UEA 3, Wisbech St Mary 0
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League North First Division
The wait for that elusive first win of the season continues for the Saints after the defeat at Dereham this afternoon in a much closer game than the scoreline suggests.
Strikes in the first minute of each half undone the organized and competitive visitors, with a last-minute own goal only rubbing salt in their wounds.
But, despite another loss, the Saints have reason to be cautiously optimistic. When manager Paul Hunt returned in October, the Purples had just been beaten 11-0 at Norwich CBS.
This kind of defeat is no longer inflicted as Hunt has a well trained and fit squad. He also has a decent mix in the squad, with teenagers such as impressive young goalkeeper Tyler Key and hard-working right-back Ben Smith alongside old faces like captain and centre-back Jordan Goult, midfielder Michael Chow and forward Karl Tansley.
With the manager viewing this as a long-term project, the top of his shopping list for next season will however be a creator and goalscorer as the Saints failed to do enough with plenty of possession against opponents at continuation of roadblocks.
But while it is difficult to bring players to Beechings Close with the bottom of the league, Hunt is well known and respected at this level and should be able to add to the squad this summer.
St Mary’s got off to the worst start possible this afternoon, a smooth move from the impressive young home side catching the home defense and seeing Jenson Bark go home in the opening minute.
Earlier in the season, heads would have dropped and this early strike would have been an invitation for an assault. Not now, however, and the Saints had their fair share of possession for the remainder of the half and several times were just the right final ball away from creating serious problems for the home side.
But it was the same story after the break, with UEA scoring once again in the first minute when a corner was headed in powerfully by Archie Smith.
Forward Tansley was then replaced after feeling the effects of a recent Covid fight which also saw Aaron McKenna consigned to the bench and Andy Willmott playing while not fully fit. Left-back Kyle Bird played despite only recently recovering from lengthy Covid, while youngster Harvey Pepper didn’t feature at all after recently contracting the virus.
The visitors pushed on after conceding the second, however, and kept trying to attack, their best chance seeing Kane Baker thwarted by a good save from the home keeper after an excellent through ball from Willmott.
The final goal came in the 90th minute when a great cross from the left by Rohan Bunger was turned into his own by Saints defender Callum Robinson, with a hidden striker at the far post.
The final scoreline was tough for the Saints, but that win will come and, under Hunt, there are far better days ahead.
Wisbech Sainte-Marie: T Key, Smith, Bird, Goult, Robinson, Baker (A Key 80 mins), Willmott, Chow, Tansley (McKenna 50), Brooke (Williams 53), Jose.
Starman: Ben Smith – the 16-year-old has been competitive from first to last whistle and has a very bright future ahead of him.