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Thurlow Nunn Premier leaders Felixstowe & Walton have their credentials tested by battling Hadleigh, under new boss Wardley

PUBLISHED: 09:53 05 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:15 05 November 2017

Hadleigh 'keeper Sam Mansfield saves from Felixstowe’s Key Ruel on Friday night. Photos: STAN BASTON

Hadleigh 'keeper Sam Mansfield saves from Felixstowe’s Key Ruel on Friday night. Photos: STAN BASTON

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Felixstowe & Walton 1 Hadleigh 0

Hadleigh’s Damon Artiss (blue) sees off Joe Francis in front of the Seasiders' record league crowd of 623 on Friday night. Photo: STAN BASTON Hadleigh’s Damon Artiss (blue) sees off Joe Francis in front of the Seasiders' record league crowd of 623 on Friday night. Photo: STAN BASTON

Felixstowe had their credentials fully tested on Friday evening by a Hadleigh side that looked anything but Premier Division strugglers, writes Phil Griffiths.

That old saying that sometimes you have to win ugly was certainly relevant, as the visitors set about showing new manager Shane Wardley they were worth their places.

In the end, the points were decided by a 52nd-minute Miles Powell free-kick that took a massive deflection off Jack Newman’s shoulder, to wrong-foot Sam Mansfield in the visitors’ goal. The Brettsiders perhaps deserved more from a game in which they had worked tirelessly, but without creating too many openings, against a well-disciplined defence that have now conceded just three goals in nine hours of football.

The home side were boosted by another record-breaking crowd of 623, watching a league game at the Goldstar on a good evening for football, considering the time of year, and they might have been ahead in the second minute when Powell took a swing at a ball in the six-yard box but missed and Jordan Matthews, following up, saw his attempt blocked and diverted for a corner.

Miles Powell’s free kick deflects off Jack Newman (8), to wrong foot the goalkeeper and  to claim all three points for the Seasiders. Photo: STAN BASTON Miles Powell’s free kick deflects off Jack Newman (8), to wrong foot the goalkeeper and to claim all three points for the Seasiders. Photo: STAN BASTON

It pretty much set the tone for the evening.

Kris Rose, returning to the club he left in the summer, headed over from Newman’s corner at the other end, and Joe Francis’ near post corner was pushed over by Mansfield in a half where the better of the half chances fell the home side’s way, but never seriously troubled Mansfield.

Former Seasiders Kyron Andrews and Ash Veitch worked tirelessly up front to keep the home defence on their toes, but the decisive strike came seven minutes after the break, when a clumsy challenge by Ben Golding halted Nick Ingram on the edge of the area, and Powell stepped up to strike his 20th goal of the season with the help of Newman’s shoulder.

It was a bitter blow for the visitors, who kept battling away, and they should perhaps have done better after Powell limped off, with all the home side’s subs used, leaving the Seasiders to see out the final 14 minutes with ten men.

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