Wisbech Town 0,
Kettering Town 0
THE Fenmen gave a superb account of themselves on Saturday in their plum FA Cup with Budweiser first qualifying round tie at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium.
Despite facing a side from two leagues higher they shaded the second half and had the better chances, including two glorious ones either side of half-time.
A proud Wisbech Town boss Steve Appleby said: “I thought the lads have done magnificently. We have matched a team from two leagues higher, regardless of their money problems.
“The players they have put out are good players – they are sharp, and we just have had to match them. You’ve seen that there are two contrasting styles: we like to get the ball down and Kettering are more direct.
“We have had them watched and worked on a few things, made sure we pick up the pieces and that we can play. To be honest, we could have and should have won the game.
“We had more chances than they did and probably if we were just a bit sharper in and around the box we could have won.”
Evostik Southern League Premier Kettering – whose assistant boss Dean Greygoose is an ex-King’s Lynn goalkeeper – had the first effort in the second minute, Will Blazio drawing a low save from stopper Lea Jordan.
However the hosts made a bright start, with the returning Chris Bacon dispossessing Oscar Radford, and his shot was desperately blocked by Ben Gearing for a corner in the seventh minute.
Bacon’s strike partner Dubi Ogbonna, who also came back from injury for this tie, used his pace to reach a long ball, cut inside to the edge of the box and his shot was parried by keeper Laurie Walker, but Bacon could not get to the rebound.
The Fenmen had to withstand Kettering’s most sustained spell of pressure around the 20-minute mark. Rob Peake followed up a free-kick but Scott Johnson was there to clear off the home line.
Radford’s long throws were a real threat, and David Mayo somehow missed a glorious opportunity, which escaped via Jon Fairweather and the post.
Skipper Paul Cousins had a header cleared off the line at an Adam Millson corner by Radford, with the ball perhaps going inches wide anyway, while Steven Reid fiercely shot just over the bar from 25 yards.
On the stroke of the break Bacon and Ogbonna fashioned a break which ended with the latter tamely firing at the goalkeeper.
At half-time the Poppies threw on pacy and tricky Joel Gyasi, who proved to be their best player. But the Fenmen had the first corner and first chance, Reeve heading over.
Gearing was booked for an early foul, as was Anthony Reeve late in the second half.
Ogbonna had the best opportunity to settle the tie in the 56th minute, a neat one-two with Bacon allowing him to race clear but he scuffed somewhat into the side netting with Bacon available at the far post.
Wisbech kept probing but lacked the final killer ball or composed shot, Neal Spafford an example of this as he volleyed well wide.
The visitors showed little in the closing action apart from blazing over a couple of times. Then Ed Palmer fed Blazio whose effort was superbly blocked by Cousins with ten minutes left. Shortly afterwards a Gearing header looped over the home bar.
With the clock ticking towards a replay, Millson’s free-kick and resulting knock-on had to expertly dealt with by the well-positioned Walker, while Matt Lunn could not connect with his strike properly and should have done better.
Appleby continued: “Dubi Ogbonna missed a couple of chances and he lacked a bit of sharpness but get Dubi on the ball and he is fantastic – that’s why he was worth a gamble. Today hasn’t gone for him, but he was part of a team that deserved at least a draw, in my opinion.
“We got blocks in and were doing the ugly side of football.
“We were prepared to run at people and we played some nice football.
Wisbech: Jordan, Spafford, Johnson, Cousins, Fairweather, Reeve, Bacon, Millson, Ogbonna, Reid, Lunn. Sub used: Gale. Att: 527.