Baker rises to the occasion

LOCAL SOCCER: Ipswich Wanderers 2 Wisbech Town 2. These two sides served up a pre-Christmas cracker as they shared the points in a highly entertaining game.



Ipswich Wanderers 2 Wisbech Town 2

THESE two sides served up a pre-Christmas cracker as they shared the points in a highly entertaining game.

Wanderers took the lead on 16 minutes when a fine through ball from Hetherington found Smy who chipped visiting keeper Pledger.

Wisbech responded and levelled on 28 minutes when a deep Flanz cross was parried by Stannard and Tom Chilton followed up to slot home at the far post.

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Both sides had further chances in the first half but it took a defensive mistake early in the second-half to allow the visitors to take the lead when a throughball from Darren Jimson found Furnell who slotted home his 20th goal of the season past Stannard.

Wanderers were then reduced to 10 men when Smy was booked twice in quick succession but they came back to seal a point when 13 minutes from time a sensational long-range strike from Jamie Baker gave Pledger no chance.

Bury Town 0 Stowmarket Town 0

THE lack of goals did not detract from the entertainment value of this local derby.

Early on one of many enormous throw-ins by Evans was touched on by Miller but Stringfellow could not quite reach the ball to finish the set piece and put Bury in front.

Thereafter both defences dominated with Eady and Thompson for Bury matching Barnard and Oman's resilience for Stowmarket.

With half-time close, Jopling missed the best chance of the game when he gathered a loose ball but shot right across the home goal from close range.

Tatham showed good pace up front for Bury but could never quite breach the final line of defence while Stowmarket's attacking moves broke down repeatedly because of a propensity to stray offside.

Nunn, in the visitors' goal, produced the save of the day when he turned a stinging drive from Miller round a post, while at the other end Cudworth was relieved to hang on at the second attempt to Jopling's header.

Referee Symonds had to leave the field after a leg injury near the close and replacement Marin disappointed the visitors just before the final whistle when he rejected fierce claims for a penalty.

It would have been a harsh ending to an enjoyable game played in a good spirit.

Lowestoft Town 0 AFC Sudbury 0

GAMES between Lowestoft and Sudbury are always full of attacking football from both sides with plenty of goals.

Saturday's clash followed the same pattern with the exception that chances were missed at both ends and honours were shared in a goalless draw.

Lowestoft forces several corners in the opening minutes which all came to nothing, although Smith should have done better with a clean header just too high. Hitcham had top be on his toes as he raced from his area to head clear as Banya challenged.

Simon Head should have given the Blues the lead but he too headed too high from a Godbold cross. A clash of heads between Stokeld and David Head ended with the Lowestoft player being taken to hospital with blood streaming from a head wound, Norman substituted.

Both sides had great chances to open the scoring as the first half came to an end.

For Sudbury Betson blasted high over a gaping goal after excellent approach work from Bennett and moments later McGee stabbed the ball wide from an exquisite cross from Simon Head.

The second half provided even better entertainment with both sides being urged on by their respective drummers. Hitcham cut out a dangerous cross from Bennett and Durrant's surging run towards the Sudbury area saw him play King through but the youngster lost his footing and the chance was gone.

Hitcham produced the save of the match to dive to his left to palm away Bennett's curling drive that seemed destined for the top corner. The woodwork then got into the act with the crossbar keeping out Simon Head's header followed moments later by Godbold' s 25-yard drive smacking against a post. As would be expected in such a game play moved to the other end and this time the woodwork came to Lowestoft's rescue as Bishop's shot from Bennett's free kick hit the Blues post

Nower produced an excellent save to deny another stinging drive from Godbold and Smith's last ditch tackle robbed Banya with the Sudbury man vainly appealing for a penalty.

The game ended with Lowestoft still on the attack and Head shooting straight into the arms of Nower.

Maldon Town 3 Wroxham 2

A WEEK after their poorest performance of the season, the inconsistent Maldon Town side turned on a performance which set league leaders Wroxham right back on their heels.

The game was played throughout in very foggy conditions, which deteriorated further by the interval, and all credit to the man in the middle, J McGill from Colchester, who kept the game proceeding. Both teams strove to play football but were not helped by the ball skidding quickly off the wet surface.

Maldon were the first to show, Wroxham keeper Mark Fowler did well to save Simon Gray's long-range drive at the second attempt in the 13th minute. Two minutes later, the Yachtsmen were stunned when striker Terry Warwick met Nicky Smith's high ball into the penalty area, turning to shoot low past Fowler.

