Wisbech 3, Ashford 1
Wisbech are through to the HA Trophy semi-finals for the third time running after this resounding win against the Middlesex side on Sunday.
They will now travel to meet Gateshead in the last four and James Sheppard’s team have never lost at this stage of the competition before having reached the finals in 2001 and 2002.
In a rematch of the 2002 semi-final Wisbech met Ashford and the game again proved a thriller. Ten years ago Wisbech had won but they made the worst possible start this time.
Ashford started the game and almost immediately won a short corner which they converted to give themselves the lead with barely a minute on the clock.
Wisbech took control from that point. Brad Apted was playing deeper than usual after the exertions of the day before and was pulling the strings for Wisbech.
He and Sam Blunt forced good saves from the Ashford keeper before a rebound fell to Gavin Johnstone who hit the ball home.
Wisbech took a deserved lead before the break. The ball was shifted back to Johnstone at a short corner and he took his time and placed his shot above the advancing keeper.
After a solid start to the second half Wisbech were visibly tiring and the game was starting to become scrappy. The heavy rain was taking its toll on everyone and a few substitutions gave Wisbech fresh impetus. Ed Hutley came on and made several important interceptions and tackles.
Johnstone’s third goal put the game beyond Ashford. He slotted the ball into the corner from the top of the circle after a good cross from Joe Melton.
Apted and Blunt both went close with reverse stick shots but Wisbech had done enough to win. Their midfield of Johnstone, Aaron Cobb and Matthew Levanda had been superb throughout.
Sheppard, Jon Shippey and Apted are the only three players left from that glorious day and all played in the two finals that Wisbech lost, but Sheppard is hoping for third time lucky this time.
“We played very well on Sunday and, after going behind to a very early goal, we dominated the game. Aaron Cobb had perhaps his best game and Gavin Johnstone scored a very good hat-trick.
“We can now look forward to a very good game at Gateshead and hopefully to make it to the final for a third time.”