Tough season comes to a finale with defeat
After a tough season with many disruptions, Wroxham succumbed to another defeat to finish 23rd in the league.
After a tough season with many disruptions, Wroxham succumbed to another defeat to finish 23rd in the league. The Yachtsmen were relegated in the season that saw them celebrate 125 years since formation.
It was the same old story for Wroxham at home to high flying Thurrock, but at least they go down swinging writes Darren Wiseman.
Coming to Trafford Park this season has at times felt like a leap of faith. If you went every week you would have seen 4 home wins this season, the last one way back on the 21st of January. Despite this, the Yachtsmen have always given everything, and today was no different. Just a lack of real quality, and the occasional decision made has regularly meant finishing a Saturday afternoon or midweek evening with nothing to show for no little effort.
On a sunny but fresh April afternoon the Yachtsmen welcomed highflying Thurrock for one final hurrah at home in a season that many would like to forget. Harley Lemmon retained his spot in goal, with Jack Guyton and Tom Rampling playing as the full backs in his back four. Steffano Mallardo and Matt Halliday shored up the middle, with Blake Saker making a start as a holding midfielder. In midfield were Ben Lewis and Shaun Taylor with Craig Bussens, Ben Fowkes and Ross Gilfedder making up a fluid front 3.
Thurrock kicked off towards the Kenny Cooke stand in all yellow with green trim, with their fans looking akin to a small Norwich City touring party. The first ten minutes had a real end of season feel to it as neither side could muster a decent chance, but Wroxham worked hard to nullify their play-off bound visitors.
On 12 minutes Thurrock won a free kick and immediately tested young Lemmon in goal. The delivery, like most all day was put right under the cross bar in a congested penalty area, with on this occasion the Fleet's captain Richard Halle channelling his inner wrestler to send the keeper sprawling. The ball was cleared, but the young keeper was sprawled out in his goal and took a while to get back to his feet having been winded. With his goal was intact, Lemmon grew into the game well, despite having to make his clearances into the strong breeze.
Ben Fowkes produced probably his best first half performance of the season. His skill to turn and pass to Bussens allowed the busy winger to try and get a cross in from a dangerous area but his cross was blocked for a corner. The corner was eventually dealt with, but the front 3 were occasionally getting some joy against the play-off hopefuls. Moments after his initial skill, Fowkes drew a foul in Tom Rampling territory, and although the full back was able to get his effort over the wall and down again, he missed the target with the keeper Bobby Mason apparently confident he had the effort covered.
The Yachtsmen were producing a competitive performance. Captain Ben Lewis kept this going on 20 minutes. He played a lovely ball down the left to release Ross Gilfedder, who beat his man to break into the Thurrock penalty area, but he seemed undecided as to whether to pass or shoot and after the delay his attempted shot was dealt with. Wroxham were really going for it now, and when Bussens crossed in from the right moments later, Ben Fowlkes attempted a kind of Scorpion kick that went over the bar.
On 30 minutes the boys in blue made the best chance so far. A corner from the right was won in the box by Blake Saker who played out to Bussens. His effort on the volley was tipped over well by Bobby Mason.
Thurrock were still good in possession, but they lacked an edge. David Cowley caused havoc on 35 minutes in the Wroxham area when his swirling cross was allowed to bounce, and two attackers missed the ball, somehow allowing Rampling to come away with the ball. Wroxham had their warning, and they doubled their efforts to be tougher in defence.
Wroxham had the best chance of the whole half just before the break. Gilfedder worked himself free in the area, and from just outside the 6 yard box pinged the ball across the goal. A Thurrock defender was able to get a vital deflection on the pass as the ball evaded all the on rushing attackers and went just wide of the far post.
As the half came to a close, you felt Wroxham deserved to be ahead, but their season long issue of scoring enough goals was again haunting them.
The second half got underway and it was very cagey. Bussens had an early half chance, but his effort was blocked and it went high and wide. At the other end, Thurrock sub Michael Pindy was played through but Lemmon was alive to the danger and he was able to rush out and deal with the throughball.
Wroxham were really doing themselves proud in a tight contest. Bussens, Rampling and Saker all producing strong performances as they frustrated their high flying visitors.
Thurrock responded by getting all their replacements on by the hour mark. They then had a real concerted period of pressure. This culminated with a great through ball that sent Mark Onyemah through, and as Lemmon rushed out he as able to get round the keeper and get to the byline. He centred to Pindy, who took a touch and the finished smartly. Questions were raised as to whether there was an off-side in the initial move but the referee was un-moved and his assistant equally ignorant of any protest. A familiar feel enveloped the Trafford Park faithful. Good performance, but apparently no reward. But the Yachtsmen showed great character as they kept going, and produced their best move of the day.
Ben Fowkes beat the full back and got the ball into Shaun Taylor in the area. Space suddenly appeared for him as he opened himself up about ten yards from goal but the midfielder's curling effort just went agonisingly wide of the far post.
On 75 minutes Thurrock responded with a thumping drive from sub Jack Barham from outside the area. It dipped and swerved but Harley Lemmon was able to punch the ball away.
Wroxham were still in the game. A great cross field ball to Gilfedder from Bussens was indicative of how Wroxham were still probing in a game they were still right in the mix of getting something out of.
But unfortunately all these hopes were about to be snuffed out. Pindy chased the ball down the channel and worked the ball across the box, where man of the match David Cowley pinged a pass to Jack Barham. According to varying reports he was half a yard, to six yards offside, but he was so alone he took a touch and powered the ball home. Wroxham looked at each other, and then the referee's assistant, but the referee had signalled for a goal. Mallardo expressed his amazement to the referee in such a way, he earned himself a yellow card but the game was resolved.
Wroxham made all 3 substitutions in one go with Gilfedder, Bussens and Fowkes all replaced by Rogers, Attree and Amisi but the game fizzled out despite this impetus.
So the Yachtsmen have to kick their heels over the summer to wait for their fate. Thurrock will go again in the playoffs to see which level they will be at next season.