Injury relief for Wisbech Town boss Appleby after derby defeat to March Town United

WISBECH Town boss Steve Appleby believes Tuesday’s derby defeat to March Town United was the fierce friendly his side needed to kick-start a successful season.

The Fenmen were almost plunged into a pre-season nightmare at the GER on Tuesday night, as key players Stacy Cartwright (leg) and Neal Spafford (rib) picked up injuries in a 3-2 defeat in the BKD Cup.

But scans revealed the knocks were not as serious as first feared - with both players set to return within 10 days - and Appleby said Tuesday’s hard-fought derby could only help his side’s preparations for the new season.

“I wouldn’t call it a wake-up call,” he said. “But what that’s done is give us a reminder that there’s still work to be done. That result will keep our eye on the ball and it won’t do us any harm at all.

“I’ve come in for a bit of criticism for the friendlies arranged this year but that was exactly the sort of game I wanted - one that was anything but a friendly.

“With teams like Soham, March and Holbeach you know you’re going to get pushed for 90 minutes. That’s better than just going through the motions against a team or playing a bigger side who are going to ravage you by six or seven goals.

“The boys were disappointed because it’s a long time since we’ve lost and some of the lads knew they hadn’t performed. I thought March deserved the win but we will learn from that game.”

Most Read

Appleby - whose team also drew 1-1 with Soham on Saturday - praised the impact of his new signings, highlighting defender Spafford and former Chatteris Town midfielder Steven Reid as particularly impressive.

Striker Liam Nimmo and substitute Sam Murphy were both on target for the Fenmen on Tuesday night - and it took an inspirational performance from former Wisbech Town ‘keeper Lea Jordan to prevent his old club scoring more goals.

Appleby said: “I said to Dearo (Assistant Manager Chris Dear) just as the game started that Jordan would have a blinder. He was one of the best ‘keepers in our league and we’ve got nothing but respect for him.”

Wisbech, who host Holbeach United on Saturday, could face another trip to the GER in the FA Cup. The Fenmen will meet the Hares on September 3 if both teams can get past their extra preliminary round opponents.

Appleby added: “You could see March were up for it and that’s partly why I wanted the friendly. We could get them in the FA Cup and we need to come up against people who rise to the game and want to be in our faces. They did that and they did it well.

“I think they wanted it more and I told the boys afterwards that that should never happen.

“You always wan’t to win but results mean nothing in pre-season. All you want is for things to go well, to steer clear of injuries and to get something out of it.

“There was a bit of a panic with the injuries at one stage but fortunately it’s not as bad as we thought.”