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Wisbech still a work in progress after friendly win at Holbeach

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Wisbech Town were given what manager Brett Whaley described as "a good workout" against Step 5 opponents Holbeach United in their latest pre-season friendly on Saturday.

An own goal by Holbeach midfielder Joe Smith was followed up with a cool finish by Avelino Vieira, who latched onto a Danny Draper lay-off from a Jack Gurney cross, to put the Fenmen in control before half-time.

But injuries to Vieira and Kennelly, as well as the chance to try out new signing Thabani Nkobi at centre half, meant Whaley was balanced in his assessment of his side's win at Holbeach where they took on a side who play in the United Counties League Premier Division.

Action from Holbeach United v Wisbech Town in pre-season friendly action at Carter's Park. Photo by Chris Lowndes. (41047553)
Action from Holbeach United v Wisbech Town in pre-season friendly action at Carter's Park. Photo by Chris Lowndes. (41047553)

Whaley said: "We're still a little bit disjointed because we're still a new side and so obviously it takes a bit of time.

"I thought that in patches we were really good and in patches we just lacked a little bit of composure.

"The boys need to learn to play together and Dylan Edge wasn't here today.

"Then we got Ave Vieira going off injured so we had to put people in positions you probably wouldn't do normally in league fixtures.

"But it was good workout against a good, physical team who'll put you under pressure and play very similar to the sides in our league."

Up to 80 fans were back inside Carter's Park to see Wisbech take control over Holbeach after an opening period when the two teams got the measure of each other.

The friendly saw a return to Holbeach for right back Jack Keeble, who came through the youth system at Carter's Park, and attacking midfielder Liam Adams who Whaley signed in the summer.

Wisbech were fortunate not to go behind with less than a quarter of an hour played when Holbeach attacker Jonny Lockie ran down the right and laid off a ball that Spencer Tinkler steered wide from 20 yards out.

The visitors opened the scoring with help of Holbeach's Joe Smith who headed a Jack Gurney free kick past his own goalkeeper, Ricky Drury.

That was the signal for Whaley's men to take a firm grip on the game as summer signings Andre Williams and Avelino Vieira linked up well to carve out a shooting chance that which Williams put well wide.

Eventually, the superior skills of the Fenmen paid off with a goal all of their own making shortly after the half-hour mark when a Jack Gurney right wing cross was helped on by Danny Draper right into the path of Vieira who calmly slotted past Drury.

In the second half, Williams worried the Holbeach goal again when he let fly struck an angled drive from 20 yards out after a Gurney free kick was only half-cleared.

Then an impressive passage of team football for Wisbech, involving Vieira, Adams and Layton Maddison, nearly undid the Holbeach defence before a clearance out of the area fell to Keeble who fired a cross-shot against the Tigers' post.

With a quarter of the game to go, Draper nearly added a third as he forced Drury into an acrobatic save with a fierce shot from just inside the area.

Whaley said: "Jack Gurney provided really good delivery today, in the right areas, and if you put the ball in the right areas and you get good movement, sometimes own goals happen.

"It got us on the way and the second goal was a good goal, but the only frustration I felt was that when we got the ball to our front four in the Holbeach half, we needed to do that more often.

"Defensively, we kept a clean sheet and looked quite solid but how we get the ball to the front four enough so they can do what they are capable.

"We need the intensity of the fixtures after playing a couple of friendlies which have been slow and not really match-like.

"One of our problem is, when we play in the FA Cup preliminary round next month, the side we face will have played three competitive games and so if you're not quite at it, you do get caught out at that time.

"So I was pleased with the intensity of the game on Saturday, there were areas that I was really pleased with, but there are areas to work on which is what you want in a pre-season friendly."

WISBECH TOWN: Pearson; Keeble, Grogan, Nkobi, Marshall; Murphy, Gurney; Williams, Adams, Draper; Vieira. Subs: Gadsden, Kimber, Kennelly, Maddison, Pearson, White.

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