Plenty of positives in defeat for Wisbech St Mary
Wisbech St Mary 2, Huntingdon Town 3
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League First Division North
Not many times in football has a team suffered a 10th straight defeat and yet left the pitch to claps and smiling faces at the final whistle – yet that was the scene at Beechings Close this afternoon.
New manager Paul Hunt has had just one training session with his young squad, but straight away the improvement was obvious, with the home team' shape and balance so much better.
They matched the fifth placed Hunters all the way and not once let their heads go down as they have so often over the last three woeful seasons.
It's early days and there's still a mountain to climb for Hunt, but with relegation unlikely this season as the division is three teams short, the former Swaffham Town and King's Lynn Reserves boss has plenty of time to make his mark.
The Saints, who started with three 16-year-olds in keeper Tyler Key, right back Harvey Pepper and centre back Ben Smith, were straight at it from kick off and could have taken a fourth minute lead had impressive left back Pavel Kaluzny got better purchase on his shot at the far post after a cross from the right just four minutes in.
Five minutes later, Saints were punished for that miss as Nkala Thembalani drilled home from 15 yards for the visitors.
The home team kept going, though, and created a few half chances before Matty Harris-Hercules blasted over a good chance in the 27th minute after a pull back from Charlie Rudland. But the visitors aren't high up the table for no reason and made it 2-0 in the 36th minute when Jay Chilvers headed home from a corner.
Harris-Hercules had a golden chance to reduce the arrears in the final seconds of the first half but, after latching on to a good through ball, his shot was too tame and the onrushing Sarunas Snitkas in the visitors' goal saved.
But three minutes after the break, the young striker found himself clear again and this time he picked his spot carefully to reduce the arrears with his fourth goal of the season.
Despite a marked improvement from recent weeks, however, Saints were still up against top opposition, and the Hunters made it 3-1 in the 57th minute when the impressive Marcio Martins stroked home a penalty after being fouled in the box.
This was the time when Saints' heads have gone down in previous seasons, but today they kept at it and were rewarded with a fortuitous final minute goal when Snitkas came out to clear his lines, completely missed the ball and allowed sub Adam Key – dad to keeper Tyler – to roll home a second for Saints.
Wisbech St Mary: T Key, Harvey, Kaluzny (Papworth 72 mins), Goult, Smith,Baker (A Key 84), Wilmott (Hughes 81), Baker, Harris-Hercules, Rudland, Jose.
Booked: Kaine Baker – foul.
Star man: Jordan Goult – a rock at the back, an organiser and a talker, he will be a key man in Paul Hunt's rebuild.