Wrington Redhill A travelled to a well organised Portishead Town B side having not had a game since November. This long layoff combined with a lack of any real training or conditioning over the Christmas period showed with it taking a good 20 minutes for the majority to remember the basics of the game. Every player was guilty of a having a heavy touch and lacking sharpness as well as giving the ball away on numerous occasions. One such occasion seeing Portishead take the lead. The back four of Fowkes, Pullen, Clark and Hetherington soon grew into the game though and started to project a bit more calm throughout the side. Wrington however still struggled to get centre midfielders Faulkner and Marsh into the game and were playing too long to make strikers Cole and McMullen a serious threat.
With the half drawing to a close, the away side would’ve been happy enough to escape only 1-0 down but two late set-pieces made the outlook at the break even rosier. First, with a free kick out by the touchline, McMullen floated a ball into the box which Selman, who still had a lot to do, impressively nodded into the far corner to continue his impressive return for the A team. Fowkes, who was impressive all day, then went on a 50 metre sprint down the left hand touchline and released Lucas who skinned his man on the outside – who duly brought him down halfway between the touchline and edge of the penalty box. With an inviting two man wall erected McMullen (photograph) decided to ‘have a go’ this time and whipped the ball into the far right hand stanchion at pace for his 11th of the campaign (and even received plaudits from the referee and opposition manager for the effort!).
So, despite a poor 1st half, Wrington found themselves in front and felt more enthusiastic for the 2nd period. This however quickly turned to frustration as two errors led to two soft goals being scored by the hosts early after the restart to put them 3-2 in front. This lead could’ve been extended had it not been for some sharp stops from ‘Keeper Sharman most notably one down low to his left and a ‘one-on-one’ he kept out with his legs.
Gaffer Marsh then shuffled the pack a bit and brought debutant Tapson on to replace the injured Cole, moving Selman up top. This immediately paid dividends with Selman being able to influence play more easily and immediately slid Faulkner through who saw his effort smartly saved by the opposition goalkeeper. McMullen played Tapson through for his first chance in W&D football but he needed one too many touches allowing the defender to slide in and put the ball out for a corner before Tapson could place the ball into the bottom corner. With time fast running out, Wrington got themselves a free kick around 25 yards out central to goal. McMullen beat the wall and with the ball heading into the bottom corner the home side ‘keeper got down well to his left to claw the ball out – however he could only manage to steer the ball back into the six yard box where it was met by an onrushing Tapson who blazed over the bar with his weaker foot. It was simply too clean a strike from the new signing when any kind of scuffed effort would most probably have found its way in for the equaliser.
Wrington introduced Marshall for the last five minutes in the hope that he could provide a bit magic. He immediately made his aerial presence felt winning more headers than his fellow strikers had in the previous 85 minutes but there simply wasn’t enough time left for him to make the impact required. With Wrington throwing everyone forward for one last attempt to get level, the home side hit on the counter attack and made the full time score line 4-2, a score that certainly doesn’t reflect the story of the game.
Mixed feelings were shared after the final whistle with defeat always difficult to take but a clear improvement in philosophy and quality in the 2nd half shown – despite technically having lost it 3-0!
Frustratingly though, despite having lots of league games remaining and a couple of cup games to schedule, The A’s currently are fixtureless for the rest of January.
Special mention goes to Fowkes who was strong all game and Marsh who played 85 minutes with a broken back but Man of the Match goes to Mike Sharman in between the sticks who was blameless for the four concessions whilst making a couple of impressive stops and commanding his area well.