University side teach Wisbech St Mary a lesson in concentration - but scoreline rough on visitors
UEA 3,Wisbech St Mary 0
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League First Division North
The wait for that elusive first victory of the season goes on for the Saints after defeat at Dereham this afternoon in a game that was a lot tighter than the scoreline suggests.
Strikes in the first minute of each half undone the organised and competitive visitors, with a final minute own goal merely rubbing salt into the wounds.
But, despite another defeat, there are reasons for the Saints to be cautiously optimistic. When manager Paul Hunt came in back in October, the Purples had just been thrashed 11-0 at Norwich CBS.
That kind of defeat is not being dished out any more as Hunt has the side well trained and keeping a good shape. He has a decent blend in the team too, with teenagers such as impressive young keeper Tyler Key and hard working right back Ben Smith alongside old heads like captain and centre back Jordan Goult, midfielder Michael Chow and striker Karl Tansley.
With the manager viewing this as a long-term project, top of his shopping list for next season, however, will be a creator and a goal scorer, as Saints failed to do enough with plenty of possession against play-off chasing opponents.
But while it is difficult to get players to Beechings Close with the side bottom of the league, Hunt is well known and respected at this level and should be able to add to the squad come the summer.
St Mary made the worst possible start this afternoon, a flowing move from the impressive young home side catching the home defence cold and seeing Jenson Bark slot home in the opening minute.
Earlier in the season, heads would have gone down and that early strike would have been an invitation for an onslaught. Not now, though, and Saints had their fair share of possession for the rest of the half and several times were just the right final ball away from creating serious problems for the home team.
But it was the same story after the break, with UEA once again scoring in the opening minute when a corner was headed home powerfully by Archie Smith.
Striker Tansley was then substituted after feeling the effects of a recent Covid bout that also saw Aaron McKenna consigned to the bench and Andy Willmott play while not fully fit. Left back Kyle Bird played despite only recently recovering from long Covid,while youngster Harvey Pepper didn't feature at all after recently contracting the virus.
The visitors kept going after conceding the second, though, and kept trying to attack, their best chance seeing Kane Baker thwarted by a good save from the onrushing home keeper after a great through ball by Willmott.
The final goal came in the 90th minute when a great cross from the left by Rohan Bunger was turned into his own goal by Saints defender Callum Robinson,with a striker lurking at the far post.
The final scoreline was tough on Saints, but that win will come and, under Hunt, there are far better days to come.
Wisbech St Mary: T Key, Smith, Bird, Goult, Robinson, Baker (A Key 80 mins), Willmott, Chow, Tansley (McKenna 50), Brooke (Williams 53), Jose.
Star man: Ben Smith – the 16-year-old was competitive from the first whistle to the last and has a very bright future ahead of him.