Gallery: Birchfield’s goal sees Seasiders up to fifth
- Credit: Archant
It was a good Saturday for the home side as they moved up into fifth place with this win as two of the sides above them dropped points.
But for visitors Wivenhoe the struggle continues as they were dragged closer to the relegation struggle with 18th placed FC Clacton winning to move within catching distance just a point behind.
The hard surface and unpredictable gusting wind ensured that this game was never likely to be a football masterclass with Wivenhoe prepared to battle for everything and get plenty of bodies behind the ball.
With a dozen draws to their record this season they have proved difficult to break down and some resolute defending in the second half denied the home side winning by a more comfortable margin.
Wivenhoe might have been ahead in the opening minutes when Felixstowe conceded a corner, Charlie Goodlake’s flag-kick flew across the face of the Felixstowe goal when any touch would surely have seen it find the back of the net.
And the opening 15 minutes were probably the best of the 90 for the visitors before the Seasiders settled into their game with a sweeping move that ended with Sheridan Driver lifting his shot from the edge of the area high over Peter Haxell’s bar.
Ben Cranfield, back in action after missing four games with a thigh injury, ended another good build up with a similar finish to Driver’s five minutes earlier, while Wivenhoe posed a threat on the break forcing a couple of corners that were cleared comfortably by The Seasiders.
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There was concern when Dan Davis went down after a coming together with Ben Connell, and extended treatment saw the centre back return to action briefly before being substituted in the 32nd minute with a knee injury.
The goal that decided the points came in the 44th minute when Cranfield worked his way into the Wivenhoe area on the right touchline before somehow getting the ball through the pack of players and across the face of goal for young Ryan Birchfield to plant into the unguarded net.
There was a scare for the hosts when Haxell’s kick took one bounce before reaching Stannard at pace n the 51st minute and the ‘keeper had to push the ball over for a corner from under the bar.
It was the closest Wivenhoe came to getting back on terms as the home side looked in control after the break. Birchfield was denied by an excellent save from Haxell on the hour and Bennett dispossessed Schofield before driving an angled shot against the Wivenhoe bar that flew away to the safety of a throw in.
Tom Dew fired wide of the target when well placed and Wivenhoe were relieved to scramble the ball clear from a corner as Birchfield looked in on goal. The margin might have been wider at the end but some resolute defending from the visitors kept the hosts at bay.
No complaints from Wivenhoe boss Osman
Wivenhoe manager Mo Osman had no complaints over the result when speaking after the game, although he felt the scoreline was a little harsh at half-time as his side had started well and battled hard in the opening 45 minutes before being caught out in the final seconds of the half.
But Osman accepted his side were second best after the break with their decision making in the final third letting them down.
It was a good day for 19 year old Ryan Birchfield who scored his third goal of the season and picked up a Man of the Match award from the match sponsors made up of a group of unattached supporters who travel the Non League circuit in Suffolk calling themselves the Wandering Nomads.
With Stanway losing at leaders Norwich United and Hadleigh United dropping two points at Walsham, the Seasiders are in a good position going into the final month of the season with just six points separating second to fifth.
The return of both Duane Wright and Ben Cranfield after missing four games through injury will be a boost for manager Kevin O’Donnell but he will be hoping the injury to Davis is not as serious as it looked after the game.
Felixstowe: Stannard, Pemberton, West, Bennett, R.Barber, Davis (Clark 38), Dew (Smy 79), Driver, Wright, Cranfield, Birchfield.
Wivenhoe: Haxell, Lampon, Blanchett, Schofield, Dennis, Connell, Goodlake, Spindler, Parkin, Keating (Heron 52), Nydam (Jones 65)
Referee: Chris Francis