Hard work but little quality as Fenmen draw against average opposition
Wisbech Town 1, Glossop North End 1
Northern Premier League south east division
Inconsistent Wisbech failed to impress for the second consecutive home match as they passed up the opportunity to claim three valuable league points against fellow strugglers Glossop this afternoon.
Boss Seb Hayes put out what was on paper a really attacking line up against The Hillmen but he and assistant manager Kevin Ward cut frustrated figures in the dugout as their young charges failed to impose themselves on the match.
Time and time again moves broke down after the second or third pass and, with little quality in the final third, the lack of defensive midfielders in the team was all too evident when the ball came back at them. When they did get into attacking positions, too often players passed on the ball rather than taking responsibility themselves. Hopefully injured midfielder Jon Kaye will improve things when he returns next week, while fellow midfielder Ollie Gale is still at least four weeks from playing.
With left back Liam Marshall starting in central defence and Jurelle Philip taking his position, Hayes changed the shape of the team two or three times during the afternoon to nullify the threat from the visitors and, in truth, if they had more quality in attack themselves, it could have been a repeat of the defeat to Stocksbridge in the last game at the Elgoods Fenland Stadium.
The home defence struggled to defend set pieces too and even three second half substitutions failed to make an impact as they managed just two efforts on target against poor opposition.
After the game, manager Hayes told the Fenland Citizen: "We battled but we didn't play well, we worked reasonably hard and we got a point. But we didn't work hard in the right places. No disrespect to Glossop but this was two points lost. They are the worst side we've played in this league all season.
"We only had two shots on target and we scored from one of them so we'll take that as a positive. And we'll take two league defeats in seven as another positive. Our back four stuck at it and kept us in the game.
"The players are giving us what they can but we are frustrated with the inconsistency. We only made two changes from last week (narrow FA Trophy defeat at Kidsgrove) when we played a much better team and I think today we were only at 20 per cent of that level. So when you play like that you cannot expect to win. For the last 15 minutes I was just hoping something would go our way. When you're playing sides around you, you've got to beat them.
"We've under-performed at home again and that worries me. Many of our away performances have been brilliant but we are not doing it here. I just cannot understand how we can go from playing so well with the ball to playing really badly.
"Everyone told me so much about this league but I haven't seen it yet. I think, if we got in the two or three players we need and they improve us, we can move up the league. I don't fear any team in this league. If we can add some players with more quality and experience I think we could easily be comfortable in mid-table. But we've got to go and prove it."
Before kick-off, a minute's silence was held in memory of long time supporter Trevor Kiddle, who passed away recently.
Wisbech started slowly, as against Stocksbridge, and striker Braulio Maeico tested Sam Wilson in the home goal after just two minutes. And after eight minutes the visitors took the lead when Jordyn Fitton rose unopposed to head home Bevan Burey's pinpoint cross from the right.
The Fenmen were soon level, however, when Declan Rogers curled in a delightful free-kick and Marshall equalised with a towering header after 16 minutes.Home keeper Wilson saved magnificently to deny a powerful, close range headed effort from Porya Ahmadi after 26 minutes and the rest of the half was uneventful.
After the break it was Glossop who started on the front foot, with Burey firing wide after pinball in the box following a corner. Fenmen captain Sam Spencer then blocked a Jake Tuohy drive bravely with a low header before Spencer made another superb stop to deny Ahmadi from ten yards.
With 20 minutes remaining, Fitton's shot for the visitors deflected wide. And then Wisbech had their first chance of the half but, with set piece specialist Danny Setchell at the ready, it was Marshall who cleared the bar with a 20-yard free kick after substitute Oli Shackleton was unfairly bundled off the ball.
New signing from Peterborough Sports Antonio Jaquite came on after 82 minutes and went close at the death when he turned and fired low from close range, only for Glossop keeper Dale Latham to make his first save of the day.
And there was nearly a grandstand finish the game didn't deserve when Jaquite was fouled in the box in the fifth and final minute of extra time. But although referee Shaun Gregory initially gave a penalty, the striker had not checked his run and was rightly flagged offside and the spot kick decision reversed.
Hayes revealed how hard he is working to strengthen his small squad: "I was on the phone until 11pm on Friday and I have been all week. I've been speaking to Kev (assistant manager Kevin Ward) ten times a day. We need to get players into the club in every position. My life is spent on the phone at the moment.
"We're even involved with a non-league agent who is working hard helping us. I have exhausted every single contact I've got. We have a new centre half training on Monday and if we can get him in that's going to be a big signing. I've spoken to him. I've agreed a deal."
Wisbech: Wilson, Whyatt, Philip, Hart (Richardson 53 mins), Marshall, Spencer, Maddison, Setchell, Earps, Rogers (Jaquite 82), Nassunculo (Shackleton 74).
Glossop: Latham, Wilshaw, Coulibaly, Tuohy, Mwakova, Matthews, Ekpolo, Burey, Ahmadi, Maeico, Fitton. Subs (not used): Hibbert, West, Mason, Sheriff.
Referee: Shaun Gregory (Peterborough).
Goals: Jordyn Fitton (Glossop, 11 mins), Liam Marshall (Wisbech, 16 mins).
Bookings: Wisbech - Sam Spencer (handball), Danny Setchell (foul). Glossop - Bakari Coulibaly (foul).
Star man: Liam Marshall - switched from left back to centre back and put in a really good performance, including scoring the equalising goal.
Who's next: Cleethorpes Town (H), league, next Saturday.
More by this authorJeremy Ransome