March Town United boss Weston admits club’s faint promotion hopes are over after defeat
Ridgeons First Division: March Town United 1 Saffron Walden Town 3
MARCH Town United boss Jamie Weston admitted his side’s faint promotion hopes are over after the Hares slumped to another home defeat.
Weston’s injury-torn squad were dealt a major blow when the impressive Stu Anderson - who has stepped up from the reserves - was ruled out with a stomach abscess.
He joined Luke Pepper, Adam Weston, Lloyd Johnson, Adam Sutton, Grant Watson, Dan Sterna, Kyle Plumb and Simon Bates in missing today’s clash.
And as a result March’s patched-up side never looked like winning against an impressive Saffron Walden outfit.
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Essex’s oldest club took the lead through Graeme Turner but March hit-back with Ash Brand’s cooly-taken penalty after Denny Escorcio had been scythed down.
However, Walden hit two more goals before half-time with Mitchell Das grabbing both. Das was sensational from start to finish and tied Joe Barnes in knots time-and-time and again.
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March could have leapfrogged Saffron Walden in the Ridgeons First Division table with victory and Weston admitted his side can now only aim for a top-eight finish.
He said: “We came into this run of games confident that we could do something.
“We had six key matches against teams around us but unfortunately from the very first game of the batch against Diss we’ve just had injury after injury after injury.
“We’ve been unable to get any continuity in the side. We’ve had to patch a team together every week and that’s not a side that’s going to get promotion.
“It’s a side that’s going to do their best to hang onto a top-eight finish. The injury list is non-stop and there is no sign of it getting any better.
“You can’t afford to lose your top players - we’ve done that. You can’t afford to lose a bunch of players - we’ve done that. It’s just been one of those seasons where we’ve been unlucky.
“However, we’ve maintained a level. Nobody comes to March thinking they’re going to win easily. If we finish in the top-eight it’ll be a successful season.
“After all we’ve had to re-build a whole new team again as the season has gone on.”
The opening exchanges of the match were scrappy and the visitors took the lead with the game’s first real chance when Turner rounded Lee Brooks and trickled an effort across the line.
March replied within five minutes after Escorcio was hacked down by Michael Barker. Brand cooly slotted home the 14-minute penalty but the goal failed to spark a lifeless March into action.
Lee Day cleared a Das header off the line before the sensational wideman put his team in front again in the 25th minute beating Brooks from close range.
And he beat Brooks again just before the break when he cut in from the left and fired into the bottom corner.
A double substitution at half-time failed to help March who could have conceded further goals after the break. But there was some positive news as 18-year-old Ashley Sanderson made his debut for the club after signing from Whittlesey United.
Weston said: “Ashley is a good footballer who has a lot of potential.
“He’s got great delivery and whether we were at full strength or not he’s the type of player we’d be looking to bring in anyway.
“He’s the right age and we’re hoping to develop him into a better player. We made the double substitution because we needed to get Welcher back into the middle of midfield to try and liven things up.
“It wasn’t a sunshine day and we needed to grind out a performance - but they did that better than us. We were lifeless throughout although Denny was lively at times.
“You can’t afford to gift teams goals. Defensively we do fine but these lapses of concentration are killing us. They must have been rubbing their hands when we made the mistakes.
“They’ve got two of the best widemen in the league though and Das was sensational but we needed to support Joe more than we did, especially in the first half. Having said that I think both full backs from the reserves did well - especially Ben Lemmon who didn’t put a foot wrong when he came on.”
Skipper Luke Pepper will visit a specialist on Monday to assess his knee injury. Adam Sutton and Simon Bates are still two weeks away from being fit.
March travel to Haverhill on Tuesday for the Cambs Invitation Cup Semi-Final. The club play at one level higher than the Hares but Weston hopes to spring a surprise.
He said: “The win at Ipswich was pleasing and the defeat today was disappointing but we go to Haverhill looking to win.
“It’s a semi-final. You just don’t know. If we play well and they play badly, then we could win. We’ve got enough goals in our side to trouble anyone.”
Man of the match: Denny Escorcio - At times was March’s liveliest player, even if he has played better on other occasions this year.
March: Brooks, Barnes, Welcher, Day, Goult, Wheeler, Jackman (Sanderson, 46), Cornell (Lemmon, 46), De Menzies (Bryan, 66), Brand, Escorcio