Dragons down Clarets with vintage performance
Wivenhoe Town 2 Thetford Town 1
Wivenhoe Town: 1)Louis Hawes 2) Ben Lampon 3) Miguel Nydam 4) Callum Rogers 5) Tim Dennis 6) Ryan Brown 7) Andy Schofield 8) Marley Spindler 9) Ben Parkin 10) Ben Connell© 11) Tyler Rogers (Joe Heron68) Unused Subs: 12) Dan Homeward 14) Luke Goldie-McSorley
Thetford Town: 1) Scott Cruickshank 2) Elliott Smith 3) Luke Bailey 4) Nathan Birch 5) Martin Carter ©6) Shane Leech 7) Ian Fancett (Luke Catchpole 68) 8) Sean O’Donnell 9) James Pipe (Matt Hayden 75) 10) Jordan Rocastle 11) Sam Bryant . Unused Subs: 15) Tom Bryant
Referee: Mr A Crysell
A spirited performance from Wivenhoe saw them come back from a goal behind at The Maple Tree Cars Stadium to deservedly win at home, for only the third time this season.
On a rather grey and chilly Spring afternoon it was Thetford who kicked off towards the dark towers of the university, the clubhouse and the car park. After some initial sparring, Wivenhoe began to press, earning a corner after eight minutes, which carried to the far post where Ben Parkin stretched but could not quite turn the ball in. Two minutes later Ben chased the ball down the right before putting in a low cross, earning a second corner. From the kick the ball was cleared to Ben Lampon on the edge of the penalty area, who hit a scorching, rising drive which looked goal bound, but again it was deflected for a third corner from which Andy Schofield hit a crisp shot from 12 yards, which was blocked and cleared.
Wivenhoe were looking much the better team and it was no surprise therefore, when with 13 minutes gone, Thetford took the lead as Fancett hit an excellent shot from 25 yards which dipped over the unlucky Louis Hawes’ head and under the bar. Happily, however, the goal did not turn the course of the game as Wivenhoe continued to attack and be the better team.
On 17 minutes, Marley Spindler went down the left and beat a player before cutting in and squaring the ball to Ben Connell; Ben was in space, but drew his curling shot wide from 18 yards. A minute later Andy Schofield ran at the defence through the middle before shooting wide from 25 yards. With 21 minutes gone Ben Connell was unlucky to be booked for an innocuous looking challenge on Bryant when all he did was get himself between Bryant and the ball. Referee Mr Crysell evidently saw something in the challenge that those watching from the stands did not.
On the half-hour Thetford had a rare attack, which almost produced a second goal as Fancett drove the ball across the 6 yard box and Rocastle narrowly failed to get a touch, which would surely have diverted the ball into the net. Rocastle then hit a shot from 25 yards which cleared the stand.
After this short interlude, normal service was resumed with Wivenhoe on the attack. A long throw from Miguel Nydam was headed out, but only as far as Andy Schofield on the edge of the box, whose solid drive hit the goalkeeper rather than being saved by him. Ben Connell was following up, but the ball studiously avoided him and it was intensely frustrating to see him unable to turn and hit the ball in when so close to the goal-line. Thetford cleared the ball, but it was crossed back in to the 6 yard box and was met with a firm header from Ben Connell, which Cruickshank pushed onto the crossbar.
With the game approaching the 40 minute mark the Dragons continued to press forward and a spell of sustained possession ended with a 20 yard shot low past the post from Ben Connell. Five minutes before the break Fancett had a shot from 30 yards, which was well held by Louis Hawes before a cross from the left for Wivenhoe saw Ben Parkin head back across the goal and past the post from fully 18 yards. On 43 minutes Fancett produced by far the worst shot of the game as, from 25 yards, he lashed at the ball to send it high over the stand and hurtling towards Rowhedge. The half ended with some good interplay down the right for Wivenhoe, ending with Marley Spindler also shooting over the stand from 20 yards; but at least it was in the direction of the goal.
Stupidly unlucky to be a goal down at half-time, the Dragons began the second half as they had played the first and were quickly on the attack. Three minutes into the half Ben Parkin chased a ball over the top, reaching it just ahead of Cruickshank as it bounced on the edge of the penalty area; Ben headed the ball beyond the goalkeeper, but could not direct it into the goal and it was cleared. The Dragons were quickly on the attack again, however, and when a ball into the box was only partially cleared, Ryan Brown sent a delightful 20 yard shot curling off the inside of the post and into the top corner of the goal for an exquisite equaliser. It was a goal that will live long in the memory for indeed, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Three minutes after the goal a corner to Wivenhoe saw the ball tipped away at the far post by Cruickshank under pressure from Ben Parkin. Four minutes later Ben and Ben Lampon produced some excellent interplay down the left before Ben Lampon hit a low cross which was met by Marley Spindler, but his half volley from 16 yards lacked power and was easily gathered by Cruickshank. Just past the hour Ben Parkin was fouled near the halfway line; Marley took a quick free-kick and sent Ben away charging away towards the goal before the Thetford defence could react. Ben thundered into the box and, as Cruickshank came out to meet him, it looked as though he might shoot, but Ben took the ball around the goalkeeper; frustratingly, in doing so he overran it and the ball went out for a goal kick. It was nevertheless a great run and a smart piece of quick thinking.
