Angels below par but still beat Kirkley
North Walsham Town 2, Kirkley and Pakefield Reserves 1
North Walsham Town played host to Kirkley and Pakefield Reserves and, despite a disjointed performance, emerged triumphant by the odd goal in three.
Following the rotation of the squad for the cup ties in the previous two weeks, The Angels reverted to the strongest line-up available.
Starts were handed to Higgs, Grand, Rob Marsh, James Marsh and Abbs. Deledicq made his first start. New signing Miller joined Davison and Dunlop on the bench.
Town started quite brightly but after the opening 10 minutes, the game became scrappy with both sides battling for midfield supremacy. Walsham had a couple of decent chances but Thacker blocked Abbs' effort and was then able to deal with James Marsh's low strike. Kirkley, despite some neat approach play, rarely threatened Higgs in the Town goal so the half finished goalless.
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Half-time saw a passionate request for more gusto and vigour to be shown as serious improvements were needed if the side were to gain their first home win of the season.
Again the Angels started brightly and Reynolds came within inches of breaking the deadlock as he capitalised on a defensive error, but saw his effort bounce agonisingly wide. Soon after, Walsham made their first change as they introduced Miller into the proceedings and his energy had the desired effect.
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On 67 minutes, Town took the lead. Miller's pass broke the Kirkley rearguard and Darren Patterson latched onto it, bore down on goal and fired into the roof of the net. Miller went close to doubling the lead as he broke down the right but made a hash of his shot as he fired wildly off-target.
The final quarter sparked into life and contained three controversial decisions that ultimately resulted in The Angels grabbing the three points.
On 81 minutes, with Walsham's performance becoming nervy and fatigued, the visitors equalised. A deep cross was half cleared before being returned to the area, where a Kirkley striker, who was standing four yards offside, tapped the ball back for French to blast home.
The Angels, who replaced James Marsh with Davison at the time of the equaliser, recovered from this setback and should have regained the lead on 85 minutes. Following a spot of pinball around the area, a clear handball was missed by the assistant referee. To be fair to all involved, the ball dropped to Patterson who missed the target from 12 yards, but how the infringement was missed only the individual involved could answer.
Just as it seemed that Walsham would be frustrated in their efforts, they were awarded a penalty in injury time. Abbs was deemed to have been fouled, and Tindall stepped up only to see his spot kick clawed away. Thankfully, the ball bounced out to Will Deledicq who reacted well to guide the ball back into the bottom corner out of the reach of Thacker's despairing dive.
Referee Garrod soon brought an end to proceedings much to the relief of the Town management who must have been wondering what they needed to do gain the three points.
This win ensured the Angels stayed on the coat tails of the top six but now have two big away games against Beccles and Blofield before hosting Spixworth on November 16 and Norwich United in the Senior Cup on November 27.
Walsham Reserves returned from Beccles with a vital three points. Despite trailing by two goals, they recovered and, inspired by a Daniel Broom hat-trick, grabbed a 7-2 win to ease relegation fears.
The A team went down by 2-1 at home to unbeaten East Ruston, whilst the Sunday side plummeted to new depths with a truly pitiful display at Norman Wanderers Reserves.
It was evident to all that the Halloween parties the previous evening played a major part in the embarrassing 8-0 defeat.