Late strike is enough to send Wisbech Town through to fourth round of FA Vase
Wisbech Town progressed to the last 32 of the FA Carlsberg Vase with a hard-fought win over re-instated Walsall Wood.
The Fenmen's preparations for the game were hindered by the tie not being confirmed until Thursday afternoon when Spalding United's appeal against their expulsion from the competition was rejected.
Manager Paul Cousins – who missed the game through work commitments – was forced to sign goalkeeper Carl Mackney from Godmanchester Rovers in midweek to cover for the absent Ricky Lovelace, who was also working.
The Wood, mid-table in the Midland Football Alliance Division One, found themselves under pressure from the kick-off and keeper Raajan Gill was thankful that Scott Johnson's lob inside the box dropped wide.
Tom James and Callum Reed both had chances inside the first 10 minutes.
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The home side's first chance arrived in the 18th minute. A high cross into the box nearly caught out Mackney, but he opted for safety and tipped it over the bar for a corner. Following this, Wood enjoyed a period of around 10 minutes during which they tested the Wisbech defence, but the back four – featuring Jon Fairweather in his final appearance before moving to Spalding – held firm.
There was controversy in the 77th minute when home keeper Gill brought down James on the edge of the box, but referee Law decided the offence warranted only a yellow card.
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Wood spurned a glorious chance in the 80th minute when Andre Gonzales found himself in acres of space on the Wisbech right, but he went for goal rather than pick out a better-placed team-mate.
With three minutes of the 90 left and extra-time looming, James latched onto Reed's through-ball and placed a low shot wide of the keeper to win the game and send the Fenmen through to the fourth round for the third season running.
Wisbech Town: Mackney, Doherty, Johnson, Spafford, Fairweather, Millson (Reid 60), Reed (Jezeph 90), White, Battersby, James, Lunn. Att: 103.