Bloaters’ relief at home victory

Great Yarmouth Town 3, Walsham-le-Willows 2

The Bloaters’ first team players returned from their self-imposed exile, with only Dominic Smith missing out through a one-game suspension under the totting-up procedure. But despite the pre-Christmas “strike”, there was no doubting the team’s commitment and desire in this fixture, writes Gerry Brown.

The only other absentee was former captain Craig Roberts, who has moved to Essex. But even his commitment was still in evidence as he was phoning for the result before the final whistle had faded.

The who struck first after nine minutes when James Tatham took advantage of space in the Yarmouth box to head home from six yards.

The lead lasted barely two minutes. Gavin Norman made a great run into the box on the left, went round a defender and shot from a tight angle.Keeper Duncan McAnally, another defender and Scott Woodcock all went in for the ball and Woodcock got the decisive touch to steer the ball over the line, possibly off the defender’s boot.

Norman could have given Yarmouth the lead moments later, but surrounded by Walsham players could just not get the ball to a colleague.

Woodcock went on to give a man-of-the-match performance, involved constantly in Yarmouth attacks.

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However, defensive frailties again gave Walsham the lead as Chris McLaughlin found space at the back post to beat Michael Hilton after 15 minutes.

Hilton then produced the first of several fine saves as the excitement continued for the spectators, though both managers must have been tearing their hair out as their defences looked vulnerable.

Woodcock was putting in some beautiful crosses, from one of which McAnally leapt to pluck the ball off Reed’s head at the back post. And it was from another Woodcock ball that the Bloaters’ equaliser came, the 27th minute pass being timed to perfection as Norman ran in to shoot past the keeper.

Walsham had the ball in the Yarmouth net for a third time after 32 minutes, but an offside decision came to the Bloaters’ rescue.

Back came Woodcock with a glancing header from an Olly Savage corner. McAnally just kept it out at the expense of a second corner which brought all sorts of problems for Walsham.

The 37th minute saw the goal frame come to the aid of both defences. First the irrepressible Woodcock hit the Walsham bar, with Fernando Vide blasting the rebound wide, then the visitors raced away to hit a Yarmouth post.

A scrambling save denied Woodcock, with a defender kicking off the line to complete the clearance, and Hilton was the home saviour again just on the break.

Chris Duffy, in only his second senior outing, was having a battling but accomplished game, including a cool but vital goal line clearance.

The second half may have produced only one goal but there was no let up in the excitement as both teams still refused to defend. Some pinball in the Yarmouth area enlivened the 53rd minute before Vide gave way to Olly McCarthy and Yarmouth attacked ferociously on the hour but without reward.

Walsham, too, were wasteful in attack and with a free shot Shane Leach blast over from 12 yards. Reed caused problems for the visitors and several times was felled, but the free-kicks still did not yield Yarmouth the lead. Norman had a good effort well-saved after a Woodcock free-kick.

The winning goal came in the 68th minute when a well-placed free-kick by Magee found Norman, who slotted home his eighth of the season.

Yet another foul on Reed resulted in a booking for Walsham’s Gary Newman when he showed his dissent at the decision.

Reed twice seized on clearances to race away on his own, but each time he put the ball wide.

Woodcock also shot wide and towards the end Hilton produced a fantastic double save. In added time, Walsham gave Yarmouth some anxious moments but they survived.

Yarmouth: M Hilton, L Fell, O Savage, G Palmer, C Duffy, R Catchpole, S Woodcock, M Magee, G Norman, J Red, F Vide. Subs: J Bell (Norman 85), O McCarthy (Vide 56), B Junior.

Att: 72.