Wisbech boss Appleby goes on the offensive

Wisbech Town boss Steve Appleby has said the passion shown by his players during a midweek 9-0 Ridgeons Premier Division defeat made him proud to be their manager.

The Fenmen had three players sent off as they crumbled to their heaviest defeat in four years away at Mildenhall Town.

But Appleby insisted it was the only time in his life that he had ever seen a team 'clapped off the pitch having suffered a 9-0 defeat'.

In a statement posted on the club's fans' forum this week, Appleby praised the bravery of his players and said that an official report on the referee Marc Wilson's performance would be submitted to the FA.

'I for one was proud to be their manager and for me to say that on the back of a 9-0 defeat seems ridiculous but anybody who witnessed the game knows truly what went on,' he said. 'The boys showed passion and commitment to the cause.'

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Simon Ashton and Neal Spafford picked up the first red cards of their career and Callum Reed was also dismissed for two bookings during the Ridgeons Premier Division rout.

Appleby said: 'We were on top for most of the first half, even after we went down to nine men. Early second half we went down to eight men and at that point it was still only 1-0.

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'Obviously the lads tired and it resulted in the heavy defeat we witnessed. Under most circumstances, I and the players should look at ourselves as to why this kind of result happened. The buck stops with us, after all.

'But, someone else had a major influence on the result as I don't think it was Mildenhall who beat us.

'I won't go on here and slate a referee but we all know what happened and in due course an official report will be made through the correct channels. I went to see our secretary to ask for this to be done with the full backing of the chairman.

'This is not a case of sour grapes from a manager after a heavy defeat, it's just that during the course of this season already, things have not gone for us that are out of our hands.

'Yes, you've got to stand up and be counted but when decisions like Tuesday night's are having such a profound effect on a game, it's time to make a stand as a club.'

Appleby condemned Saturday's 4-1 FA Cup First Qualifying Round defeat to Wroxham as 'woeful' but hit out at fans who directed 'personal abuse' at his players and assistant manager Chris Dear - who has since announced his decision to step down from the Fenmen's coaching team.

He said: 'During the game, several of the players were criticised loudly by a small section of our supporters and Chris Dear received some abuse in the bar afterwards.

'I for one believe that a supporter should be allowed to express criticism/praise here on the forum, on the Facebook page or at the game.

'But several of the players have come to me and said they were abused. That I do not agree with. A proper supporter goes through thick and thin and what I can assure you is no player goes out there to play badly.

'Yes, you should be allowed to express your opinion quite freely. Football is all about opinions and during the game and on the internet, I've never had a problem. So, please keep doing what you are doing, but cut out the personal abuse as that is something I will not stand for.'

Dear declined to go into details for his decision to step down after 19 months.

Much-liked Dear, known as Dearo, has been Steve Appleby's right-hand man since he took charge of the Fenmen in February 2010.

But he decided to call it a day during a weekend when he'd taken charge of the side in Appleby's absence and received abuse in the bar from a supporter after the club's 4-1 FA Cup First Qualifying Round defeat to Wroxham.

Dear, in a statement on the club's website, said: 'After 19 months as assistant manager at the club I resigned on Sunday morning.

'I have considered this decision since and still feel it is the correct one. I still hold the club in the highest esteem and wish Apps (Appleby) and the lads the very best for the rest of the season.

'I have informed Apps and club chairman Barry Carter of the reasons why I have taken this decision, but these will remain private as the integrity of the club is at the forefront of my mind.'

The successful duo led Fenland's biggest football club to their first trophy in 16 years in May.

Dear - who played for the Fenmen during his playing career - has said he'll remain involved with the club because he's arranging several commercial opportunities for the club to become better funded.

He also said: 'I would like to thank the supporters, Apps, the players and the board of directors for the past 19 months.

'I am still extremely proud of our achievements over this period including the first trophy in 16 years for the club and will remain an avid supporter of the Fenmen.'

Appleby is expected to manage the side alone while he works out who he wants to replace Dear as his assistant.

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