Maldon could well have had a decisive lead by the interval but for some near misses from Smith, Docking and Warwick. Despite Neil Stanbridge pulling off two very good saves in the first period, Wroxham never really looked like getting back and in the 70th minute found themselves on the receiving end again when substitute Shane Bailey, who came on for the injured Docking, put Maldon still further ahead.

Eight minutes later, the home side allowed Wroxham to cut back the arrears with Damien Hilton heading in from a corner. But it was Maldon who struck again three minutes from time with a superb goal from Nicky Smith.

Right on the final whistle, Steve Johnson scored Wroxham's second goal but this was not enough to stop Maldon from taking three very well-deserved points.

Harwich & Parkeston 1 Mildenhall Town 3

HARWICH & Parkeston gave visitors Mildenhall the perfect early Christmas present last Saturday; two soft goals both scored within the first 10 minutes.

Once again, the struggling Shrimpers shot themselves in the foot allowing their visitors to get an early stranglehold upon the proceedings.

Harwich, who welcomed prodigal winger Peter Johnson and new signing Kevin Hughes into their fold, almost drew first blood with a fifth-minute attack that was scrambled clear of the Mildenhall goal.

The ball fell for Matt Eden to break forward and he caught the Harwich defence out of position to open the scoring. Mildenhall doubled their tally just two minutes later. A mix-up between Harwich goalkeeper Nathan Munson and team mate Lee Race caused the latter to attempt to clear over the bar. Instead he contrived to put the ball into the roof of his own net, thus conceding an embarrassing own goal.

Harwich then enjoyed a spell of pressure. Michael Brothers volleyed just wide before Johnson forced Banthorpe to make a smart save. Brothers was left cursing his luck when another of his efforts hit the Mildenhall crossbar before the tide turned again.

Mildenhall came forward in numbers and were rewarded with a spectacular goal from Neil Pope. The Mildenhall striker gained possession, looked up and hit an unstoppable drive from all of 25 yards that left Munson clutching thin air.

The home side were given a ray of hope just a minute later, a well-worked move ended with the ball falling to Gareth Heath who made no mistake with a close-range header.

Heath then went just wide with a shot, before play switched again and Pope hit the Harwich post before sending in a shot that Munson tipped over in dramatic style.

Harwich began to claw their way back into the game during the second-half with Johnson and Heath looking quite lively. Their best chance came on 78 minutes when Johnson forced Banthorpe to save at full stretch but for their part Mildenhall made more scoring chances of their own. The most notable of which was an effort from Reeder two minutes from the end that went inches over.

Dereham 1 Clacton 2

THE game started 10 minutes late due to the late arrival of the Seasiders.

Dereham, sitting much higher in the table were just as desperate for the points, as they have played so many games, they could get sucked into the relegation zone.

The game slowly opened up, and it was end-to-end stuff, although there were no real threats on either goal until the 25th minute, when Dereham's Ferguson was kicking himself for missing a guilt edge chance on goal after a mistake from Hudson let him clean through.

A minute later, a much better effort from Christie demanded a great save from Clacton's Gould.

The Seasiders' response was solid with chances going begging for McClean and Howell, who has returned to the club from Ipswich Wanderers, before Lee McGlone had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be disallowed for a push.

Finally, the deadlock was broken in the 40th minute after a Dereham player handled in the area. Hudson coolly converted the spot kick.

The second half started with the hosts running at Clacton, but the defence stood firm, and the Gove brothers holding the midfield admirably. Clacton soon got back on top as Brown shot narrowly wide.

Then on the hour James Dunkley came on for the injured Cameron Gove, and within just a couple of minutes hit a sweet lob for McGlone, which left the Dereham defence at sea. The keeper misjudged the bounce as the ball ran underneath him, and McGlone was on hand to tap the ball into an empty net.

The hosts then broke away on the 75th minute, and a great cross found Bond unmarked at the far post, and he made no mistake with his header.


Long Melford 5 Thetford 1

THE few dozen fans who turned their back on Christmas shopping made the right decision and saw a comfortable victory which proved the perfect preparation for their Christmas celebration.

Winter had arrived at Stoneylands and it was bitingly cold dark and gloomy but some fine attacking football brightened the afternoon.

The floodlights were on from the start and Melford grabbed their opportunity to consolidate their position near the top after promotion.

Melford scored five but might have hit twice that number. Hotshot Brian Devereux was both hero and villain, hitting two, missing a couple of good chances and seeing other efforts blocked.

But Dev's is much more than a scorer, he shows his tremendous experience to help create so many chances. He and strike-partner Darren Judd (who also scored twice) are building a fine partnership.

