Jonno proves his worth again as Wisbech Town triumph to reach last eight of FA Vase
- Credit: Archant
Joint-bosses Dick Creasey and Paul Cousins had a huge call to make on Saturday – and that was before Wisbech's massive FA Vase clash in Suffolk had even kicked-off.
Defender Jon Fairweather last week returned to the club following a short stint with Spalding United. But the question on everyone's lips remained the same: for all the young centre-back's undoubted talent, would he have to wait to earn his place back in the side or would he be instantly recalled?
The managerial duo opted to reinstate him immediately, at the expense of the unfortunate Kieron Doherty. And it proved to be a masterstroke.
The 23-year-old was absolutely outstanding at the heart of the Fenmen's defence, alongside one half of the pairing that decided to start him. If Cousins missed a header or tackle, Fairweather was there to bail him out, and vice versa. The comeback kid played as if, like he said, he was happy to be back at Wisbech. He looked like he'd never been away as he shone in both penalty areas.
In a match bereft of genuine chances, the youngster went close with a couple of efforts before he scored the visitors' equaliser on the stroke of half-time. It was a goal their early dominance deserved after the United Counties League Premier Division club had taken control against their table-topping Thurlow Nunn Premier Division opponents.
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Before Fairweather really started to excel, Steven Reid, Adam Millson and the tireless Danny White – all of whom were huge heroes for the Fenmen – controlled the midfield engine room. Their forward movements were linked together by former Football League striker Tony Battersby. The veteran's touches were on a different level to the rest of the players around him.
Yet for all their side's early domination, Hadleigh – dangerous on the counter – took a fortuitous lead when Carl Mackney saved Ryan Stafford's shot only for Cousins' goal-line clearance to cannon straight into Shane Wardley before rebounding into the empty net.
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Fairweather made it 1-1 as he pounced on keeper Fred Howe's attempt to deny Battersby, following fine work from White and Millson in the build-up. And as the second half wore on, if anyone was going to score it was going to be Wisbech, because United didn't look like breaking through the Fenmen's backline.
When White was scythed down by Liam Jennings with about 10 minutes to go, the stage was set for Tom James to mark his final game for the club by slotting home the spot-kick. He obliged to ease Wisbech into the last eight after a heroic display – and an equally brave decision to start the player known fondly as Jonno.
- To read a match report, and see a picture gallery from Saturday's game, click here.