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Dream start for Wisbech as player manager Mettam leaves the bench to net late winner



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Wisbech Town 1, AFC Mansfield 0

Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division North

Player manager Leon Mettam came off the bench to score the winning goal for the Fenmen this afternoon as they returned to Step 5 football after four seasons at a higher level.

Kyle Onyon in action
Kyle Onyon in action

It was a fairytale debut for the 35-year-old, who has put together a team from scratch after taking over the reigns at Fountain Fresh Park just three weeks ago.

And it was a deserved victory for Wisbech, after every player grafted so hard on a very warm afternoon.

A team made up of local players, last season's reserves, old team mates of Mettam's and even a young midfielder – Mo Janneh – who answered a rallying tweet from Mettam, left everything on the pitch as they battled and scrapped for every ball.

Cenk Acar battles for the ball
Cenk Acar battles for the ball

Mettam (read his thoughts here) will hope to add quality to the commitment in future weeks and there will certainly be new players coming in, but after this solid, organised start, the boss can certainly be pleased with his first game as a number one.

Wisbech lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with a central defence of former King's Lynn player Chris Ward, Kris Masiarz, who had intended to play for Step 7 Upwell Town this season, and and ex-Stamford youngster Archie Wallace.

Former Parson Drove and Upwell player Kieran Hamilton and ex-Peterborough North End defender Owen Howard played left and right wing back respectively.

The experienced former Spalding and Lincoln City player Kegan Everington captained the side from midfield, alongside ex-Pinchbeck and Boston Town player Patrik Kacirek and London-based Janneh, while former Grantham man Cenk Acar and ex-Sleaford striker Kyle Onyon started up front.

Keeper Luke Pearson
Keeper Luke Pearson

On the bench was Mettam, reserve player Rob Breide and 16-year-old striker Joe Harris. Five subsitutions are allowed in the UCL this season, so the fact the manager only has three on the bench showed the struggle he's had to bring in players in such a short amount of time.

But his team more than held their own in a first half devoid of chances, as they gave 100% to a man, Everington bossing the midfield and Hamilton working well down the left.

It was nip and tuck too in the second half, although the Nottinghamshire visitors were looking fresher as the game went on after the luxury of replacing five players as the match progressed.

Kieran Hamilton had a great game at left wing back
Kieran Hamilton had a great game at left wing back

But after Mettam brought himself on, the mood music changed and the home side looked the more likely victors. The ex-Lynn, Lincoln City and Worksop striker was able to hold the ball up, make incisive runs, find space and make telling passes.

And it was one of those runs which won the points for the home team, as the impressive Hamilton burst down the left wing and crossed for the onrushing Mettam to sweep home from ten yards.

Despite obvious nerves, the home side saw the last 10 minutes out comfortably, with some neat passing and strong defending.

Mo Janneh in action
Mo Janneh in action
Central defender Chris Ward
Central defender Chris Ward
Cenk Acar on the ball
Cenk Acar on the ball
Captain Kegan Everington
Captain Kegan Everington
Leon Mettam nets the winner
Leon Mettam nets the winner
Leon Mettam celebrates his winning goal
Leon Mettam celebrates his winning goal
Players celebrate the winning goal with manager Leon Mettam
Players celebrate the winning goal with manager Leon Mettam
Mo Janneh celebrates with young fans
Mo Janneh celebrates with young fans

Rome wasn't built in a day, but today the new manager laid down some solid foundations.

Wisbech Town (3-5-2, r-l): Pearson; Masiarz, Ward, Wallace; Howard, Janneh, Everington, Kacirek, Hamilton; Onyon (Mettam 71 mins), Acar. Subs (not used): Harris, Breide.

AFC Mansfield: Warhurst, Tomlinson, Bratley, Lane, Bartholomew, Tahar, Lawrence, Bouheraoua, Ackroyd, Hardwick, Walwyn-Alsop. Subs (all used): Hobson, Clark, Mears, Allen, Suleiman.

Booked: Howard, Mettam (Wisbech); Bratley, Bartholomew, Hardwick (Mansfield).

Star man: Leon Mettam - he was only on the pitch for 20 minutes but, despite taking training sessions rather than benefiting from taking part in them, his quality shone through and he took his goal in the cool manner that he has done down the years.

Attendance: 216.

Next up: Pinchbeck United (A) - Wednesday.



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