After spending most of the week in luxury in a warm hotel in Malta, it was back to earth with a bump on Saturday. I had acclimatised after having spent the morning seeing Ely Crusaders beat Soham United 3-1. My original plan had been to follow this up with a trip to King's Lynn to see them take on Buxton who I used to follow many years ago. However, the trains fought against me and I decided to spend my afternoon at another muddy field and see Thetford take on Walsham le Willows.
Thetford, like Ely, find themselves at the wrong end of the Eastern Counties League table this season, while Walsham are in one of those league places where they don't have to worry about ground upgrades for promotion or being relegated.
Thetford were clearly up for the battle though and in the 3rd minute took the lead when a cross / strike from the left by Steve Harley caught out Duncan McNally in the Walsham goal and ended up in the back of the net. It looked from then on that McNally might struggle a bit and for the first 25 minutes Thetford were on the attack and looked like they might extend their lead. Walsham also created chances, but none that seemed to trouble keeper Scott Cruikshank. Then Walsham did turn the screw a bit, but were unable to score. Thetford also looked to score again with some great moves from Tom Bryant causing them all sorts of troubles and McNally looking short of confidence. The first half carried on in this vain until the 42 minute when an injury to Thetford forward Luke Catchpole, which luckily doesn't seem that serious led to all sorts of confusion.
After a period of about 10 minutes the ref took the players off the pitch and declared it half time. When they had finally sorted out the problem they played the last few minutes of the first half and then started the second half by just swapping ends. It was odd to say the least, but as Thetford ended up playing in an old Ely strip last week, as they had forgotten their away kit, it seems like odd anecdotes of the type Baker and Kelly are fond of follow them around at the moment.
Walsham clearly meant business in the second half and on 49 minutes Cruikshank pulled off a brilliant save to deny the visitors. At the other end 3 minutes later Nathan Birch denied Walsham by clearing off the line. It wasn't all Walsham though as Matt Dixon also came close for Thetford. It wasn't to be for Thetford though, as on 61 minutes Jack Brame got the goal over the line for the Willows after a goalmouth scramble. Both players went searching for the win, but on 86 minutes Paul Musgrove hit the winner for Walsham. Despite throwing the kitchen sink at it, McNally stepped up on his dodgy performance and Thetford unluckily went away from the game with zero points.
I think that Thetford can take some positives from the performance though. They played well and seemed to have more about them than the teams that are in trouble at the bottom of the division with them. They should be fine, but football is a cruel game.