Weston condemns lifeless performance as March Town United limp to draw

Ridgeons First Division: March Town United 1 Swaffham Town 1

FRUSTRATED March Town United boss Jamie Weston condemned a “terrible football match” after the Hares stumbled to a lifeless draw with struggling Swaffham Town.

It was a dour contest from start to finish at the GER, with both sides unable to find any quality in their play.

When substitute Ash Brand netted the rebound from his own missed penalty with 15 minutes left, it looked as though the Hares might record the ugliest of wins.

But Swaffham capitalised on lazy March defending to score from a well-worked free kick and claim a share of the spoils.

Weston said: “It was terrible. A terrible football match. They tried but we were poor. There is no explaining it.

“We were hoping to stumble across three points with the penalty but the equaliser was coming. I think they were unlucky with just 1-1 and I think we got out of jail. We were poor, simple as that.

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“There were too many with a poor attitude. At no point in the game did we get going. We were lucky to get what we got. We’ve had these performances before and I don’t know where they come from.

“I should be talking to them about tactics not motivation. Just to be in the team and playing should be enough motivation. If you aren’t motivated then what’s the point in coming?”

Not for the first time this season, the Hares looked second best in the opening exchanges in front of their own fans.

The team struggled to string passes together and gave away a host of petty free kicks in dangerous positions.

It was only a combination of poor delivery and wayward finishing from Swaffham which prevented the home side from shipping an early goal.

Will O’Brien smashed a shot just wide for the visitors and ‘keeper Lee Brooks had to be alert to scramble down at his near post to keep out a curling free kick.

There was little joy at the other end for March, with Juliano Gomes de Menzies having a torrid time up front.

Denny Escorcio showcased his usual bag of tricks but produced no end product, shooting high and wide after half an hour.

And March looked to be desperately in need of a finisher, as Marc Welcher’s teasing crosses found nobody waiting but eager Swaffham defenders.

De Menzies’ miserable afternoon was ended at the interval as Weston threw Andy Bryan on in his place in a desperate bid to cause the visiting centre-backs some problems.

But the second half proceeded in similar fashion, with the Hares failing to show any of the form which had seen them beat Ipswich Wanderers and Downham Town last week.

New signing Danny Rasberry, who failed to have an impact on the game from the wing, was brought off after 54 minutes, with Ash Brand taking his place.

Brand’s introduction did spark some life into an otherwise dull fixture, with the diminutive striker asking questions of the Swaffham defence with his pace and ability to run with the ball.

It was Brand’s neat touch and clever pass that freed Denny Escorcio just after the hour mark. Escorcio powered into the box, only to be scythed down as he was about to pull the trigger.

Referee Neil Jordison pointed to the spot and Brand stepped up to take the spot-kick himself. Although the striker saw his poor penalty parried by Dean Mayes, he was able to convert the rebound and give his side a lead they barely deserved.

It was a lead that could have been doubled minutes later. A pacey exchange between Escorio and Brand brought a good save from Mayes and Dan Sterna’s follow up was deflected inches wide.

But March’s lead always looked a vulnerable one and the Hares’ ill-discipline finally came back to haunt them with 10 minutes remaining.

After giving away another needless free kick on the edge of the box, March’s defence fell asleep leaving Richard Cornwall free to tap home a precise through ball.

The equaliser sparked a frantic last 10 minutes, with both teams searching for a winner and both defences seeming desperate to give the game away.

Jordan saved from Joe Jackson, Lee Day cleared a shot off the line and Swaffham striker Nathan Clarke smashed a point-blank volley over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

Brand missed a golden chance to win it for March and Escorcio summed up the Hares’ afternoon by dragging his stoppage-time shot horribly wide.

It was a game that manager Jamie Weston admitted he was keen to forget.

He said: “Today was a really good chance for us to go a clear sixth or even level fifth. Instead we stumbled to a draw.

“We’ve got to go away to Whitton next week who are certainly not going to give us anything. If we put that kind of performance in then it could be double figures because they will be relentless.

“Right from back to front we were poor. We were feeding on scraps. We weren’t opening them up, we were just hopeful that they would make a mistake or a long ball might pay off.

“I’ve said it 100 times, if we are relying on long ball you know it’s bad because we’re terrible at long ball.

“The quality is there if they want it enough. Today we had the quality to win the game but we didn’t show it.

“It’s disappointing now but you have to move on and forget about it.”

March visit Whitton United - who beat them 4-0 two weeks ago - next Saturday.

March: Brooks, Goult, Lemmon (Sutton, 86), Day (c), Plumb, Bates, Escorcio, M Welcher, De Menzies (Bryan, 45), Sterna, Rasberry (Brand, 54).

Man of the Match: Ash Brand - The second half substitute injected some much-needed pace into a game that was in danger of petering out into a stalemate. He caused the Swaffham defenders more problems in half an hour than his team-mates managed in the full 90 minutes but shot over when handed a chance to win the game in the closing stages. His return to fitness will be a big boost to the Hares’ hopes of making a late push up the table.