Leaders too strong for Watton
North Walsham Tn 3, Watton Utd 1 WATTON made the long journey to Anglian Combination Premier Division leaders North Walsham aiming to put a stop to their recent losing streak.
North Walsham Tn 3, Watton Utd 1
WATTON made the long journey to Anglian Combination Premier Division leaders North Walsham aiming to put a stop to their recent losing streak.
The management decided on a reshuffle to try and stop the worrying number of goals Watton had leaked in recent weeks.
But even after the Watton's defence had sorted out their recent problems, it was harsh luck when a long ball was flicked on by a Walsham centre forward straight to strike partner Davies who was a clear five yards offside, and with Watton's defenders standing still amazed at no flag, he ran through and slotted past Cruikshank from 18 yards.
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There was no denying that the first 20 minutes it showed why North Walsham had risen to the top of the table recently, with their impressive young side closing Watton's team down at every opportunity, and counter attacking on both flanks.
Watton could have levelled in the intervening 20 minutes, but as it was Woods cleared the ball out to prevent a corner, and up stepped the long throw expert. Walsham piled defenders forward and it was Fitzgerald who gained the faintest of touches to head the ball in off a post, with Cruikshank almost managing to claw the ball out at the last opportunity.
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Further chances came and went, including a quick free releasing Rudling, who deceived the defence only to skew his shot over the bar as he tangled with Ward in getting his shot away, and Mark Allibones 20 yard free-kick well saved by the goalkeeper.
Watton were clearly still in this game at half-time, but had failed to get influential Walker into game and introduce their quick passing game.
Managers Harwood and Hunt insisted their need to move the ball quicker if they were to create any more chances in the second half.
It started brighter for Watton, with Astbury returning back to his last season's form in midfield, and opening up room for the influential Walker to run at the defence.
At times Watton and with Bennett and Mark Woods performing well again at the back against the quick forward line, it seemed Watton might still get something from the game, with Rudling and Bloomfield creating scoring chances for strike pairing Ward and Allibone.
Walsham, however, still had the threat down either flank, and it was Hinton who finally broke clear to be brought down by Paul Woods in the area, and the same player dispatched the penalty in off the post.
For the last 15 minutes Watton introduced 18-year-old Chris Softley, who recently returned from New Zealand for a few months, and he excelled with some impressive control and quick passing moves which Watton had lacked for most of the game.
In fact, Watton had Walsham on the back for the remainder of the game, and in between Softley scoring with a looping shot over the head of the keeper, had two clear chances which could have levelled the scores from Softley's corners.
In fact it was such an impressive turnaround in that quarter of an hour, that Softley tied the man-of-the-match award with Stu Bennett.
At the final whistle, manger Harwood urged the team to take the performance of the last 10 minutes into this week's home fixture against Wroxham Reserves, and gain a much-needed win before the Christmas break.
Meanwhile, Watton Reserves couldn't get their third straight win in their last game before the Christmas break, performing poorly and losing to 3-1 to St Andrew Reserves.
Watton had levelled through the impressive Danny Reeve, but six minutes before the final whistle lost concentration and went down to a further two goals.
Man of the match was Keiron Brown. who turned in another cultured performance at left-back.
The management team of Wilkins and Griffith are looking for a more consistent performance in the new year to stay in contention at the top of the table.