THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Last Friday’s draw with Gorleston may have extended Walsham-le-Willows’ winless run to six matches, but manager Paul Smith is nevertheless delighted with how his young side have started the new season.
A raft of summer departures had some tipping Walsham for a campaign of struggle, but they have so far defied the doubters, sitting in a healthy ninth position.
And while they twice threw away the lead against Gorleston, the exuberance of youth was there for all to see, particularly during an entertaining second half.
“I think we have exceeded expectations so far,” said Smith.
“We lost a lot of players and have decided to go with a majority of young players.
“The atmosphere among the group is really good — the best it has been for a while.
“It is a bit disappointing to have not won when we have gone in front twice, but the lads showed real battling qualities and we had more chances late on to win it.”
In what was a lacklustre first half, Walsham broke the deadlock in the ninth minute.
Gorleston left-back Alex Kounnas badly under-hit his back pass and the hosts’ Jack Brame pounced to round Tauren Molloy and roll the ball into an empty net.
However, within three minutes the visitors from Norfolk had restored parity.
Walsham failed to fully clear a high ball hoisted into their box and when it dropped loose for Mitch McKay, he fired home with the aid of a slight deflection.
Gorleston’s Peter Lambert blazed over from close range midway through the second half, before Brame restored Walsham’s lead 12 minutes from time.
As with his first goal, the striker was afforded some luck when a sliding challenge only succeeded in knocking the ball clear of a helpless Molloy, leaving a grateful Brame to poke home from a couple of yards out.
But once again the response from Gorleston was swift as Lambert made amends for his earlier miss.
The ball was floated over towards the back post, where the number nine was able to loop it up over Walsham goalkeeper Barry Lynn and into the corner.
It was Walsham that looked the more likely to grab the winner thereafter, with Brame twice going close to completing his hat-trick and skipper Craig Nurse drilling a shot just wide from distance.
Walsham: Lynn, Twinn, Elers, Dongray, Debenham, Nurse, Clarke, Boulter, Clark (Whitby 30), Brame, Peters (Hammond 90)
Free Press Man of the Match - Jack Brame: Scored twice and worked hard as the lone forward
n Walsham’s continuing search for a first victory since the 2-1 triumph over Thetford Town on September 12 takes them to Stanway Rovers tomorrow (3pm).
Hosting Rovers, who currently occupy 16th position in the league standings, head into the encounter on the back of a 4-1 victory over Saffron Walden Town on Tuesday night.