Fenmen miss a golden chance after Vase loss

Steve Appleby said his side missed a golden opportunity to progress into the last 16 on Saturday after they threw away a two-goal lead and slid to defeat in the FA Vase fourth round after extra time.

The Fenmen were 2-0 up at the break via early goals from Deakan Napier and Dubi Ogbonna, but the hosts levelled to take the game into the extra 30 minutes.

Midfielder Steven Reid collected his second yellow card to receive his marching orders in the extra period. Gornal wrapped up the tie thanks to goals from Lee Wherton, Chris Rabone, Curtis Tilt and top scorer Marvin Nisbett to secured a trip to Cornwall side Bodmin Town next Saturday for a place in the quarter-finals.

Appleby said: “I have got to be honest knowing what we can produce, we missed a massive opportunity – that’s why I am so gutted – but on the day the better team won.

“We’ve only got ourselves to blame after in the first seven or eight minutes we were 2-0 up, and at half-time, without playing well.

“In the second half we did everything we said we wouldn’t do. I am the first one to defend my players but only a few of them could hold their heads up.”

Napier converted a simple finish after a mistake by the Peacocks keeper. On six minutes Ogbonna broke the offside trap, beat a defender and scored the visitors’ second.

Appleby added: “We got a special start and a perfect start but I didn’t ever think we’d win things with just that.

“I just feel sorry for the chairman and supporters because we let them down.”

Although the situation was the same for both sides, Appleby refused to blame the lack of match practice due to the recent big freeze: “I’m not going to sit here and make excuses.

“If we had played it when we should have done (this tie was twice-postponed) I think we would have had a better chance. It is going to hurt for a long time.”

On Reid’s sending-off, which had little bearing on the game: “I have no complaints. I feel sorry for the lad as he’s had one of his best-ever games for the club. He was up for it, he was leading us, he was competitive.

“He got punished for two tackles. Steve is honest enough to admit it, but I wouldn’t want to take that back from his game. I am not going to blame the lad because he was one of our best players.”

A penalty early in the second half reduced the arrears for the Peacocks and Appleby remarked: “The penalty was supposedly for a bit of a push by Neal Spafford. It was very, very soft and it got them back in the game.”

The Fenmen felt the absence of the suspended front man Chris Bacon in the latter stages as there was no-one to hold-up the ball as possession kept returning to the hosts.

Appleby said: “Dubi and Deakan destroyed them for the first 20 minutes, but then the game got more physical and long-ball. ‘Baces’ would have helped then, but what was good enough for the first 20 minutes should have been good enough for the 90.

“We knew they held a high line but in the second half the ball was just going from back to front rather than going through the midfield.

“Football is a wonderful game but it can be a cruel game as well.”

Wisbech: Jordan, Fairweather (McGeorge), Johnson, Cousins, Cartwright, Reid, Millson, Lunn (Gale), Spafford (Reeve), Ogbonna, Napier. Not used: Friend, Roberts.

l Midfielders Rogan McGeorge and Deakan Napier were yesterday released by the club with immediate effect.

A statement on the club forum said: “Apps wanted to stress that the decision to let these players go was not for budgetary reasons and had nothing to do with the club’s exit from the FA Carlsberg Vase at the weekend.”

The future of former midfielder Callum Reed, who is back training at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium, will be decided this week.

Appleby said: “Callum will be training with us on Tuesday.

“After Tuesday he either will be at the club or he won’t.”

Appleby says the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title race is still wide open as the side now ‘concentrates on the league’ at home to Haverhill Rovers, who are one place and two points behind.

Sixth-spot Wisbech then travel on Tuesday for the re-arranged match at 14th place Ely City.

He said: “The league title is still on, big time.

Everyone is beating each other and it is not impossible to do by any means.”

The club are still monitoring the situation on King’s Lynn midfielder Jamie Thulbourne.