Wroxham 2, Maldon & Tiptree 2: Yachtsmen let two-goal lead slip on final day
Wroxham ended their debut season in the Ryman League with a frustrating Trafford Park draw after leading 2-0 at the interval.
On paper it was a decent result against the team which finished runners-up in Division One North – having led the table for much of the season – especially having been well beaten in the away game.
And manager David Batch had cause to be well satisfied with the way a young side, including the promising Joe Marsden at right-back and Rio Starkings at centre-back, played.
They took the game to the visitors from the off and played far the better football throughout the first half having taken a deserved lead after nine minutes when a superb cross from Matt Daniels found Ross Durrant unmarked at the far post to volley home from six yards.
The visitors should have levelled in the 21st minute when Maldon's left-back was left unmarked at the far post, but he headed over from close range. Ben Thompson was just off target for Wroxham with a cracking volley from 30 yards but Maldon missed another great chance after Andy Eastaugh failed to clear a cross – the resulting shot being fired straight into the arms of Hilton from eight yards.
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Wroxham doubled their lead just before the interval when Starkings lofted the ball over the top to send Thompson clear to lob the keeper.
Having failed to take their chances in the first half, the visitors dominated the second. Matt Blake had a speculative effort on target from around 40 yards which the Maldon keeper did well to save – but that was the closest the Yachtsmen came to a goal in the half.
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The fight-back began after 54 minutes when Maldon were awarded a free-kick which was delivered deep into the area, where it was powerfully headed home by Ollie Berquez.
The rest of the game was a backs to the wall effort for the Yachtsmen as Maldon pressed for the equaliser – which came five minutes from time when a mistake by Ben Jones let Berquez in to claim his second. The Essex side now face Aveley in the play-offs while Thameside face Witham Town.
Wroxham finished 15th to give Batch a platform from which to plan a second season at this level – which will be given added spice by the arrival of Norfolk rivals Dereham.