On a difficult heavy surface, with an uneven bounce, Melford took early control. And they had already gone close a couple of times, through Irvine and Judd when they took the lead after 18 minutes. A clever pass from Devereux, after a through ball from French, put Judd in the clear and his chip reached the net despite two chasing defenders. It was 2-0 after 31 minutes thanks to swift inter-play between Danny Brind, Judd and Devereux with the latter stroking it into the net. Thetford threatened briefly with Mark Almond having one effort saved by Sid Haygreen and hitting a 35-yarder over the bar. And on 35 minutes Haygreen showed all his experience to keep out three shots, in quick succession.

Devereux linked up well to supply the overlapping Trevor Irvine but was then disappointed to scuff his shot wide from eight yards when the ball was squared back to him.

Then Devereux, spinning off a defender, and with his back to goal chipped over his own shoulder and keeper Paul Snowden but the ball dropped the wrong side of the post. The second half was only five minutes old when Judd latched on to a poor defensive back header but Snowden was out quickly to block him.

Melford had missed a couple of good efforts during a period of intense pressure, the best opportunity falling to Micky Stratton hitting wide of goal when in space at the end of a fine move down the left involving Tony French and Devereux.

The third killer goal came out of the blue, Danny Brind picking up a loose clearance and scoring with a tremendous dipping volley from all of 35 yards.

Now Melford were strolling it but failed to add to their total despite a lot of possession. Thetford centre half Ron Johnson went into the book for a late challenge and, after the free-kick, Martin Freeman hit a powerful snapshot just too high.

Soon after it was four after a quickly taken Melford corner on the right allowed Devereux to cut in and drill a low shot in with his favourite left foot.

Thetford grabbed a goal back, against the run of play, when Ricky Bracchi sneaked in behind the defence to score.

The home team pushed forward again. Micky Stratton shot wide before Judd cut in to score with a fine effort, in off the far post.

Long Melford: Haygreen, Arnold, French, Pratt, Dack, Freeman, Brind, Irvine, Devereux, Stratton, Judd, subs used Howe, Mumford.

Thetford Town: Snowden, Smith, Mleczek S, Brookes, Johnson, Armes, Curtis, Almond, Bracchi, Mleczek P, Bellingham.

LONG Melford chairman Lee Harding fears the problems higher in the football pyramid are about to hit clubs like his in the Jewson League.

Ambitious Melford, in their first season in the Jewson First Division, aim to improve their ground for eventual promotion to the Premier Division.

And the next big project is a stand behind the goal.

But Harding fears there will be little Football Foundation money in the kitty for clubs at grass roots level because of the charity's diversion of funds to help bankrupt Football League sides survive their financial crisis.

"We have heard there may be no money for this level.

"But we know we have got to make improvements to be eligible for Premier Division football.

"But I have said, if the team is in a position to make progress and achieve promotion, the ground will be available, even if we have to raise the money ourselves."

A £5,000 target has been set to finance a new stand, which has planning permission. behind the Nursery End goal. The chairman is very pleased with progress on the pitch.

"We have already exceeded our expectations for this season by being in the top half, even the top two at one stage.

"Brian (Devereux) and the other experienced players have been very important for us.

Top scorer Devereux has a new lease of life at Melford.

"I am really enjoying it here. There is no pressure on me. I hope I am doing my bit, I've got 17 goals now before Christmas which isn't bad. I missed a couple on Saturday but got a couple too. I set myself a target of 30 to 40 goals before the season. I've been out injured, but I've got 17 goals in 22 games, so I still think 30 is a realistic target. At Sudbury my record was 97 in 111 games."

Joint manager Jason Stalker was happy with Saturday's result: "We played some good stuff at times. We created a lot of chances but only took five, we took some of the hard ones and missed some of the easy ones. And we were disappointed to concede a sloppy goal. Our third goal killed the game. Devereux and Judd up front played really well."

Halstead 2 Swaffham 0

HALSTEAD moved up into second spot in the table following a fine performance against previous second-placed Swaffham, in the very first-ever clash between the sides.

A goal in each half proved to be enough to send the Rosemary Lane fans home happy enough, although on the run of play, another goal would have shown the difference between the sides, home keeper Lloyd Pentney barely having a shot to save.

Midfielder Nik Guyon was an absentee with 'flu, while Tom English was not available.

The misty and murky afternoon was soon lit up when Halstead scored with only seven minutes gone.

A tricky run by Jimmy Chatters ended with Rainford bringing the striker down and from the free kick by Matt Heard, Robbie Welham headed against to post and defender Richard Sestak snapped up the rebound.

