Point at Thetford allays any lingering relegation worries for Walsham boss

EVEN CONTEST: Walshams Craig Nurse (right) looks to hold off a challenge  from Johnny Conroy
EVEN CONTEST: Walshams Craig Nurse (right) looks to hold off a challenge from Johnny Conroy
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THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE

PREMIER DIVISION

Thetford Town 1

Walsham-le-Willows 1

The fog made visibility tough at Mundford Road last Friday, but as far as Walsham manager Paul Smith was concerned, his side’s performance oozed clarity.

A run of six games without a win, during which 21 goals had been conceded, saw Willows make the trip to Mundford Road in the relegation zone.

But, after securing the point that lifted them out of the bottom three, Smith witnessed more than enough from his players to banish any thoughts of falling through the Premier Division trap door.

“Coming here tonight and putting in this performance shows we have more than enough quality to stay up,” he reasoned.

“It is a good point. Thetford have done well this season so we came over here as underdogs.

“We just wanted to stop the rot, so we got bodies behind the ball and made it hard for them. But we also created some chances up the other end.

“Once you’re in a losing run, it is hard to get out of it. Hopefully we can gain some confidence from this.”

When Smith delivered his pre-match team talk, he would no doubt have called for a good start, and that is exactly what the visitors produced in the third minute.

Craig Nurse’s corner from the right caused uncertainty within the Thetford ranks, leaving Ryan Gibbs to power in a header at the back post.

Jack Brame flashed a half-volley from the edge of the box inches wide as Walsham sought a second goal, while up the other end Thetford’s Luke Bailey will feel he should have done better after shrugging off the attention of his marker to meet Cameron King’s inviting free-kick.

King’s influence on proceedings grew — despite Walsham’s rather physical approach to negating the ex-Norwich City man — yet it was another Thetford midfielder that restored parity in the 38th minute.

Walsham’s Josh Curry surrendered possession cheaply just inside his own half and the hosts sprung forward.

The ball was eventually worked to Max Melanson, who from almost 30 yards out, left Walsham goalkeeper Craig Brand rooted to the spot with his looping effort.

As the fog descended, chances were few and far between during the second half, with the best of what was created falling to Thetford.

Leading marksman Robbie Priddle smartly found the net only to have his celebrations cut short by an offside flag, with winger Johnny Curry seeing his curler tipped around the post by Brand.

Despite the dropped points, Thetford boss Danny White refused to be too despondent.

“They were fighting forpoints so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” he said.

“We have come on massively. What people have to take into consideration is that the team has changed so much.

“We are also unbeaten in four games, so there is no reason to be negative.”

n On Wednesday, Walsham lost 2-1 to Haverhill Rovers in the League Challenge Cup.

n On Boxing Day, Walsham host Swaffham Town (11am), while on Tuesday, Thetford travel to Mildenhall Town (3pm).

Thetford: Barnes, Bond, McIntosh, R Bailey, Sanders, L Bailey, Conroy, Melanson, Fuller, (Anderson) Priddle, King

Walsham: Brand, Sim, Peters, Morton, N Clarke, Nurse, Gibbs, Curry, Brame, Wood, R Clarke

Free Press Man of the Match: Cameron King (Thetford)

Attendance: 108