position on the right, but he pulled his shot beyond the far post. With 25 minutes gone Yarmouth earned the games’ first corner which was cleared to the edge of the box from where Platten shot over the crossbar. Four minutes later Wivenhoe won their first corner as a TJ Amass long throw was deflected out. Ray Catchpole then galloped down the left flank before shooting; his effort was only parried by ‘keeper Cudden, but what looked like a corner turned out to be a goal kick. Puzzling. The Dragons second corner did come just after the half hour however, as Ben Licence’s cross was blocked. Tom Moore played the ball in and it was cleared, but only to the edge of the box from where Ben volleyed very loosely in the direction of the off shore gas rigs.
With a little more than five minutes until half time it was Tom Cutts turn to charge forward with a surging run down the left, but his resulting cross ran across the face of the goal untouched by human feet. The last third of the half had seen Wivenhoe getting into the game more as the wind died down a little and the 40th minute saw Cudden forced to make his first real save of the game as he fell at the feet of the returning Luke Rogers to smother the ball.
Wivenhoe’s second half performance was much improved and the first ten minutes of the half saw Ben Connell turn and shoot over the bar from 18 yards and then attempt to back heel a Ben Licence cross goalwards, before TJ Amass had a firm low shot saved well by Cudden, who then leapt well to claim a deep cross from a TJ free-kick. With 58 minutes gone a chaotic melee in the Bloaters’ goal mouth ended with Ben Connell shooting over the bar when any shot on target could well have gone in. It came as a bit of body blow therefore when just before the hour the ball ran through a crowded Wivenhoe box to Merton, who doubled Yarmouth’s lead, rounding Adam Wilding to score from close range.
The Dragons responded by earning their first corner of the second half a couple of minutes later, from which Ben Connell’s header was deflected over the bar. Three minutes after that TJ Amass tried his luck from the edge of the box but shot wide and then a similar fate befell a shot from Tom Moore, whilst Ryan Brown volleyed high over the bar towards Gorleston.
Although Wivenhoe were now on top they were not threatening the Bloaters’ goal enough until on 73 minutes Luke Rogers was fouled 25 yards from goal. TJ Amass proceeded to send a an excellent free kick arching over the defensive wall towards the top right hand corner of Cudden’s goal; but Cudden was equal to it, pulling off a spectacular save as he leapt, more like a flying fish than a salmon, to palm the ball away.
What goal attempts there were, were now all coming from Wivenhoe, although in truth most failed to trouble Cudden and Great Yarmouth and their supporters had every reason to be confident that they would gain only their second win of the season as the clock ran down. To emphasis the point, with only three minutes left of normal time a scuffed shot from TJ Amass fell to Mike Schofield as he ran in on Cudden looking for a rebound, Mike reacted quickly to get in a shot, but Cudden saved with his legs.
With just two minutes of normal time remaining, there seemed little prospect of Wivenhoe getting anything from the game. But then, as the prospect of a joyless 75 mile drive home loomed, a TJ Amass free-kick was knocked down to Ben Connell who tapped the ball in from close range. Possibly sensing fear in a Yarmouth side who drew 2-2 on Boxing Day after conceding a last minute goal, the Dragons pushed forward deep into time added on, and when TJ Amass’s shot was blocked, Ben Connell was again on hand to score; this time hooking the ball past the on-rushing Cudden from the edge of the box.
There was still time to re-start and for Davies to hit the Dragons’ cross bar with a dipping and swerving shot, or was it a cross? Had the game lasted another two minutes there is every chance Wivenhoe would have scored again, but they can be grateful to have gained the single point on this occasion.
Back at 3 o’clock a draw with the Bloaters might have looked like a poor result, but in the end it proved to be a good one, although the two points dropped meant that Wivenhoe remain below Walsham le Willows in the table, albeit on goal difference.