On 66 minutes Andy Schofield produced a brilliant solo run down the right hand side, beating 3 or 4 players before eventually taking his run a little bit too far and being dispossessed. Andy’s running down the right hand side was a feature of the match and he was a constant thorn in Thetford’s side. There was brief cause concern on 71 minutes as Rocastle attempted to lob Louis Hawes, but his effort went over the crossbar and Louis had got back to cover his goal in any case. Wivenhoe were soon on the attack again, however, as Joe Heron won a corner and then Ben Lamponh it 30 yard shot, which bobbled wide of the post. The middle 15 minutes of the half was the quietest part of the game and the Wiv lost their momentum a little, but as the game entered its final 10 minutes, the Dragons began to dominate once more.
With about 12 minutes left Ben Parkin once again made progress down the left before hitting a ball to the near post, which was knocked back to Ben Lampon, who was completely free on the edge of the box, but Ben skewed his shot across the face of the goal when he had looked odds-on to score. Another corner was won as a result, but it should have been a goal. But the Dragons were soon attacking down the right hand side again and Ben Lampon got to the by-line before pulling the ball back into the penalty area where it was begging to be struck into the net, but yet again only a corner resulted. A deep cross was then turned away for yet another corner to Wivenhoe before Ben Lampon crossed to Ben Connell at the near post, but his attempted back heel didn’t quite come off and Thetford escaped again.
Finally on 81 minutes came salvation; Ben Lampon crossed the ball from the right and Ben Parkin went up with Cruickshank at the near post, Ben reached the ball ahead of the goalkeeper and as it and the two players fell to the ground Ben was able to get a further touch which saw the ball roll over the line, just inside the post. Overcome with excitement and profoundest, deepest joy, Ben ran to the perimeter wall to be mobbed by the ecstatic SOBs behind the goal along with his teammates. Referee Mr Crysell looked perplexed by the celebrations, but to his credit he didn’t do anything daft, like booking anyone for being happy and showing it.
Shocked perhaps at being behind to bottom of the table Wivenhoe, who everyone expects to beat, the Clarets won a corner with seven minutes to go and Birch got up above everyone else to head the ball past the far post. But Wivenhoe weren’t finished and Andy Schofield made another run down the right two minutes later, before delivering a low cross to Marley Spindler, who in turn laid the ball back to Ryan Brown who deftly clipped the ball narrowly over the crossbar. Within 60 seconds Ben Parkin provided yet another display of tenacity and grit as he wrestled the ball off a defender and held off a challenge before poking the ball beyond the onrushing Cruickshank, but wide of the far post. With two minutes of normal time remaining Andy Schofield again took the ball down the right hand side only to be kicked in the leg by O’ Donnell, who was summarily cautioned for his trouble by Mr Crysell.
With the game entering time added on, Marley Spindler ran into the inside left channel before squaring the ball to Ben Parkin, who was completely unmarked 18 yards from goal; with the goal at his mercy, Ben side-footed the ball wide of the target. Ugh! It was a bad miss and one that the Dragons almost lived to regret, but not before another cross to the far post saw Marley Spindler jump with Cruickshank and head the ball narrowly wide of the post. But then, deep into time added on, Leech went forward into the box for Thetford and only a last ditch tackle by Miguel Nydam prevented what could easily have been a decisive effort on goal. The danger was still not over however, and from the resultant corner kick the towering Carter got up above everyone else to head wide. But after that Mr Crysell blew for time and the Dragon’s joy was unfettered.
Wivenhoe always looked the better team throughout this match and they could and should have won by four or five goals. Everyone played their part and it was a great team performance, but Ben Parkin, Andy Schofield, Ben Lampon, Ryan Brown were all absolutely outstanding. Mention must also be made of the fact that there were two 16-year-olds in the Dragons starting line-up. Louis Hawes had a fine debut in goal showing flawless handling and kicking whilst Tyler Rogers showed the commitment that the supporters value and he continues to mature with every game.
In truth, Thetford were not great, but Wivenhoe showed the desire and resolve to beat them. If this performance can be reproduced in the remaining four games there is every chance the Dragons will avoid finishing bottom of the table and they may even do better than that. Believe in Dragons! …on the basis of this performance the team clearly do. Up The Wiv!