Walsham manager: Our title race is over after defeat to ‘champions’

HOME DEFEAT: Stowmarket Town goalscorer Matt Hayden goes into combat with Halstead Town's James Raby during the Gold and Blacks' 4-1 loss at Greens Meadow on Saturday
HOME DEFEAT: Stowmarket Town goalscorer Matt Hayden goes into combat with Halstead Town's James Raby during the Gold and Blacks' 4-1 loss at Greens Meadow on Saturday
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THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE

PREMIER DIVISION

Walsham-le-Willows 1

Wisbech Town 3

Walsham-le-Willows boss Paul Smith has all but conceded defeat in the race for the league title after Wednesday’s home loss to Wisbech Town.

The Willows have performed above all expectations this season and had put themselves in with a shout for the championship with eight straight wins, spanning over November and December.

But after Adam Millson’s strike and a brace of penalties from Chris Bacon rendered Nathan Clarke’s equaliser for Walsham meaningless in their crunch clash, Smith believes it is visitors Wisbech who will go on to take the league crown.

“We knew we had to win because they have four games in hand on us and, if we had won, that would have given us that little bit of hope,” he said. “I think we have lost to the team that is going to win the league.

“They have got that little more experience and that made them win the game.”

The Willows travel to seventh-placed Hadleigh United tomorrow (3pm), with Smith determined to finish the season as strongly as possible.

“We want to finish as high as we can,” he said. “We’ve had a fantastic season and we are not going to let it drop.”

There was little to choose between the two teams in the opening exchanges.

The home side thought they could have had a penalty when Ollie Hughes was sent away by Jack Brame and went down under a challenge from Paul Cousins, but the referee waved play on.

Despite little action at either goalmouth, the deadlock was broken on 26 minutes.

Bacon delightfully back-heeled the ball to Millson inside the box and he made no mistake for the visitors.

But the hosts levelled just four minutes later.

Andrew Cusack swung a corner in from the right-hand side that was met powerfully by Clarke, who headed beyond the hapless Lea Jordon in the Wisbech goal.

The away side regained the lead seven minutes after half-time. Lee Sim lost his composure by bringing down Joe Jackson in the box, and Bacon coolly dispatched the penalty beyond Duncan McAnally.

Nathan Clarke went close with a ferocious volley and Hughes was denied by a last-gasp tackle as Walsham looked for an equaliser.

But as Walsham pushed forward it left gaps at the back.

Neal Spafford appeared to go down very easily from a challenge from goalkeeper McAnally after the ball ricocheted in the box two minutes from time, and Bacon stepped up to sidefoot his penalty home.

Walsham: McAnally, Sim (Jopling, 79), Cusack, Morton, Newman, N Clarke, Thorrold (R Clarke, 74), Foster, Hughes, Brame, Agricole. Subs not used: Musgrove, Robinson, Bryant

MATCH STATS

Walsham Wisbech

Shots on target 3 5

Shots off target 2 1

Woodwork 0 0

Corners 8 5

Offsides 0 2

FK conceded 15 14