jack has instant impact

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Schoolboy Jack Friend became the youngest Wisbech Town player to score a goal at Thurlow Nunn League level on Saturday in the 4-1 win against Thetford Town.

The Thomas Clarkson pupil, who only celebrated his 16th birthday eight days before game, was not even expecting to make his first team debut.

But Steve Appleby brought him off the bench for the last 13 minutes and what an impact the young lad made ironically wearing the number 16 shirt.

He is also the youngest Wisbech player to appear at this level after Stuart Brown made his debut at 16 years and eight months.

And Appleby believes the club may have unearthed a real gem in the striker who was at Norwich City’s academy as an eight-year-old and had a trial with Leicester City last year.

Not only did he execute the calmest of finishes for his goal from six yards out in the 89th minute, but also had three other decent attempts on goal as well as showing good movement and strength in holding the ball up.

He headed a Napier corner into the side netting, shot just past the far post when put clear by Steven Reid and also headed another corner over the bar.

Friend said: “I only found out I was going to be on the bench on Tuesday and did not really expect to get on the pitch. It was fantastic to get my chance and awesome to go and get a goal.

“It is is easily the best moment I have had in football so far and it will always be a special goal. I am a Wisbech fan and come and watch games when possible. The other players made me welcome. Now all I am looking forward to is next Saturday when I have been told I am on the bench for the FA Vase.”

He had plenty of support in the crowd with several members of his family and friends present and father Paul said: “I was over the moon when he scored and very proud of him. He left his boots at training on Tuesday and when he went back for them he found out he was on the bench for Saturday.”

Appleby was buzzing about the youngster’s impact on the game and said afterwards: “He was the real icing on the cake. He was very composed for his goal and took it well. The lad has been training with us for the last few weeks and has looked decent. He would have been in the squad before but we had to wait for his 16th birthday.

“Chris Dear says he has the looks of a real footballer. He is holding the ball up and keeping the ball close to him and showed good movement too. He is a level headed lad, wants to do well and looks to have a bright future.”

The success was no surprise to Jack’s PE teacher at Thomas Clarkson, James Hooper said: “Jack has always been top of the class in football and is just about unstoppable in games. He is very good at rugby too and has got the right attitude.”

To cap off a great weekend Jack scored in Wisbech St Mary’s Under 17s’ 7-0 win on Sunday, but it was back to school on Monday.