Keeper responsible for loss

Old Newton 2 Haughley Athletic 4A NIGHTMARE display by home goalkeeper Steven Lambert kept Haughley United's Metaltec SIL championship hopes alive.

By Elvin King

Old Newton 2 Haughley Athletic 4

A NIGHTMARE display by home goalkeeper Steven Lambert kept Haughley United's Metaltec SIL championship hopes alive.

The custodian, who is a former Haughley player, gifted the visitors three goals as Old Newton lost a league game for the first time for four months.

Haughley have to play title favourites Walsham-le-Willows next week, and they also have to meet current leaders Grundisburgh.

"It could turn our way, but we will have to win all our remaining five games to stand a chance," said Haughley manager Gary Nunn today.

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"Walsham will have to throw it away, but if they were to lose to Grundisburgh tonight and we were to beat them it would make things interesting."

Grundisburgh and Haughley are currently both two points ahead of Walsham, who have four games in hand on Grundisburgh and three on Haughley.

"We deserved to win last night, but it was not a great spectacle on a hard pitch," added Nunn.

Lambert dropped a cross as early as the second minute for Shaun Kidd to pounce and score.

Merrill Clarke also had a goalkeeping game he will want to quickly forget and he was fortunate when Lee Bryant and Andy Richards failed to capitalise when he lost control of the ball soon afterwards.

After 18 minutes he had no chance when Richards scored his 12th goal in 12 games to equalise after Ivan Clarke had provided an inviting low cross.

Keeper Clarke then scrambled a back pass from Nigel Vincent off the line, before Lambert punched a Noller cross on to a defender and into his own net just before the interval.

Merrill Clarke continued the goalkeeping pantomime when he helped a cross from Bryant into his own goal after 48 minutes.

But this was nothing compared with the howler made by Lambert soon afterwards to put Haughley back in the lead.

Kidd's spectulative 40-yard shot was rolling harmlessly wide when Lambert bent casually down to pick the ball up. But he only succeeded in diverting it into goal.

Even so it only had enough power to crawl over the line. Watching Walsham player manager Paul Smith could not believe it.

In the final five minutes, Martin Flack made certain of victory with a fine header from David Lummis' splendid deep cross. Haughley's only decent goal of the night.

Newton manager Trevor Wardlaw, who will be staying in charge next season, said: "The big crowd will have something to tell their grandchildren.

"They witnessed one of the most bizarre goals ever conceded. With luck like Haughley had for their third goal anything is possible for them this season."

Old Newton: Lambert, Coleman, Skinner, Hayward (sub King 54 mins), Stuart Ager, Collins, Simon Ager (Pilborough 62), Thorndyke, Richards, Bryant, I Clarke. Subs: Marsh, Denny. Starman: Richards.

Haughley: M Clarke, Riggey, Thompson, Root (Flack 31), Vincent, Grover, Davenport, Powell, Noller, Kidd, Lummis. Subs: Robinson, Griggs, Haydon. Starman: Vincent.

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