Last-gasp goal earns North Walsham FC a point
North Walsham 3 St Andrews 3
North Walsham outplayed St Andrews for much of the game but the spoils were shared in a thrilling draw with stalwart Steve Lawrence getting the equaliser deep into stoppage time.
Town made five changes to the side narrowly beaten at Dersingham with Newton in for Clarke, Gray for Robertson, Lawrence for Davis, who was unavailable with work, Gauntlett for Danny Skipper and Joy for the unavailable Broom.
Walsham dominated proceedings in the early stages and fashioned their first clear chance when a crisp interchange led to Joy striking the ball sweetly, left footed, but the keeper was equal to it and tipped spectacularly over.
However, Walsham's defensive problems came back to haunt them and against the run of play the away side had a corner kick which was headed in against a static defence with 15 minutes gone.
Town responded well but could not find a way past the St Andrews keeper and went in at the break undeservedly 1-0 down.
The home side started well in the second half only for the visitors to move 2-0 ahead. St Andrews had counter attacked and won a corner. The cross was accurate, the player unmarked again and a downward header found the back of the net.Town were not learning their lesson and had a mountain to climb.
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To the team's credit, they kicked off and carried on playing the same way – confidently, with good passing and belief that they could get something from the game and within moments of the goal had won a free-kick. Skipper drove goalwards only for the keeper to push over for a corner.
The pressure and free-kicks kept coming and Town eventually got their reward on 55 minutes. The free -kick came back to Wheeler, whose shot was blocked, and Reynolds kept his cool to lay the ball off to Joy who drove the ball right footed low to the keeper's right and into the corner of the net. The home side were buoyant and within a few minutes went close again. Newton, Davies and Skipper combined well and laid the ball off to Crosby, who shot over.
On the hour, joy turned to pain once more and despite the home pressure it was St Andrews who scored next to made it 3-1 to leave Town with the task of scoring twice without reply in the last half hour. A defence splitting pass found the striker in debatably an offside position and with plenty of time he bore down on goal and beat Murphy.
North Walsham would not let their heads drop, kicked off and within a minute had got back within a goal again with a stunning solo effort. Reynolds played the ball up to Skipper, who started his dribble from outside the area in the inside left channel, and twisted and turned. With with the keeper closing him down he nudged it past him, low to his right but with minimal pace on the ball it only trickled over the line.
Town had belief once more that they could get something from the game while Skipper celebrated his second goal in as many matches.
Walsham stepped up the pressure in the last 10 minutes. First a free-kick was driven long, won comfortably by Reynolds in the air, but his header across the six yard box was not anticipated by anyone and soon after Gray put a great ball in from the right hand side but it was headed away with Crosby waiting to pounce.
Gray, who was demanding the ball at every opportunity and driving the team forward, then shot wide after a patient build-up with only a minute left on the clock.
With two minutes of stoppage time gone, amongst confusion over how much time was left, Town won a corner after Newton's shot was blocked. The corner found its way to Gray again, and he delivered a cross from the left which travelled all the way to the back post where Lawrence watched it like a hawk and pounced from close range to send the home players, management and supporters into raptures and make it all square at 3-3. Within 20 seconds the referee blew his whistle for full time with the Angels having been rewarded for their never-say-die attitude.
Next up for Walsham, weather permitting, is another crunch game at bottom side Hempnall on Saturday afternoon.