Bloaters face hard match at Wisbech

GREAT Yarmouth Town returned from Histon Reserves with their unbeaten league record for 2011 intact, but it took a second-half comeback to secure the draw in an archetypal game of two halves, writes Gerry Brown.

The Bloaters were distinctly below-par in a first half almost totally dominated by the home side. Histon took a 2-0 lead into the break, but Yarmouth roared back.

Within the first ten minutes of the second half the Bloaters had equalised with goals from Jake Reed and Scott Woodcock, and further chances to take all three points followed (match report on page 53).

“After a flat first half, the boys responded to my advice and I couldn’t have asked for more from them,” said a delighted manager Paul Tong.

“We could have gone on to win it but at half-time a point looked very acceptable. Jake Reed and Scott Woodcock were both back to the top of their game; Ross Catchpole, who is often overlooked, was in great form; and credit also to Chris Duffy and Glen Spooner for the way they worked together in defence. Bernardo Junior came in for his first senior game of the season and after a slow start — understandable when he hasn’t played much — did great.

“It’s frustrating at the moment that we haven’t got the settled side we did have, but it all creates openings for others and those that have come in have responded well to the challenge and the opportunity.

“Who will be available this week? We shall have to see after training, but in these difficult financial times. Earning a living comes first and if they have the chance to go in on a Saturday you cannot blame them.

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“We have received a seven days’ notice of approach for Scott Woodcock, but he will be playing for us this weekend.”

Yarmouth have a tough set of games coming up, including Wisbech twice and Norwich United and Haverhill away.

Wisbech tomorrow (KO 3pm), on their new ground where they have lost only once in the league, will not be for the faint-hearted but Tong has given the players fair warning of what to expect.

There is history between the two clubs that older supporters will remember — not least a game in November 1973 that Yarmouth were leading 4-0 before it was abandoned by the referee when he felt play got beyond his control. And Yarmouth have a poor record at the Fenmen’s old ground, Fenland Park. The last win there was 18 years ago on January 23 1993 when Peter Munro scored twice in a 2-1 win.

On Tuesday, the Bloaters visit Norwich United, ko 7.45pm.

The Reserves, hampered by unavailability and first team calls, went down 4-0 to Lowestoft Reserves.

Although it was the Reserves’ first home defeat of the season, two late goals made the game look more one-sided than it really was.

Tomorrow they have another home game when Woodbridge Town Reserves are the visitors (KO 3pm).

The Under-18s went down 4-3 at Wroxham Youth, with Yarmouth’s goals by Josh Trett, Sam Leslie and Liam Jacobs.

On Wednesday they play Harford Tornadoes at the Wellesley (7.45pm).

Sunday results: The U11s won through to the final of their league cup again, beating Gorleston 5-0 with all the goals in the second half.

The other Sunday teams all lost: U14s 4-3 to Dereham, U16s 4-1 to Sprowston, Men 1-0 to Gorleston Albion and Ladies 2-0 to Wymondham.

Sunday fixtures: U11 v St Benets (North Denes, 11), U14 v Kirkley & Pakefield (Halvergate 11), U16 v Gorleston Rangers (home 10.30), Ladies v Stalham (Wellesley 1.30); the Sunday men had no game at time of writing.

Histon Reserves 2, Great Yarmouth Town 2

With availability problems, Paul Tong called up Bernardo Junior for his first senior appearance of the season while Glen Spooner replaced Oliver McCarthy at centre-back along side Chris Duffy. Gavin Norman returned after missing out on Tuesday against Kirkley, and Johnny Miller, though still with his ankle not quite right, nevertheless took a place on the bench alongside youngsters Eddie Short and Jake Jessup. The second-from-bottom home side started with only two players over 20, both of whom were first team squad members.

On a lovely surface, the game started with a flurry of Histon attacks and from their second corner in the seventh minute took the lead when Carlow Lawrence, who had just rejoined the club, pushed the ball home through a crowd of players. The home side enjoyed the better of the play but despite their dominance, Histon created few real chances until 22 minutes when they won a corner but when the ball came in from the place kick Oliver Verrall headed over.

However, Histon went further in front after 32 minutes when Michael Hilton came for a long ball but missed it in a gust of wind and from the half-clearance Kenny Smith lobbed the ball over the defence for 2-0.

A minute later Yarmouth won their first corner of the game but after 35 minutes came their one real chance of the half when Olly Savage took a free kick and rattled the crossbar with a great dipping effort.

Histon finished the half as they started, on the attack, Jay Dowie somehow put a kneeling header wide at the far post when it looked easier to score and Hilton produced a great save at the expense of a corner off the same player whose long shot had just hit a post, the Yarmouth stopper stretching to push the ball round the same post with his fingertips.

The second half start was delayed by a change of referee due to the original official feeling unwell and it was Yarmouth who came out of the starting blocks the quickest when the half did get under way 10 minutes late. A foul on Jake Reed saw Scott Woodcock’s free kick hit the Histon bar after 48 minutes, and then Dominic Smith had a shot charged down and cleared.

Yarmouth’s new-found confidence led to the recovery of one goal when in the 50th minute Reed looked up from fully 30 yards, took aim and arrowed a perfect screamer of a shot into the top corner.

In the 55th minute Reed and Woodcock again combined with a passing move which only won a throw-in but a minute later there was a much greater reward when Reed was pushed over in the box and Woodcock stepped up to the spot to equalise with a thundering penalty.

Two minutes later the Bloaters were unlucky not to have the lead when Gavin Norman sent a pass into the path of Woodcock who let fly with a tremendous drive that was only just too high.

Yarmouth kept up the pressure on the home defence while the Bloaters back four looked increasingly secure and the midfield of Ross Catchpole and Smith worked tigerishly to retain possession in the middle of the park.

A magnificent crossfield pass by Bernardo Junior won a Yarmouth corner, and when that was cleared Fernando Vide went and gained yet another but in conceding it the Histon ‘keeper sustained an injury which led to him being replaced by centre-forward Kenny Smith with all Histon’s three permitted subs having been used.

In the 83rd minute, Woodcock was again the provider to Reed who slid his clear chance wide of the back post. Johnny Miller, on for Vide, then provided a pass intended for Reed and when this was poorly cleared Reed still looked in a good position to collect the loose ball but it proved just too fast for him.

Some great defending by Junior and Spooner saved the day in separate incidents in the closing minutes but Yarmouth could then have won the game in added time first, a Woodcock shot was diverted by the keeper’s foot for a corner and in the dying seconds a Savage cross to the back post saw Woodcock stab wide.

Yarmouth:– M Hilton, B Junior, O Savage, G Spooner, C Duffy, R Catchpole, F Vide, D Smith, G Norman, J Reed, S Woodcock. Subs: J Miller (Vide, 80), E Short, J Jessup.

Attendance: 51.