Entertaining Bostik League North Division draw with Felixstowe & Walton United leaves Mildenhall Town manager Ricky Cornish feeling positive
However long Ricky Cornish’s managerial career lasts, there is a fair chance that few matches will be as exciting as Saturday’s Bostik League North Division contest between Mildenhall Town and Felixstowe & Walton United.
In what was just his second ever game in the dugout, Cornish experienced a rollercoaster of emotions as his Mildenhall side fell behind early on, recovered to lead on two occasions before ultimately having to settle for a 3-3 draw and a share of the spoils.
It was a result that saw Mildenhall drop into the relegation zone, but Cornish saw plenty in the performance to believe that his men can start looking upwards very soon.
“We played well, moved the ball well and gave away some silly goals – that probably sums it up,” said the new boss.
“Yes there is plenty to work on, especially when it comes to giving away soft goals, but the lads are already standing up and showing they are willing to be counted.
“We played some good football in good areas. I want them to play with freedom. It is their Saturday afternoon or their Tuesday evenings, and so I want them to enjoy their time being here.
“Freedom – that is key. They all have their jobs to do, but as long as they do that then the rest is down to them.
“We have not won today but the changing room is buzzing because we have played well and the lads are understanding what me and Colin (Vowden, assistant) want from them.
“It is very exciting to see this sort of change already. It will take some time but I am confident we can start moving up the table soon.”
For all of the positivity come the final whistle, Mildenhall did not get off to the best of starts after they fell behind in the seventh minute.
Goalkeeper Blake Horton felt that he had been impeded as he attempted to collect a corner, but the referee was having none of it and when the ball broke free Felixstowe’s Miles Powell was on hand to turn the ball in from close range.
However, the hosts’ response was positive and they were level within three minutes. David Cooper’s cross-field pass from the left-back position caught out his opposite number Louis Donovan-Perry, who misjudged the flight of the ball.
That left Tom Debenham with the chance to pounce and he duly obliged, taking one touch to set up the chance and then firing low into the bottom corner from the edge of the box for his seventh goal of the season and his first since September 29.
Debenham could have added a second goal in the 23rd minute when he rose highest to meet Jarid Robson’s right-wing cross, only to head against the post, while Emmanuel Osei produced a miss of the season contender soon after when he shot over with the goal at his mercy.
Mildenhall were on top by this point and the pressure told in the 40th minute with a counter-attack goal.
After clearing a Felixstowe corner the home side broke at pace, with Panayiotis Boxer eventually slotting a pass through that put Evans Kouassi in the clear. The pacey winger went on to draw Jack Spurling off his line, before rounding him and rolling the ball into an empty net.
But just when it seemed Mildenhall would take the lead into the break, the contents of Cornish’s half-time team talk were altered by the visitors drawing themselves level in the 45th minute. Captain Rhys Barber was the scorer, powering in a header that was too hot for Horton to handle.
Yet, just as they had done with Felixstowe’s first goal, Mildenhall replied swiftly and they were back in front four minutes after the restart.
Kouassi was the architect on this occasion, breaking the lines with a slide rule pass for Robson who made a run in between the two Felixstowe centre-backs.
There was still plenty left for the attack-minded midfielder to do, but his first touch took all the weight off the pass perfectly and allowed him to calmly place his shot beyond the reach of Spurling.
But Felixstowe – who, like Mildenhall, are without a win since November 17 – refused to be beaten and they restored parity once again in the 66th minute when Joseph Bloomfield swept home following a neat passing move.
Both teams had chances to claim all three points as proceedings wore on and it was Mildenhall who went closest with a Tom Boxer free-kick that brought the very best out of Spurling three minutes from time, but ultimately an entertaining afternoon ended all square.
After seeing Mildenhall beaten at AFC Sudbury on Boxing Day, Cornish will go in search of his first win at Canvey Island on Saturday (3pm).
Mildenhall: Horton, Cooper, Camilo-Tayaca, Butcher (T Boxer 13), Atkinson, P Boxer, Kouassi, Smith, (Seymour 66) Debenham, Robson, Osei
Journal Man of the Match: Evans Kouassi