Spirited Angels now look for win
NORTH Walsham played host to local rivals and Anglian Combination champions-elect Cromer Town and, despite a spirited effort, succumbed to a 4-2 defeat.
The Angels made four changes. Dunlop, ex-Crab James Marsh, and Abbs came in, with Cini and Miller dropping to the bench and Foulser out injured. The last change saw a debut for Matty Atkins, signed from Attleborough Town. With Beane making up the bench, this allowed Randall to return to the Reserves. The visitors included four ex-Angels in their squad, Hinton, Wilton, Landamore and Harwood.
The first half was frenetic, despite being punctuated by stoppages due to two injuries to the visitors. Landamore landed heavily following an aerial challenge and was unable to continue. Midway through the half, a collision between Fitzgerald and Cromer keeper Osborne saw the Crab come off worse and get stretchered off the field. Bradshaw donned the gloves and Harwood entered the fray.
The effort displayed by Walsham was exemplary, as they matched their more illustrious opponents, but they found themselves one down on 27 minutes. Referee Smith harshly adjudged Davison to have fouled Horton and Harwood's curled effort was palmed away by Kellett. Cromer wide man Craig Terrington was first to react and he pounced on the rebound to smash home. The award of the free-kick was made all the more galling minutes later, when Cromer sub Honeyman's lunge went unpunished.
Just before half-time, Cromer doubled their lead. Slack defending saw Walsham surrender possession before allowing a low cross to elude everyone except Darren Terrington at the far post to tap home.
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The break saw the management team ask the players to play with no fear and be brave in their attempts to gain something from the game. This they achieved, as they gained supremacy and began to ask questions of the visiting defence.
They reduced the arrears on 65 minutes when a Davies corner bounced around the area before James Marsh fired past a helpless Bradshaw.
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Cini and Miller had joined proceedings, replacing Abbs and Robert Marsh and Town adopted a more attacking formation.
But Cromer restored their two-goal cushion when Terrington was given the freedom of the Town box to steer his header into the top corner. And with 12 minutes remaining, Cromer added a fourth.
It emanated from a Harwood free-kick that punctured the wall and was too hot for Kellett to handle, and again it was a Cromer player that reacted quickest, Hinton ramming the ball into the net.
The Angels gave themselves a glimmer of hope on 81 minutes. Another ball into the box caused consternation in the Cromer defence and skipper Andy Muir volleyed into the bottom corner.
Walsham tried in vain to salvage something from the game and came close to reducing the arrears further on 85 minutes when Cini broke clear and fired low, but Bradshaw's body deflected the ball inches wide.
Town's thoughts now turn to the massive encounter at Brandon on Saturday, where three points are an absolute must.
Town hope to have Tindall available following a six-week lay-off and also be boosted by a couple of new faces. Chris Wigger's Cromer now seem destined for the title as they sit 13 points clear at the summit of the division.
On a sorry weekend for the club, the Reserves returned from Cabbell Park where their Cromer counterparts capitalised on a woeful first-half display to race into a 3-0 lead. A spirited fightback saw Town get back to 4-3 but ultimately fail in their attempt to gain a point.
They are now in desperate need of three points in their crunch battle with Marlingford on Tuesday, before travelling to second-placed Aylsham on Saturday.
Any hopes the Sunday team had of catching second-placed Hellesdon Athletic were extinguished by a pitiful display at home to lowly Eaton FC and they were deservedly thrashed 4-0.