TWO things stand out about Wisbech Town’s march into the FA Vase quarter-finals.
Firstly that all their wins to date have been achieved away from home.
And secondly striker Tom James has scored in every one of them.
But the good news for Sholing tomorrow as they prepare for the visit of the travel-loving Fenmen is that James is no longer around.
Having fired the Cambridgeshire outfit through to the last eight with a late penalty at Hadley United on February 16, he jetted off to spend a year playing and coaching in Australia.
James’s contribution to Wisbech’s Vase success has been massive.
He scored a hat-trick – including two in extra time – as they came back from behind three times to see off Gornal Athletic 6-3 in the first round.
The 20-year-old, pictured below, then bagged an 89th-minute winner in a slender 1-0 victory at Walsall Wood and followed up by scoring both in Wisbech’s 2-1 fourth round triumph at Ashington.
Wisbech have a proud tradition in the Vase, stretching back to the 1980s when they were semi-finalists two years running.
They lost out to Halesowen Town in a replay in 1984/85 and, 12 months later, lost to Southall.
Currently they sit seventh in the United Counties Premier Division, having lost ten of their 27 league games.
But they are a different animal in the Vase – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Sholing boss Dave Diaper.
“It seems to me that they’re a team for the big occasion,” he said. “You’ve got to be impressed that they’ve won four away games in the Vase – and one of those was against Ashington who are on the same points as the Vase holders Spennymoor in the Northern Division One.
“They recently drew 1-1 with Spalding, who are top of their league, so I’m expecting formidable opposition. The one thing in our favour is that their manager was present when we played Larkhall in the last round and we were not at our best. “Also, there are so many videos of their games on YouTube, it’s unbelievable. That’s certainly been quite handy for us preparing for the game.”
Wisbech have shown on more than one occasion that they are not fazed by falling behind.
They went a goal down at Eastern Counties leaders Hadleigh midway through the first half but levelled through centre-back Jon Fairweather, who had just returned to the ranks from Spalding.
James won it eight minutes from time, converting a penalty.