Cup joy for North Walsham FC as Reserves win final
North Walsham Town Res 2 Stalham Res 1
North Walsham Town Reserves regained the CS Morley Cup after a 16-year wait in front of a healthy crowd at Trafford Park, Wroxham.
With skipper Williams and defender Robertson unavailable manager Johnson tweaked his line-up and included veteran Drake in defence and employed McGilway in midfield alongside Gilby and Harwood. The Angels made the worst possible start as they fell behind within 20 seconds. A dangerous cross from the Stalham right flank was only half cleared, where it fell to Ross Charlton and he expertly drilled home from 18 yards.
Walsham were on the ropes at this stage and the underdogs from Rivers Park were continually exposing Town's defensive frailties. On three occasions, Walsham were indebted to goalkeeper Charlie Harkness as his reflexes and shot-stopping ensured they stayed in the game.
As the game reached the quarter hour mark, Town seemed to gain strength from the fact that they were only one goal adrift and the equaliser duly arrived on 19 minutes. Payne ran at the Stalham backline but was unable to get off his shot cleanly and showed great unselfishness to tee up Stu Dunlop to fire into the roof of the net.
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This strike seemed to galvanise The Angels and Harwood began to orchestrate Town's attacks as McGilway supported Broom's and Payne's effervescent forward play, while the defence looked more solid.
The all important third goal came on the half hour. Gilby's deep, hanging corner was ideal for Ryan Clarke to leap highest to divert the ball home from close range.
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The remainder of the half was fairly even with Stalham looking to strike back and Walsham searching for the killer third goal.
The second half saw Town start far brighter and Broom was asking questions of the opponents with his forceful running. The Angels continued to probe and always looked more likely to score.
The best chances of the half all seemed to fall to Walsham, with McGilway heading over from Edge's wicked delivery and also blasting inches over after Payne's initial strike had rocked the woodwork. Payne also hit the side netting after a driving run into the box.
The final five minutes saw Stalham throw everything forward in search of an equaliser. Youngsters Johnson, Page and Ward all got a taste of the action replacing strike duo Broom and Payne, and goal hero Dunlop. Ultimately, Stalham's attempts were in vain as Town held firm with one clearing header from Newton highlighting their desire to succeed.
Credit goes to the whole playing squad and management team that have been involved in a cup run and have emerged from some dark moments to achieve this prize.
Coupled with the first team's successful battle against relegation from the Premier Division, the past month has been a pleasing one and all eyes now fall on the A Team who take on East Ruston in the NEN Division One League Cup on May 18.