Reserves match abandoned when North Walsham went down to 6 players after 85 minutes
By Ivor Darby
Reserves leading 7-1 when the referee abandoned the match.
A bizarre second half saw the referee abandon the match after 85 minutes when North Walsham were reduced to 6 players with the sin-binning (or it might have been a Red!) of one of their players, with 4 others having already been Red Carded, shown 2 Yellows or been Sin-Binned twice. At the time Fakenham Reserves were leading 7-1 so we now await the leagues deliberation at their next Management meeting at the end of January 2019 to determine what the outcome is to be - a replay, the result to stand or just be awarded the game (3 points but no goals to be added).
The Reserves welcomed Dan Payne back from injury, Stephen Harvey
& Connor Laskey
from 1st team squad duties and gave an introduction to adult football to another of the U18 players, Samir Suleman
, who came straight into the starting eleven with two more U18 players Archie Savage
and Charlie Alcott
on the bench (well Charlie was only keeping the seat warm as he failed a fitness test before the match). Game started and 30 seconds later game stopped when James Slater was the recipient of a blow to the head as he challenged for an aerial ball and went down with blood pouring from a wound. 3 or 4 minutes later he was helped off to receive some more treatment, returning after 5 minutes with a tasteful white bandage (not that it stayed white for very long) adorning his head. Fakenham opened the scoring through Joe Harrison
after 5 minutes. A free kick, deep to the far post found Harrison and he converted the chance very easily. The game settled down with both teams looking to attack and it was North Walsham who scored next after 18 minutes, through their No 10 Omar Lahfa, a good finish but caused by some defensive lapses in marking and covering. Walsham so nearly took the lead 5 minutes later when a free kick by their No 9 Lawrence Hare was struck very hard along the gound into the penalty area, it wasn't cleared properly and, from 5 metres out, a Walsham player put in a great shot at the goal but saw it rebound off the post and away. So the game started to get 'interesting' after 32 minutes when Walsham's No 8 Paul Sizer was sin-binned (not quite sure why - something said or perceived by the referee to be said!). Now a man short, Fakenham piled on the pressure and scored twice in the next 10 minutes. First goal came from James Slater, a great cross by Samir Suleman
found Ben Darby
at the far post, he looped it gently back over the defenders and onto the head of the oncoming Slater whose firm header beat everyone (well it didn't quite beat everyone, a defender deflected it into the goal but hey, it's Slaters goal!!) . Five minutes later Slater scored his second when a high cross into the Walsham area saw the keeper out to punch the ball away but he only punched the ball very high and slightly backwards and there was Slater when the ball descended 1 metre out from goal, no keeper, an empty net and a tap-in (awarded despite vigourous appeals for off-side - by this stage the Walsham (player) linesman, who had raised his flag for offside every single time Fakenham put a ball into the Walsham half, was being ignored by the referee who was deciding for himself if it was offside). Just as the half was finishing, the Walsham No 4 Michael Somerfield was Yellow Carded for a tackle, then must have said something as a Red Card was produced as he was walking away from the referee. So 3-1 to Fakenham at half-time with no one expecting a second half quite like the one that transpired. North Walsham, down to 10, brought on their player manager, Rod Drake at the start of the half. Two minutes in, No 11 Ryan Beeson was Yellow Carded after a challenge on the Fakenham keeper Bond. On 53 minutes No 3 Craig Wright was also Yellow Carded for a challenge. Joe Harrison
then made it the score 4-1 when a well judged through ball by Ben Darby
found Harrison one on one with the keeper - only one winner in that contest. At this stage everything became bizarre - Rod Drake was Red Carded for a foul on Stephen Harvey
, his first challenge since coming on 10 minutes earlier and deserving, at the most, a Yellow. Very, very soon after Sizer received his second Sin-Bining so, in efect couldn't return once the 10 minutes had been served. A Sin-bin was also imposed upon No 5 Adam Johnson so that's Walsham short of 4 players for the next 10 minutes and short of 3 thereafter. Harrison scored his third after 75 minutes , another great through ball by Darby and Harrison just got to the ball before the keeper and poked it past him into the net. Darby himself had a (mad!) 5 minute spell with a booking, a goal, a penalty (for what everyone asked?) which he converted. Was the offender Red Carded, just not sure because everyone had lost the plot by then but a Walsham player certainly was for a poor challenge on Suleman. So that's Walsham short of 4 players - a player was then removed? by the referee for deliberately hoofing the ball out of the ground, Sizer, by now running the line for Walsham, was dismissed from that duty by the referee (verbals?) and that basically ended the match. Very strangely the no 15 shirt worn by the dismissed Rod Drake had suddenly came back onto the pitch but not worn by Drake?. The plot had definitely been lost by this reporter. To be honest it wasn't a violent game, there appeared to be no particular actions towards the referee that warranted his reactions, so the outcome almost became predictable as the cards and sin-binning of the second half continued, with the Walsham players becoming more and more upset and confused by what was occuring. Onto next Saturday and a vist to last season's arch nemesis Easton on their 3G pitch. #COYG