Tough fixtures ahead for Great Yarmouth Town

GREAT Yarmouth Town return tomorrow to the scene of one of their two league defeats of last season, FC Clacton.

The Seasiders, promoted alongside Yarmouth last term, have had a slow start to their Ridgeons Premier Division campaign and (as at Tuesday) sit six places off the bottom with 11 points from 11 games, writes Gerry Brown.

It was not until September 21 that Clacton attained their first league win of the season (3-1 at home to Wivenhoe) but last Saturday they pulled off a 1-0 win at Norwich United, a team now without a win in six games.

Felixstowe, Dereham, Leiston and Mildenhall have all won at the Bowl this season. Last season’s visit by the Bloaters saw Clacton win 1-0 with a very late goal.

The Reserves, unbeaten so far, entertain Dereham Town Reserves at the Wellesley tomorrow, ko 3pm. The Under-18s visit Kirkley & Pakefield Youth on Wednesday, ko 7.45pm.

The Ladies’ team, also unbeaten in their first season together, entertain Hethersett Ladies in their League Cup, at the Wellesley ko 2pm, no charge for admission. Last Sunday they were held to a 1-1 draw by Bungay Ladies at the Wellesley.

The men’s Sunday side have a 100 per cent record this season and last weekend won 6-2 at Acle Wanderers in a cup match.

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In the Norfolk and Suffolk Youth League, the U11s went top after a 13-0 win over K&P A, the U14s lost 5-3 to Bungay and the U16s won 3-1 at Swindell Juniors.

Great Yarmouth Town 0, Wroxham 2

Wroxham’s only home loss so far was at the hands of Yarmouth, but Tuesday’s Wellesley visitors fully avenged that defeat to go second in the table.

Yarmouth gave their all and matched Wroxham in every department except the one that matters most — scoring.

They also had the disadvantage of playing the last 34 minutes with only 10 men as Jake Reed was adjudged, somewhat harshly it seemed, to have committed a two-footed tackle on Wroxham keeper Scott Howie, who emerged uninjured.

Manager Paul Tong could not fault his Yarmouth players: “Against a top-three side who are going to be up there come the end of the season, we’ve given them two hard games – one in which we’ve come out on top and one we haven’t.

“Unfortunately, the referee made his decision, rightly or wrongly, and we just have to accept it. He was nearer than I was and I have no qualms with his decision. However, it proved a turning point in the game. But I credit my youngsters and I have nothing but praise for them. They never gave up, they kept going until right at the death Wroxham got the second.

“After Saturday’s poor performance, we gave everything tonight. Ross Catchpole came in, Lee Roscoe came on, Jonny King was outstanding after I subbed him early on Saturday. We created chances, even when we went down to 10 men, but so did they when they had the numerical advantage.

“Now, we’ve got to get our heads down and keep working hard. We have a tough month ahead of us — it does not get any easier in this division!”

Scott Woodcock and Olly Savage were rested from Saturday’s defeat, Kevin Howes and Joe Bell being given starting places this time.

The first half was goalless, but with both teams eager to get the ball forward there was plenty of excitement for the crowd, with Reed the dominant figure in Yarmouth’s attacking moves. King popped up to head off his own line from a Wroxham corner, and Bell went very close with a 35-yard free-kick.

Bell turned supplier to feed Reed with an excellent ball and the front man beat his opponent only for Howie to match his shot with the save. A Gavin Norman shot took a huge deflection for a Yarmouth corner and Michael Hilton’s hardest task of the half was to safely clutch a Josh Carus header following a corner.

Yarmouth continued the good work after the interval when Howes rose at the far post to head just wide while Martyn Magee and Craig Roberts were dominating the Wroxham front line.

Then came the sending-off incident, and although Reed poked the ball past Howie and into the net, referee Hambling took exception to Reed’s prior challenge and immediately showed the red card. He now misses three games through suspension.

