Referee dominates as Wisbech defeated
Wisbech Town 0, Ilkeston Town 2
Northern Premier League south east division
I'm always loathe to criticise referees as they're only human and, like players, are going to make mistakes.
But when 11 yellow cards are handed out, two resulting in dismissals, in a match where hardly a spiteful tackle is made, then the man in the middle is dominating proceedings and having an adverse affect on the match.
Thomas Harvey dismissed Ilkeston striker Kieran Wells for a second bookable offence after 74 minutes when his 'foul' was more of a coming together with Wisbech defender Jack Keeble, and then evened it up with a second yellow for Fenmen striker Charley Sanders three minutes later. Sanders' first booking had been for an accidental handball, his second for a soft foul when he was trying to play the ball.
Ironically, before he went off injured, Ilkeston's Alex Marshall did not go into the ref's book in a first half in which he twice threw the ball away from Wisbech free kicks and then raised his knee towards home captain Sam Spencer's head when both were on the ground after a tackle.
There were some new faces on show for Wisbech. With goalkeeper Sam Wilson unavailable due to work commitments at Mansfield Town FC, where he is an Academy coach, Muhammed Otuyo was signed on Friday afternoon on dual registration with Mickleover Sports.
Recent signing from Stamford Jack Keeble started alongside Spencer in central defence, and Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson, who came off the bench last week at Stocksbridge after signing from Loughborough Dynamo, played in a forward role.Ollie Gale continued in the left back role he occupied at Stocksbridge after four months out injured.
On the bench was former Leicester City academy striker Olly Stevenson and work experience loan players from Peterborough United, defender Khaya Roudette-Gregory and striker Nathan Rudman.
Attacking towards a vocal away support, the Robins opened the scoring after 18 minutes when Otuyo dropped a ball into the box when under pressure by two Ilkeston players. Mason Lee – who had only just returned to the Robins after a loan spell at Wisbech – stabbed home. In seven games for the Fenmen, the hard-working striker never looked like scoring.
The home team reacted well and Tiago Nassunculo saw a cultured 25 yard effort flash just past the post after 25 minutes before a Sanders drive tested visiting keeper Ross Durrant five minutes later, after good work by Danny Draper.
But it was nearly 2-0 right on half time, striker Wells spinning and shooting in the box, his shot striking the cross bar.
Wisbech came out fighting after the break and should have scored when Nassunculo got on the end of a long ball and squared for Sanders, who was brilliantly tackled by Billy Bennett as he was about to score. Keeble then saw a low drive well saved, a Fortnam-Tomlinson effort bound for the top corner was headed over and the same player just failed to get on the end of a Sanders chip towards the far post.
But the last 20 minutes of the game was marred by the two sendings off and a flurry of yellow cards, Wisbech interim manager Kevin Ward even getting booked as Mr Harvey dominated proceedings.
The Fenmen continued to push but were hit on the break eight minutes from time when Kole Lambert got on the end of a long through ball and calmly slotted home.
It was tough on Wisbech who probably deserved at least a point, but cut out missing chances and conceding soft goals and a win is just around the corner – perhaps at fellow strugglers Chasetown next week.
Otuyo, Hart, Gale, Maddison (Whyatt 70 mins), Spencer, Keeble, Nassunculo (Marshall 70), Draper, Sanders, Fortnam-Tomlinson, Dean (Rudman 90). Subs (not used): Stevenson, Roudette-Gregory.
Durrant, Mullarkey, Bennett (Lambert 56 mins), Fyfe, Marshall, Fenton, Smith, Bell-Toxtle, Wells, Marshall (Walker 44), Lee (Squires 89).
Lee (0-1, 18 mins), Lambert (0-2, 82).
Otuyo, Gale, Sanders x2, Whyatt, Ward (Wisbech); Bell-Toxtle, Bennett, Wells x2, Walker (Ilkeston).
Wells (Ilkeston), Sanders (Wisbech).
Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson – worked hard in attack and tracked back too. A constant threat who will score and create goals for Wisbech.
More by this authorJeremy Ransome