FOOTBALL: Wightwick inspires 10-man Alford to cup win

Football ENGPNL00120130210130301
Football ENGPNL00120130210130301

Mablethorpe Athletic 2-4 Alford Town

A master class by Jack Wightwick inspired 10-man Alford Town to cup victory over Mablethorpe Athletic at the weekend.

Jack Wightwick bagged a brace, won a penalty and was the main reason Alford edged this Junior Challenge Cup quarter final. The rest of the players on the pitch played about as well as each other while Wightwick outshone them all.

This season Wightwick has made at least 13 appearances for Boston Town of the United Counties Premier Division. Players of his calibre belong at clubs like that which are many, many leagues higher than Alford.

Alford had 10 men for most of the afternoon after Joe Irving was dismissed for something he said to the referee. Alford still had a major advantage with Wightwick on their side and he opened the scoring with a fantastic goal.

The young attacker dribbled a long way with the ball, beating several opponents before firing an unstoppable shot in off the left post.

Mablethorpe hoped to equalize sooner rather than later and did so through Courtney Skeldon. Andrew Wyer won the ball in midfield and played in Skeldon who scored his one-on-one with Andrew White.

Soon afterwards Skeldon went from scorer to provider by setting up a goal for Paul Mail. His low cross from the left was tapped in at the far post by Mail.

On the stroke of half time Mitch Whiley almost added a third for Mablethorpe with a powerful strike that hit the side netting.

Things went pear shaped for Mablethorpe in the second half and Alford played better, scoring three goals.

Within seconds of the restart debutante Danny Marshall lifted the ball over Alford’s defence to Alex Carter, whose lob went over. Minutes later Alford equalized and unsurprisingly it was thanks to another great goal by Wightwick

On that occasion Andi Reeson played a quickly taken free kick to Wightwick and his thunderous drive flew into the top right corner.

Soon afterwards Wightwick raced clear and looked poised to complete a hat-trick until Max Billingham thwarted him with an excellent tackle. Jamie Pittam then pulled off a fine save to deny Michael Limb.

In the 77th minute Wightwick won the penalty after he was brought down by Whiley. Reeson took the spot kick and made no mistake to give Alford a 3-2 lead.

Barely a minute later it was 4-2 once Limb intercepted an attempted clearance by Pittam and chipped into the net.

Mablethorpe kept going and should have had a penalty when Wyer was clearly tripped by Nick Hopper in area. To Mablethorpe’s astonishment nothing was given.

Late on Whiley, Wyer and Jake Marshall all came close to scoring a consolation. They didn’t quite manage to though and Alford held on to run out 4-2 winners.

Credit must go to Alford for winning despite having 10 men for most of the afternoon. However, Wightwick was different class and having him was always going to make their task easier.

Indeed football is a team game and the rest of Alford’s players did their bit. One player doesn’t usually make such a big difference, but Wightwick did in this case.

Mablethorpe’s Mick Stubbs had mixed emotions. He said: “Jack Wightwick was unplayable and without him it would have been closer.

“Having said that, we could have done better with all the goals we conceded. We need to address our lack of understanding and working together within the back four quickly.

“There were good individual performances I was pleased with though. Paul Mail played very well as did Andrew Wyer who was our man of the match.”

Mablethorpe are next in action on Saturday, March 28, at home to CGB Humbertherm Reserves in the league (2.30pm).