Walsham-le-Willows battle back from two goals down to draw with Woodbridge Town in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division
A few stern words were required at half-time, but Fergus O’Callaghan saw his unbeaten streak as Walsham-le-Willows manager stretch to five matches with Wednesday evening’s 2-2 home draw against Woodbridge Town.
Two goals within the space of three first-half minutes put the visiting Woodpeckers, who would have jumped up to second in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table with a win, in command of proceedings.
Ryan Twinn pulled a goal back just before the break and then – perhaps with the boss’ sentiments at the forefront of their thinking – Walsham were much the better side in the second half and were rewarded late on with a Matt Collins penalty that secured a share of the spoils.
It continues third-from-bottom Walsham’s upward trend since O’Callaghan replaced Trevor Newman last month, and he was particularly pleased with the team’s second-half reaction.
“I was very disappointed at half-time. There is a board in the dressing room of the values we should have and I could not tick too many of them off at that point,” he said.
“We did not dictate them enough on the ball and gave them too much space. They have got lots of quality and you cannot afford to do that.
“Being down the bottom like we are, it is all about making the players believe these are the things they have to do.
“It has been a little bit tough to lift them because losing is a habit, but these are good players with good strengths.
“Our goal late in the first half maybe papered over the cracks but we stepped up in the second half.
“They were more confident and believed in what they were doing – that is crucial. In the end we could have nicked more.
“Playing football at this level is a hobby so you have to enjoy it and the boys did that in the second half. They reacted very well.”
Woodbridge broke the deadlock in the 18th minute when former Ipswich Town midfielder Carlos Edwards’ cross from the right wing flew over Walsham goalkeeper Dan Stobbart and inside the far post.
And they scored again just three minutes later – this time Edwards was the provider for Kelsey Trotter, who took one touch before calmly slotting in.
It was sink or swim time for Walsham, and to their credit they refused to roll over.
Twinn got them back into the contest in the 44th minute as he latched on to the rebound after Alfie Stronge had thwarted Ryan Clark.
Both goalkeepers were called into action during the second half, with the visitors’ Stronge the busier of the two.
He turned away Clark’s curling effort shortly after the restart and then showed good reflexes to push clear Lee Hammond’s dipping half volley from 25 yards out with 70 minutes on the clock.
But his resistance was eventually broken six minutes from time when Kieran Hagan’s powerful effort was adjudged to have been handled inside the box and Collins stepped up to send Stronge the wrong way from the spot.
Walsham: Stobbart, Warren, Peters, Collins, Miller, Saffrey, Twinn, Hammond, Jennings, Clark. Hagan
Unused subs: J Spampantao, McPhillips, Hubbard, Nicholls
Express Man of the Match – Matt Collins: Energetic in midfield and rarely wasted possession before he kept his cool to secure Walsham a point.
* Fifteenth-placed Ely City, who are six points above Walsham having played a game more, will be the visitors to the Moorish Sports Ground tomorrow (3pm).