Wisbech Town 3,
Kirkley & Pakefield 3
Super-sub Scott Johnson rescued a point for the Fenmen with a 95th minute goal at the Elgood’s Fenland Stadium in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier on Saturday.
Wisbech should have won the game, looked like losing it – the second match in a row in the league at home, it seemed – until the senior player struck with virtually the last kick of the afternoon. The result drops Wisbech into fourth place from third.
Manager Steve Appleby said: “We self-destructed. We were 1-0 up and should have been three up at the break.
“We are not clinical enough at the minute and we’re not putting teams to bed. I was in despair before the end. After the performance we had put in the previous week in the Vase – we’ve got to be more consistent, do it week in and week out.”
The Fenmen could not convert their lion’s share of possession and pressure, going from 2-1 up to 3-2 down in the space of five second half minutes.
However, they had the perfect start on five minutes when a neat move involving Deakan Napier and Dubi Ogbonna led to the former teeing up Steven Reid to fire home a first-time shot into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.
Chris Bacon sent a snapshot and a dipping free-kick just over the bar as the hosts looked comfortable but lacked a second goal to settle them.
Kirkley bagged a controversial equaliser five minutes before half-time as referee Dean Appleby proved he would do his namesake, Fenmen boss Steve, no favours by awarding a soft-looking free-kick on the left touchline against Adam Millson. Scott Woodcock sent a deep ball towards Ryan Crisp, who back-headed the ball, which looped over the stranded Lea Jordan in the home goal.
“It was not a free-kick, not in a million of years. He had fallen over a split-second before,” said Appleby.
In the second half goalkeeper Rob Hills denied Bacon with his legs, while Tarren Grint and Craig Roberts cleared off the line during a frantic Fenmen spell of corners.
Midway through the second period Kirkley were penalised for a hotly-disputed handball and Bacon coolly dispatched the penalty.
“I thought it was harsh, I don’t think it was a penalty,” said Appleby. “The lad has got his arm by his side and it hit his arm. It’s unfortunate whichever way you’re on – we’ve had it against us.”
However an error by Stacy Cartwright let in Crisp for his second strike with a neat turn and shot after he was going away from goal on 70 minutes.
Disaster struck for Wisbech three minutes later, with skipper and centre-back Paul Cousins off the pitch gaining treatment and Woodcock took advantage at the back post when a cross eluded the defence.
Appleby sent on Johnson as Cousins’ replacement, as well as fellow subs Rogan McGeorge and young Jack Friend.
It looked to be a second successive pointless home league game, with Bacon missing a cross in front of a gaping goal, Millson heading straight at the keeper, Jon Fairweather hitting the side-netting and Matt Lunn foiled by Hills.
But with less than 60 seconds to go Johnson shot home from the inside of both posts – however, it was two points dropped rather one gained.
Appleby remarked on the second half lapses: “Stacy was trying to run the ball out of midfield; then Neal Spafford, who has been immense, went to clear the ball and missed.
“We were punished and we seem to get crucified by teams every week. The way we play we create for fun. We’re not being clinical and it is coming back to haunt us.”
Wisbech: Jordan, Spafford, Cartwright, Cousins, Fairweather, Reid, Bacon, Millson, D. Ogbonna, Napier, Lunn. Subs used: Johnson, McGeorge, Friend.