Wroxham boss vows to keep his Vase heroes well focused
Needham Market 1, Wroxham 2: Wroxham boss David Batch said he felt 'ten feet tall' after guiding the Yachtsmen to an historic FA Vase quarter-final derby win at Ridgeons League rivals Needham Market.
Wroxham boss David Batch said he felt 'ten feet tall' after guiding the Yachtsmen to an historic FA Vase quarter-final derby win at Ridgeons League rivals Needham Market.
Shaun Howes' early spot-kick and Steve Spriggs' late close-range finish fired Norfolk's sole survivors into today's two-legged semi-final draw at FA headquarters for the first time in their history.
Wroxham survived a second-half onslaught from the hosts to move within 180 minutes of Wembley after former player and manager Damian Hilton's cool penalty had drawn Needham level.
The Yachtsmen could land holders Whitley Bay who crushed fellow north east side Shildon 5-1, Sussex side Whitehawk, who won 3-1 at highly-fancied Gresley or the winners of the postponed tie between Barwell and Norton & Stockton.
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Batch's immediate task is bringing his men back to earth with the Trafford Park outfit on the cusp of becoming Norfolk's first finalists since Diss triumphed in 1994.
"Wroxham, semi-finalists of the FA Vase - it has a nice ring to it," said Batch. "We'll enjoy it for a few days but then we'd be doing ourselves a disservice if we spent more than a couple of days dreaming about it.
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"Let's not get delusions of grandeur. We've got to this stage by playing well and being dogged. If we get carried away it will take our focus off what is achievable - which is winning over two legs. If you'd said to me before the start of the season we'd get Whitley Bay in the semi-finals of the FA Vase then we'd have taken it, but whoever we get, make no mistake, we'll be prepared.
"We'll take a little break from football for a few days and enjoy it and walk around probably feeling ten feet tall, but then we've got Wivenhoe on Tuesday so it's a nice opportunity to get our feet back on the ground."
Batch insisted his underdogs were always confident of inflicting a first home defeat this season on the Ridgeons Premier title challengers - Needham bowing out at the last-eight stage for the second consecutive year.
"I felt that they didn't want to play us," he said. "That was what I took from all the messages coming out of their camp before the game. We were the worst draw they could have got and they knew they were capable of losing.
"They'd choked a couple of times at this stage before and I think they all felt deep down it was set up for them to lose, and we took advantage of that.
"To be honest we should have won here in the league in December, and it was a very similar game. They had spells of good possession, putting balls into our box, and we had to defend well, but that's what the defenders are there to do.
"You see someone like Graham Challen towards the end who has to come off with a cut to his head and face. We bandaged him up and he just went back out again and headed the ball."
Wroxham keeper Scott Howie produced two athletic first-half stops to deny Danny Phillips either side of Howes' powerful spot-kick past former Lynn No 1 Danny Gay.
Pacy front man Spriggs then tumbled inside the penalty box after the interval under Rhys Barber's clumsy challenge before minutes later being crudely upended leading a Wroxham breakout.
"It was a sending-off," said Batch. "A stonewall decision because he was the last man, but the ref said he was quite a way out. It doesn't matter whether Spriggsy was only five yards inside their half at that point, he had a one-on- one and he is a good finisher.
"If I'm being honest, I felt our penalty was a little soft and I didn't expect to get it, and then early in the second half we had another opportunity which the ref didn't give. I actually felt he did well, but at half-time we asked the boys to be aware of making tackles in and around our box because you know in those situations maybe he is looking to even things up.
"When we didn't get either of those decisions in the second half I felt that was him evening it up, so I was surprised when they got a penalty."
Hilton sent Howie the wrong way after he was clipped by Gareth Simpson but Spriggs struck three minutes later from Paul Cook's excellent turn and cross.
Needham continued to pour forward but only Gay's fine point-blank reaction stop foiled Cook deep into added on time.
"It was crucial we scored more or less straight away," said Batch. "That showed a lot of character. We've conceded one goal from the penalty spot now in six games and the gameplan worked to a tee.
"They probably had 20 minutes or so after the break, and you expect that. You're never going to boss a game like this from start to finish but we had to withstand absolutely massive pressure.
"We couldn't just get out and we were getting butchered. We got a couple of subs on to make us a bit more solid in midfield, and once we got ourselves back in front it was about winding down the clock, putting the ball in the corner, and making it hard for them."
Needham Market: Gay, Pemberton, Agricole, Denniss (Buckle 68), Boyland, Barber, Evans (Harrop 45), Parker, Phillips, Hilton, Sparkes (Thrower 45). Subs (not used): Butler, Smy. Bookings: Pemberton, Barber. Goal: Hilton (71)
Wroxham: Howie, Pauling, Howes, Challen, McNeil, Simpson (Eastaugh 75), Spriggs, Lemmon, (Paynter 72), Cook, White, Daniels (Wines 75). Subs not used: Carus, Self, Paynter. Goals: Howes (22), Spriggs (74).
Referee: C Berry (Surrey). Attendance: 601.