Whittlesey and March serve up cup thriller ahead of crucial weekend

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Craig Gillies (right) scored a hat-trick in March Town's 4-3 Cambs Invitation Cup first round win at Whittlesey Athletic. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Two of our leading Fenland teams played out a seven-goal thriller ahead of a crucial weekend of action. 

Whittlesey Athletic were beaten 4-3 at home to March Town in a Cambs Invitation Cup first round tie on Tuesday night, a game where top marksmen shined for either side. 

Craig Gillies notched a hat-trick for step five Hares, while James Hill-Seekings scored twice for a team that conceded an 87th-minute winner two minutes after levelling at 3-3. 

“We got taught a lesson for half-hour of the first half, but I thought in the second half, we were the better side,” Whittlesey player-boss Ricky Hailstone said. 

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

“March have some very good players and are a good step five side, so it shows we can compete with those teams.” 

Whittlesey host United Counties League (UCL) Premier Division South side Newport Pagnell Town in the FA Vase third round proper this Saturday, 3pm. 

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Twenty places separate the two teams in the non-league pyramid, and Hailstone is confident of what to expect. 

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“I think they’ll be a typical UCL side where they’ll go long, be strong and fight for everything,” he said. 

“I think they’ll go direct and it will be how we defend the long balls and if we can break down their strong defence.” 

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

As for March, they head into their Eastern Counties Premier Division clash with leaders Gorleston on Saturday, 3pm, on a run of five games unbeaten, four of those being wins. 

It’s a match that Hares boss Ash Taylor hopes his team can prepare for after a not so pleasing display in midweek. 

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

“We were dominant and we showed what we could do first half, but then we cruised and you can’t let that happen,” Taylor said. 

“It’s about making sure we stay at a level throughout the game and have total control as in the second half, I felt we didn’t have.” 

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

March chairman Phil White has praised Taylor and his team for propelling the Hares’ fortunes since taking over in August. 

The club is also hoping for a strong turnout in their final home game before Christmas. 

Taylor added: “If we give it our all and come short, I’ll be happy as I can’t ask for anything else.” 

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Whittlesey Athletic: Elliott Gale; Alex Pacey, Kieran Hibbins, Jake Pell (C), Lewis Saunders, Aaron Dunmore, Billy May (sub Dan Redhead, 53'), Joe Butterworth, Jack Carter, James Hill-Seekings, Ben Cowles (sub Matt Heron, 53').

Unused subs: Ollie Long, Jack Bates.

March Town: Charlie Congreve; Sam Garner, Jamie Alsop (sub Adam Brumby, 76'), Scott Callaghan (sub Dean Miller, 46'), Danny Emmington (C), Lewis Gibson (sub Josh Burrows, 63'), Lewis Hilliard, Eoin McQuaid, Jack Friend, Craig Gillies, Josh Moreman.

Unused subs: Sam Green, Jack Frohawk.

Cautions: Whittlesey Athletic - Cowles, Heron. March Town - Garner, Gibson.

Man of the match: Craig Gillies.

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

March Town manager Ash Taylor and assistant Guy Habbin look on. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town DEC 7 2021

Action from Whittlesey Athletic vs March Town. - Credit: Spencer Holl