Wisbech Town 3, March Town 2
STEVE Appleby got his tactics spot on as the Fenmen showed a little too much quality for a gallant March side in last night’s FA Cup replay in front of a record 830 crowd at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium.
The Wisbech manager decided to switch his tactics for the replay by adopting a bold 4-3-3 formation and also swap skipper Neal Spafford to central defence to add some pace there.
But Appleby admitted after the game: “I must have picked four different teams on Tuesday and still could not name the final line-up until Anthony Reeve and Steven Reid came through fitness tests an hour before kick-off.
“Callum Reed was ruled out injured anyway so I decided on more strength in the middle of the park and go for three up top and try and win more ball there too.
“It is something I have had in mind all season and Nick Davey deserved to have a start. Everyone was up for it this time and I think it worked out well; we were much the better team in the first half when we had a good tempo. The referee gave them two soft penalties so the scoreline wasn’t really a true reflection.
“But fair credit to March they have competed against us well over the two games. It is good to go through and now we have a home tie against Wroxham to look forward to.”
Right from the start the game was not short of goal incident and was a much better spectacle than the first meeting at the GER. March again started brightly with Ricky Goodale ghosting past two defenders before blazing his shot high and hopelessly wide.
Play moved swiftly to the other end and the ever-improving March defender Adam Sutton did brilliantly to block a Liam Nimmo shot that was destined for the net.
The Wisbech strike force were soon stretching March as they linked up well with Chris Bacon orchestrating the damage and Nick Davey had a good chance but shot tamely after Bacon had cut the ball from the bye-line.
The Wisbech pressure finally paid off after 26 minutes when from their third corner Stacy Cartwright’s cross diverted into the far corner of the net by Simon Ashton’s head for his first goal for the club.
The goal certainly put the Hares on the back foot and Bacon was close to turning a Nimmo cross goalwards and soon after Nimmo forced a fine save from Tom Roberts.
A second goal came for Wisbech after 39 minutes when Lewis Cook was adjudged to handle the ball and Bacon made no mistake from the spot kick.
March had to thank Roberts for another good save this time thwarting Davey as he raced into the box and it was a good thing for March that the half-time whistle came.
March boss Brett Whaley brought on speedster Ash Brand for the second 45 minutes and sacrificed defender Gav Cooke in an attempt to get back into the game.
His side certainly started the brighter and reduced the deficit after 48 minutes when referee Chris Francis felt Spafford had fouled Anderson in the box. Skipper Luke Pepper made it 2-1.
Goodale then let his frustration get the better of him after losing the ball after a good run across the box and was lucky to see only a yellow card for a foul on Cartwright.
Welcher forced Ryan Rayner to push the ball over the bar when launching a looping effort from out on the touchline.
March continued to strive for an equaliser with Lenton heading a Goodale corner across the face of the goal and then Brand shooting just past the post with the keeper beaten.
But with 15 minutes to go it looked as though March’s fate was sealed when the best piece of football in both games resulted in a third Wisbech goal.
Reeve won the ball in own half and moved over the halfway line before sliding the ball down the touchline for Bacon to run on to. The striker then crossed for Davey to flick the ball into Nimmo’s path and he scored from close range.
Wisbech soon had to reform with Reeve going off and Thomspon, who had a very good game, dropping to right back and a 4-4-2 line-up. They lost no momentum and Paul Jones and Matt Lunn forced good saves from Roberts and substitute Ollie Gale headed narrowly past an upright.
Then with the game already in injury time the referee gave the third penalty of the night for a Spafford foul on Cook and substitute Andy Wayte scored but there was never a real threat of an equaliser after that.
In the end Wisbech’s quality had overcome a hard-working March side and their manager Whaley reflected: “We were too deep in the first half and did not really get the ball down and play so could not make the most of the space out wide.
“We responded well after the break and for 30 minutes we played our best over the two games and started to create some good chances. The two penalties were a bit soft but we could have had a third one when Simon Ashton looked to handle the ball.
“Our lads gave it their all and it is no disgrace to beaten by a top side in the Premier Division. Hopefully we will learn from this and improve.”
Almost 2,000 people have attended both games and the clubs have collected a £3,000 windfall each and the winners picked up an extra £1,500.
Wisbech: Ryan Rayner, Neal Spafford, Stacy Cartwright, Simon Ashton, Nick Davey, Anthony Reeve, Paul Jones, Lewis Thompson, Chris Bacon, Liam Nimmo, Steven Reid. Subs used: Ollie Gale, Matt Lunn.
March Town: Tom Roberts, Gav Cooke, Marc Welcher, Lewis Cook, Adam Sutton, Chris Lenton, Ricky Goodale, Dan Jenkins, Stu Anderson, Luke Pepper, Adam Rothery. Subs used: Ash Brand, James McDonough, Andy Wayte.