Greens lose grip on Norfolk Senior Cup after Wroxham fightback

Gorleston U18 player Lee Roots, who made his first team debut against Wroxham.

Gorleston U18 player Lee Roots, who made his first team debut against Wroxham. - Credit: Archant

Wroxham 3 Gorleston 2

Gorlston lost their hold on the Norfolk Senior Cup with an undeserved quarter-final defeat at Ryman League Wroxham on Tuesday night.

Only one team this century has managed to retain the trophy, Dereham, whilst Wroxham themselves managed it previously during the 90s so, statistically, it was no surprise that the Greens bowed out of the tournament, writes DAVE HARDY.

The Greens were without suspended skipper Andy Howell and full back Aaron Jones, who has left for a scholarship in America. Midfielder Chris Sandford, captain for the day, filled in at right back with Jack Marsden switching to centre back. Jack Whatmough was in goal in place of the unavailable Elliot Pride.

Wroxham, who ran out at Wembley less than three years earlier, fielded what appeared to be virtually their strongest side available.

It couldn’t have got off to a better start for Gorleston.

Keegan Middleton fed Ally McKenna in the box. His shot was parried by keeper Scott Howie into the path of Christy Finch, who tucked the ball into the net with just 146 seconds on the clock.

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Four minutes later a fantastic finish from Ross Durrant left Whatmough grasping thin air but the flag was already up for offside.

With 12 minutes gone Middleton was given a clear sight of goal from Sandford’s cross after the bounce deceived Ben Lewis but his effort went two yards wide.

Ten minutes later Wroxham failed to deal with a Middleton cross, the ball ricocheted goalwards off Finch but Howie was able to grasp it.

Gorleston were on top but then the tide began to turn against them.

A high foot kicked Reece Hunn in the face, earning the Greens a free kick, and Hunn a trip off to hospital with a gashed face where his eye had to be glued, but there was no further punishment for the offender.

Zak Clarke then picked up an injury at the same time, and with Hunn and Clarke both receiving treatment, the Greens played for five minutes with just nine men.

During that time the closest the Yachtsmen came to scoring was a Gavin Lemmon free kick which Whatmough got down low to save.

With the enforced substitutions, Gorleston’s depleted defences saw midfielders Gary Williams and Liam Harvey-Cooper filling in at full backs, with Sandford pushing into central midfield.

Gorleston had played the better football during the first half with Wroxham relying on the long ball game to turn the Greens defence and the consensus amongst Wroxham supporters at half time was that the visitors were deservedly in front.

Ten minutes into the second half Gorleston increased their lead. Jack Garrod’s shot from the right was parried away but fell to Finch, who worked himself half a yard of space before firing low into the bottom corner. It was Finch’s tenth goal in his last eight games.

The two-goal cushion lasted just three minutes. A mix-up in the makeshift defence allowed Jamie Forshaw in on the right and he picked out Ben Thompson to shoot home.

Buoyed by this, the Yachtsmen began to press the Greens back and looked the most dangerous they had been all game and, midway through the half, completed their comeback.

Martin McNeil met a corner with a free header, giving Whatmough no chance. Marsden picked up a yellow card for an innocuous-looking challenge as the Greens looked to respond.

On 76 minutes, Middleton and McKenna linked well in midfield finding Garrod on the right. His cross found McKenna in the box. His effort beat everybody but glanced away off the post. With five minutes to go it was former Lowestoft and King’s Lynn player Forshaw who loosened the Greens grip on the trophy when his low volley appeared to bounce over Whatmough’s outstretched arm and found the net. Gorleston pressed for the final five minutes and Lee Roots replaced Middleton for his first team debut.

Finch appeared to be fouled on the edge of the box but the decision surprisingly went the other way, which saw Finch pick up a yellow card for dissent despite his comments not being as vociferous as others had got away with. Afterwards, manager Stewart Larter said he was proud of the performance from his players.

“I’m gutted. We just came up short but it was a big performance. I would also like to thank the supporters for their support, it’s much appreciated.”

Gorleston: Jack Whatmough, Chris Sandford, Reece Hunn (Liam Harvey-Cooper 42), Zak Clarke (Gary Williams 35), Jack Marsden, Josh Armes, Jack Garrod, David Hinton, Ally McKenna, Christy Finch, Keegan Middleton (Lee Roots 87)

Bookings: Marsden 63, Finch 90

Goals: Finch 2, 55

Wroxham: Scott Howie, Ben Lewis, Remy Gordon, Martin McNeil, Josh Carus, Andy Easthaugh, Ross Durrant (Sam Harty 77), Gavin Lemmon, Ben Thompson, Ben Jones (Jamie Spellar 46), Matt Daniels (Jamie Forshaw 56)

Goals: Thompson 58, McNeil 68, Forshaw 85