James leaves Fenmen with Vase winner

Football - Hadleigh (Blue) v Wibech Town in the FA Vase.  Hadleigh number 10 Josh Mayhew on the ball
Football - Hadleigh (Blue) v Wibech Town in the FA Vase. Hadleigh number 10 Josh Mayhew on the ball

Hadleigh Utd 1,

Wisbech Town 2

The Fenmen reached the quarter-finals of the FA Carlsberg Vase for the first time since 1986 by dumping the runaway Thurlow Nunn League leaders.

It was a tale of a returning player and a departing one. Jon Fairweather, who last week returned to the club after a spell with league rivals Spalding United, netted the equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Tom James, who is off to Australia within the week, grabbed a late winner.

The Suffolk side’s Shane Wardley netted after 27 minutes but Fairweather converted a goalmouth scramble on 44 minutes while James struck the penalty winner on 82 minutes when Danny White was fouled by Liam Jennings on the edge of the home box.

Wisbech Town joint boss Dick Creasey said the result was deserved: “No qualms about that. It was a close encounter but I thought we dominated the game apart from a couple of little spells. We were in control.

“We didn’t play as well as against Spalding (the previous week).

“Jon came in and it was a difficult decision who to leave out. That happened to be Kieran Doherty, which was unfortunate as he had done well of late. Jon’s ability in central defence is well-known. I thought the back five mastered the game.

“Their goal was slightly against the run of play, but just before that I thought they were getting a little bit more space.

“It’s an old cliché but it’s the best time to score, it changed our attitude at half-time and we knew we’ve have the breeze down the slope in the second half.

“Apart from one ten-minute spell in the second half there was nothing in it. For the second time (in the competition) we got a stonewall penalty; there were no arguments about it.

“Tony Battersby wanted to take the penalty, but I was hollering for Tom to take it. It shows the character how well he takes it – nothing fazes him. I thought that goal killed them.

“Just before we scored Batts scored a great half-volley into the corner but there had been a push so it was ruled out.

“I was delighted by the support we had which was great. The gate was 511 but well over 200 must have been rooting for us. You could only hear Wisbech fans. It gave us that bit extra.”

On top scorer James’s exit, Creasey said: “Tom and Callum Stocks are both off to Oz. They’re young boys and they want to see the world. They’ll spend a year away, play a bit and do a bit of coaching.

“They’ll depart on good terms and are welcome back. We only knew about Tom in the early part of last week and wish them well.

“We’re looking for another forward. We’ve got Cobby, Matty Lynn and Callum Reed who can play up there but they’re not out-and-out strikers. It’s not easy to get someone who isn’t cup-tied.”

The seventh-place Fenmen host Wellingborough Town who are in eighth spot on Saturday, and third-place Deeping Rangers at the Elgood’s Stadium on Tuesday in the UCL Premier Division. Lea Jordan returns after being cup-tied.

Creasey said: “In the next two or three games we have to make sure everyone gets minutes. Callum Reed, who has had three weeks off due to work commitments, needs a full 90 minutes, as do Stu Cobb and James Tricks.

“Wellingborough and Deeping will be tough games and we have to try and get the players up for them. They are now playing for the shirts for the Vase. We’ll see who performs.

“I can’t accept players giving anything less than 100 per cent – that’s always been one of my little bugbears.”

Wisbech: Mackney, Spafford, Johnson (Doherty), Cousins, Fairweather, Millson, Reid, White, Battersby, James (Cobb), Lunn (Reed). Subs unused: Tricks, Davis.