Angels beat Shannocks in derby clash

IN a game dubbed as 'war' by its participants, an army of North Walsham Town's Angels marched along the North Norfolk coast for a duel with Sheringham and emerged triumphant by two goals to one in an enthralling encounter.

Town made one change from the side that were so close to taking all three points against Mattishall with Abbs returning in place of Gainsford, who was university bound. Higgs continued between the sticks, whilst Patterson joined Davison and Sage on the bench. The opposition included two ex-Angels, Piper and Miller, in their squad and had two more, Brendling and Maxey, watching in attendance.

The Angels made an offensive thrust in the early stages and came close to striking the first blow, but Jackson in the Shannocks goal showed great reflexes to deflect Marsh's volley over the bar. They saw another chance go begging soon after when Cini found himself unmarked on the penalty spot but, with Jackson stranded, he could only direct his header wide of the goal.

To their credit, Sheringham soon took control and were causing problems with their delivery from wide positions and their ability to turn the Town defence around. On one such occasion, Muir got caught out and Higgs bravely blocked Curtis' shot. Moments later, chief-defector Piper wasted the best chance of the game when he conspired to fire over with the goal at his mercy. This brought large cheers from the Walsham contingent in the stand and served to reignite Town's belief. This was reinforced by Davis' courageous efforts in defence and Grand and Marsh's energy and drive in the centre of the park as they locked horns with Balls and Keegan. Although the Shannocks came close on a couple of occasions, Abbs was a whisker away from wrong footing Jackson as his near post shot hit the side netting and then Grand could only shoot straight at Jackson.

The break saw Town make a slight alteration to their approach with Abbs joining Reynolds in the front line and Cini taking up a wide position.

Unfortunately, The Angels were not prepared for the onslaught that hit them and Sheringham became camped in enemy territory. On three occasions, they missed the target when it seemed easier to score and Walsham were indebted to both Higgs and Davis as they combined to scramble one effort off the line.

The Angels recovered their composure and took advantage of Sheringham's profligacy when they took a 65th minute lead. Grand's hassling forced Amis into a wayward clearance and Will Abbs pounced on the ball, shook off Graver's attentions and fired low into the bottom corner.

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Town then set about preserving their lead and were looking strong with Higgs marshalling his back line well. However in the 78th minute, as pressure mounted, confusion reigned in the Town defence and with Higgs coming for a long ball, Dunlop's outstretched leg diverted the ball past the Town keeper and despite his best efforts to stop the ball, it rolled over the line although Curtis's over enthusiastic challenge on the retreating Higgs could've been deemed illegal by the officials.

The Angels didn't let this blur their quest for success and this topsy-turvy encounter erupted on 86 minutes Abbs' original shot was blocked by Jackson, but Dunlop's follow-up struck Andy Gleave. Referee Reid decided Gleave had used a hand to stop the effort and pointed to the spot. A torrent of abuse followed and Gleave was dismissed, before Daniel Tindall confidently dispatched the spot kick into the bottom corner. This sparked wild celebrations in the dug-out and amongst the travelling support and this continued until the final whistle as Town ran the clock down with substitutes Davison and Patterson coming on and Sheringham failing to threaten.

The whole side can be hugely proud of their efforts with special mentions going to Kieran Davis, who was immense at the heart of the defence and Will Abbs, whose attacking threat was a pleasure to watch. Robert Grand also did well!

Despite the dreadful conditions, this was an absorbing evening's entertainment and it is hoped that the victory is proof of the current squad's capabilities. Sheringham will almost certainly be vying for the Sterry Cup, so these points were huge.

Amid the post-match delights, the club announced the capture of striker Daniel Allen from Sheringham. This signing, along with the prospect of two more new faces in the next week or so, are seen as valuable additions as the Angels management seek to complete the jigsaw.

This Saturday sees the club descend on Cabbell Park for a meeting with Chris Wigger's league leading Cromer side. This is also a reunion with ex Angels Harwood, Landamore, Hinton and Wilton with Town's James Marsh returning to his former stomping ground. In other club news, the club have been paired with Sprowston Athletic in the Norfolk Senior Cup and will be making the trip to Blue Boar Lane on October 16.

The weekend also saw the Reserves host Division Three leaders Harleston, who proved themselves a very competent side at this level as they inflicted a 5-1 defeat on the Angels. Leigh Payne bundled home Town's goal and, despite the defeat, goalkeeper Murphy's performance earned plaudits from the first team management in attendance.

Leigh Payne made it four goals in four for the Sunday side as they bounced back from last week's embarrassment at Horsford to emerge comprehensive 4-1 victors over Fiveways. Daniel Tindall grabbed a penalty and Colm McGilway's brace completed the scoring.