MATCH ANALYSIS: The final say on Wisbech Town v Stocksbridge Park Steels
This was not the homecoming performance expected of Wisbech after five matches on the road in which they had began to impress.
After a battling league defeat at Cleethorpes, a good FA Trophy win at Kempston and then a fantastic league win at Ilkeston, hopes were high against Steels.
But sloppy defending in the first ten minutes saw the home side two goals down and then they simply forgot the basics.
Rather than play the neat passing game manager Seb Hayes’ teams are known for, the Fenmen tried to trade blows with their strong, physical and direct opponents from Sheffield - and they paid the price.
Only twice in the game did they really keep the ball on the grass and try to play good football - from one of these moves they scored and from the other they went close. So no wonder Hayes was furious.
Too often , especially in a final 20 minutes completely dominated by the visitors, Wisbech were caught out by the same move. A long ball would be hit to one of the three impressive forwards, who would trap it and pass it, before runners would swarm towards the penalty area - often without defensive cover.
The fast, strong visitors from Sheffield opened the scoring within a minute when a ball into the area evaded the head of defender Tom Curtis and was slotted home by Scott Ruthven as the defence remained static.
Eight minutes later a free kick was given away on the right, just outside the box and home keeper Sam Wilson left too much room and was beaten at his near post by Josh Nodder. Not the best way to make a home debut.
There was a chink of light, however, for Wisbech after 13 minutes when a flowing move led to a goal. A great ball down the right saw Aaron Hart cross for Joel Earps to pull one back from close range.
For a while, Wisbech had their heads up and Jay Whyatt and Marshall had shots saved before half time.
Stocksbridge effectively sealed the points after 53 minutes when a great crossfield ball found the impressive Lewis Whitham just outside the area on the left and he curled an exquisite effort into the far corner.
And for the last quarter of the match itwas all Steels as only poor finishing kept the score down.
Wisbech: Wilson, Whyatt, Marshall, Kaye, Curtis, Spencer (c), Hart, Setchell, Earps (Richardson 66mins), Philip (Nassunculo 55), Maddison (Rogers 55). Sub (not used): Shackleton.
Stocksbridge: Hall, Foulkes, Trench, Turner, McFayden, Fielding, Whitham (Slater 70mins), Smiljanic (Ludlam 73), Mangham, Ruthven, Nodder (Swinburn 65). Sub (not used): Thompson.
Referee: Martyn Gospel (Northamptonshire).
Goals: Ruthven (1 min, 0-1); Nodder (9 mins, 0-2); Earps (13 mins, 1-2); Whitham (53 mins, 1-3).
Bookings: Whyatt (Wisbech, dissent); Smiljanic (Stocksbridge, dissent).
Star man:Joel Earps - on a poor day for the Fenmen, he held the ball up well in the early stages and took his goal well.
Who's next: March (A), Cambs Cup, Tuesday; Kidsgrove (A), FA Trophy, Saturday.
More by this authorJeremy Ransome