Wisbech boss condemns ‘inept’ display

Wisbech 0, Hadleigh 3

WISBECH Town boss Steve Appleby condemned the worst performance of his time in charge after the Fenmen crumbled to only their second home defeat of the season.

It was a miserable effort from Wisbech, who gifted Hadleigh United three goals in the first half an hour to leave themselves in a hopeless position.

The visitors took the lead with a tame-looking strike from the edge of the area before a calmly taken penalty and a cool striker’s finish left the shell-shocked Fenmen reeling.

Despite a slight improvement in the second half, Wisbech couldn’t muster a comeback and the dismal Fenmen ended up limping to one of their worst results of a topsy-turvy season.

Appleby said: “I’m lost for for words really. It goes down as probably the worst performance while I’ve been here.

“I just thought we were terrible. I think the lads owe an apology to the supporters because it was really not good.

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“You can make excuses about a hard pitch and a windy day but it’s the same for them. To me they wanted it more and had more desire.

“We are a squad and I’m part of that - win, lose or draw. But when they cross the white line I can’t do a lot about it.

“Today is one of them where I don’t think it would have mattered what I’d done, it was that shocking. A totally inept performance.

“You can’t even single one lad out that played well. I would refuse to give a man of the match because they were all that bad.”

Wisbech’s performance was a stark contrast to Tuesday night’s 3-0 victory against Newmarket Town - and the Fenmen’s misery began after just 15 minutes.

Hadleigh edged the scrappy opening exchanges and took the lead through playmaker Luke Read. The midfielder found space at the edge of the box and hit a precise finish into the bottom corner, with goalkeeper Lea Jordan rooted to the spot.

The home crowd were forced to wait 20 minutes for Wisbech’s first effort on goal and Darren Jimson’s strike failed to satisfy, as he smashed over from just inside the area.

The Fenmen should have been level soon afterwards as Jimson’s deft backheel put Ash Stevens through on goal. But the striker failed to get his shot away and was denied by a last-ditch challenge.

Things went from bad to worse for Wisbech after 25 minutes, when Lewis Thompson survived a big shout for handball only to scythe down the onrushing Hadleigh striker.

The referee pointed to the spot and Josh Mayhew stepped up to power Hadleigh into a 2-0 lead.

The nightmare continued for Wisbech and, minutes later, Lea Jordan was again forced to retrieve the ball from the back of his net.

A hopeful-looking ball forward was fortuitously controlled by Ben Deacon but there was nothing lucky about his finish - the striker lifting the ball past Jordan to stun the Tom Wood’s Beer Fenland Stadium into silence.

Wisbech’s frustration was typified by Callum Reed, who was booked for dissent after being controversially penalised for handball.

It was Reed who provided the rare moments of quality for the Fenmen. His pass released Stevens for the second time but again the striker could not convert.

Thompson almost handed Wisbech a lifeline just before the interval but his bullet header was superbly saved by Hadleigh ‘keeper Louis Johnson.

An already unhappy Appleby was forced into a reshuffle at half time, with centre-back Anthony Reeve picking up a knock.

Paul Jones came on in midfield with Scott Johnson moving to full back and Stacy Cartwright switching to centre-back to deputise for Reeve.

Jones did bring some control to the struggling Wisbech midfield but it was not enough to spark his team-mates into life.

The home side’s play was littered with errors and desperate long balls were being gleefully headed back at Wisbech by the towering Hadleigh defenders.

A miserable day for Stevens was ended after an hour when Andy Furnell was thrown on to try his luck against a ruthlessly efficient Hadleigh back line.

Reed curled a free-kick over the bar and Furnell headed wide as Wisbech pushed to get back in the game.

Young substitute Nathan Watson almost scored with his first touch, as only a fantastic save from Johnson prevented his drive from finding the bottom corner.

But the Fenmen never looked like forcing their way back into contention and Hadleigh closed the game out to seal a deserved three points.

Appleby said: “I don’t think we’ve troubled them at all really. They’re not a bad side and they’re having a good year but we’ve got to do better than that.

“We tried to have a go at them at half time to get a response. We huffed and puffed in the second half and did slightly better but it’s not good enough.”

Wisbech travel to Norwich United on Tuesday night, as they look to build some momentum before their crucial league cup semi-final with Stowmarket Town at the end of the month.

“Some of the lads won’t be here for the cup game if they keep playing like that,” said Appleby.

“There is plenty of football to play this month and if they keep playing like that, they’ll be off shopping with their missus’ on a Saturday instead. It ain’t good enough and I think they know that.

“We can’t just keep saying that wasn’t good enough. We seem to have two good games and then a bad one. That’s inconsistency and you won’t win things with that. We have to iron that out. There’s no escaping how poor we were today.”

Wisbech: Jordan, Flanz, Cartwright, Fairweather, Reeve (Jones, 45), Reed (Watson, 76), Thompson, Weston, D Jimson, Stevens (Furnell, 60), Johnson.

Man of the match: Not an easy choice, with none of the Fenmen covering themselves in glory. Paul Jones was as good as any - he gave his side a foothold in the game in the second half and kept possession better than some of his team-mates to give the Fenmen some much-needed control. But his performance will be no consolation to his manager on a desperately disappointing afternoon for Wisbech.