By the 20 minute mark Halstead had more of the possession, although Swaffham were dangerous on the break, particularly Searles and Kevin Leggett, pegging away consistently and after half an hour Jamie Miller was close with a good effort. In the meantime Swaffham keeper Higgs pulled off a good save to deny the marauding Chatters, and although the home side put together some fine moves toward the interval they were unable to increase their lead.

The second half followed a similar pattern with Halstead calling the tune, Chatters stretching the defence with speedy runs, while Welham was a constant source of danger with his clever hold up play, and although Swaffham brought on all three substitutes they could make no headway against the home side. Visibility began to decrease as Halstead piled in the pressure before finally being rewarded with a second goal after 72 minutes, when a pin-point cross from Strong was converted by Welham.

Haverhill Rovers 2 Godmanchester Rovers 2

THE points were shared after a good advert for the game of football.

Godmanchester took the lead after 19 minutes, the ball not cleared and Potter's 20-yard drive going straight into the far bottom corner of the net.

Haverhill equalised in the 31st minute, Cowling brought down by B Thompson in the area and Jenkin placing the penalty into the roof of the net.

Godmanchester regained their lead seven minutes before the end, Carnamati found free on the left, his shot cleared off the line and substitute S Thompson converting the rebound despite two defenders on the Haverhill goal line.

The second equaliser came in the 88th minute, Jenkin laying the ball off for Cowling, whose first-time shot went into the far bottom corner and ensured both teams went home with a point.

Needham Market 3 Felixstowe & Walton 2

NEEDHAM gave debuts to Mark Debenham and Michael Stewart on home leave from an American college, and also welcomed back Ian Wands from university at Birmingham.

Both sides were trying to build with some neat football exchanges and both keepers were kept busy. In the first real chance Kevin Folkard played a superb through ball that split the visitors defensive line and Lee Briggs just failed to get a touch as Charters came out and collected.

Ismael Etti then had Kevin Holland saving low down as Felixstowe looked for the opening goal. Etti had another effort cleared off the line by Mark Andrews soon afterwards, and Holland had to palm away a shot from Sadler as Felixstowe pressed.

Needham took the lead two minutes before half time when Marc Wake got the final touch after a goalmouth melee following a corner. Felixstowe, who were belying their lowly league position, came out for the second period full of running and enterprise and inside five minutes were in front. Etti was put in the clear and slipped the ball under the advancing Holland and then Knights headed home Sadler's corner.

In an attempt to get back into the match Needham introduced Karl Sandilands and Stuart Moore and were soon level when Marc Wake stabbed home Dean Folkard's headed attempt from a corner kick.

From another Graham Pooley corner Lee Briggs got in front of his marker to head home Needham's winning goal. In the final few minutes both sides were looking to add to the goals tally but the defences held out.

Cambridge City Reserves 1 Whitton United 6

A STIRRING last quarter to the match gave Whitton a convincing win over their fellow promotion rivals who hadn't lost at home this season.

Whitton were quickly into their stride taking a 17th-minute lead through Swann, who steered home Lockhart's defence-splitting pass. Home keeper Pacey made a string of excellent saves before City Reserves found their rhythm. Doyle's cross from the by-line looped over Brighty's head to find the far corner to level. A goal each was ruled out for offside before the break as well as Hurd striking a shot against an upright.

City forced the early second-half pace, Gafyer heading clear from under the Whitton crossbar, keeper Brighty standing firm under incessant pressure.

A five-minutes spell turned the game in Whitton's favour, Swann chased a Francis clearance with a defender, and between them, the ball somehow found the net. A Layton penalty for handball on the line, and a red card, left Whitton in total control.

Striker Swann added well-taken goals before Hurd completed the scoring to reward an excellent team move starting in their own half.

Leiston 0 Hadleigh United 1

HADLEIGH United held on to top spot with an uninspiring win at Leiston.

The only goal of the game came in the 51st minute when Rush played a ball into the home area and a slip from Wright saw the ball end up at the feet of Cracknell who placed the ball past Fenn into the left-hand corner of the net.

Despite starting well, Hadleigh never forced Fenn into a save and the home side took time to settle into any rhythm. With the first half drawing to a close, Fenn denied Cracknell before Leiston's Fryer saw his shot strike a post with Newson uncharacteristically blazing wide at the rebound.

Leiston continued their pressure after the break and Hadleigh's goal came against the run of play.

In the last 15 minutes, Donovan did excellently well to keep out Fryer's fierce drive as the home side certainly deserved at least a point for their efforts.

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