Howes, Fell and Norman all pressured the Wroxham goal but it was the Yachtsmen who found the opening score after 71 minutes when Jamie Atkins crossed from the right and Danny Boswell nodded simply past Hilton.

Yarmouth immediately brought on Woodcock and Lee Roscoe for the tiring Howes and Norman who had both put in sterling efforts.

Although the fresh legs pepped the side and caused some hefty clearances as the visitors attempted to stem the late tide of Yarmouth attacks, it was the Yachtsmen who sailed away with a second goal from Gavin Lemmon in the fifth minute of added time to give a totally unrealistic look to the scoreline.

Yarmouth: M Hilton, J King, J Bell, C Roberts, M Magee, R Catchpole, L Fell, D Smith, K Howes, J Reed, G Norman. Subs: S Woodcock (for Howes 72), O Savage, L Roscoe (Norman 72), B Junior, J Jessup.

Attendance: 71.

Great Yarmouth Town 0, Stanway Rovers 2

Paul Tong’s pre-match warnings proved prophetic as his team committed both the errors he warned against in his pre-match programme notes to prolong the supporters wait for a home win.

But all of this was a long way ahead of an opening burst of activity that saw Scott Woodcock twice denied by visiting keeper Joe Playle in the opening minutes. However, as play settled down, Michael Hilton in the home goal did well to claim the ball in a goalmouth melee after Joe Davis beat the offside trap.

Play remained in the Yarmouth goal-mouth as an inviting Davis cross went unheeded and a free-kick was collected by Hilton under the bar.

Gavin Norman and Jake Reed battled gamely up front for the Bloaters but it was the visitors who created the more danger and a 31st minute header from former Greece U21 player and Stanway captain Alex Drennan dropped kindly at Hilton’s feet.

Yarmouth made an early tactical substitution, replacing defender Jonny King with striker Kevin Howes after half an hour, Luke Fell dropping back but the Essex visitors then took the lead through an Arron Clark goal after Yarmouth lost possession outside the penalty area in the 34th minute and the striker moved forward to shoot past Hilton.

Drennan was then in action at the other end, fouling Reed on the Stanway by-line but Woodcock’s free kick into the box ended disappointingly in a free kick for the defenders.

Yarmouth upped their game after the break, and in a concentrated spell of pressure, two Howes headers went desperately close for the Bloaters, one from a Woodcock corner smashed against the bar, and the other was finger-tipped away by Playle.

Martyn Magee and Fell were doing good work in defence and the latter cleared a corner off the line before Stanway broke out to increase their lead against the run of play via a 58th minute header from Ross Norfolk who was allowed too much room in the area after a partially-cleared corner was returned to the danger zone.

Yarmouth looked destined not to score as Jake Reed put a smart effort onto the bar from a lovely back heel by Howes, and Playle denied Yarmouth again as another good effort from Reed, with his back to goal, was touched away for yet another fruitless corner after 71 minutes.

Reed’s endeavour and skill did not deserve to be on the losing side but despite their best efforts in the closing minutes the Bloaters were left still looking for that elusive first Wellesley win.

Upon the match, Tong commented: “It was a disappointing result overall, but Stanway were a very competitive side. We were punished for our individual errors along with lady luck not being on our side when we hit the woodwork twice and also suffered from a brilliant save in the top corner. However, I must say that our second half performance was much better than our first when we seemed to be still on vacation!

“I know I’m hard on the lads but I also know how vital it is to pick up as many points as you can at this stage of the season to carry on the enjoyment of the Premier Division.

“That all said and done, we must take into consideration that only three of the players on Saturday were over 24 years of age, and this youthfulness bodes well for the club’s future.”

Strangest thing about the game was the usually-stentorian Tong being outvoiced by the Stanway manager!

Team: M Hilton, J King, O Savage, C Roberts, M Magee, G Palmer, L Fell, D Smith, G Norman, J Reed, S Woodcock. Subs: J Bell (Savage 67), R Catchpole (Palmer 67), K Howes (King 30), B Junior.

Attendance: 73.