Woodbridge hold nerve to earn draw

SOCCER: A full round up of this weekend's local football matches.

Soham Town Rangers 3 Woodbridge Town 3

EARLIER in the season, these two teams shared six goals at Notcutts Park. History repeated itself on Saturday as Soham twice came from behind to earn a point from a game which provided tremendous entertainment.

Both sides deserved credit for coping well with a stiff breeze and a bumpy pitch, which did not encourage good football and although disappointed in twice being pegged back, Woodbridge again showed plenty of character and quality in extending their unbeaten league run to six matches.

In fact, it seemed plain sailing for the Woodpeckers early on, with two goals giving them a clear advantage. In the 12th minute, a fine through ball from Simon Gray put Andy Coote clear and he showed great control and composure to lift the ball over Ian Magnus and into the net.

The visitors' grip on the game tightened further five minutes later, when Simon Head rose to meet a corner from the right and sent a header crashing in off the underside of the bar, injuring himself in the process.

Soham came more into the game as the first half progressed, but they had caused Woodbridge few anxious moments until the 35th minute when Michael Simpson struck a free kick from 30 yards into an unguarded net, while Dean Garnham was still organising his defensive wall.

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The visitors survived a scare in first half stoppage time when Neil Docking hit the post and seconds before the half-time whistle, a cross from the right was met with a glancing header from Tony French for Soham's equaliser.

The second half consisted of end-to-end play, with goalmouth incidents galore. Immediately after the interval a defensive mix-up presented both Coote and Ian Brown with the chance to restore Woodbridge's lead, but their shots struck defenders with Magnus stranded.

The home keeper saved at the second attempt from Head's firm drive and for a while after, Soham held the upper hand. Just past the hour though, it was the visitors who struck again with the goal of the game. A flowing build-up initiated by Brown, ended when Gray's incisive pass found Coote who once again delivered a precise finish for his 17th goal of the season.

Woodbridge's joy was short-lived however, because within a minute, a low shot from Peter Hinde from outside the penalty area, restored parity once more.

Docking wasted a glorious opportunity to give the home side the lead for the first time, Brown twice went close and Gray curled a shot inches wide as the chances continued to flow.

The last few minutes saw Soham pressing for the winner. Docking was again frustrated by the woodwork when his fierce drive clipped the top of the bar and Woodbridge had to frantically clear their lines on a couple of occasions before finally securing what proved to be a well-deserved point.

Diss Town 2 Stowmarket 5

STOWMARKET put in another powerful performance to totally outplay the Tangerines.

Two goals to one up at the interval, and that after going a goal down, Mel Aldis' side stormed to a comfortable victory with three more in the second half, as Diss were overwhelmed.

Felixstowe & Walton 0 Ely City 2

THIS seventh home defeat of the season plunged the Seasiders back into the relegation zone and left manager Paul Adams desperate to find someone to finish the openings they created as they failed to score for the tenth time this season.

It was a disappointing end to a week that had promised much after the home side had started brightly with Banthorpe in the Ely goal twice at full stretch to cut out dangerous crosses, Ager sending a powerful volley just over and Daniels heading wide in the opening ten minutes.

Ely's first goal came in the 34th minute when Charters could only parry Foster's initial shot and Eden reacted the quickest to drive the ball past the Felixstowe & Walton keeper from 12 yards.

Foster, looking the liveliest player on the pitch, created the second on the stroke of half time as he twisted and turned the home defence before delivering a pin-point cross for Lippiatt to head firmly past Charters.

The home side huffed and puffed after the break, but rarely threatened to reduce the deficit as Ely controlled the game.

The only bright point for the hardy home supporters was the second half substitutions that saw 18-year-old Chris Kyle make his Jewson League debut along with Gareth Bolt and the talented 17-year-old Alex Williams coming on to cause the Ely defence a few late problems without ever threatening to reduce the deficit.

Fakenham 2 Bury Town 2

CONSIDERING their predilection to give the ball away for much of the game, both sides must have thought a share of the spoils was no more than they deserved.

Early on, the game had promised so much more, Fakenham twice surged forward only to finish off-target and then a well-worked move by Gilmore and Reeve set up Coe, who volleyed past Hill in the tenth minute.

Bury hit back quickly and were level within five minutes. Crawford fed in to Stringfellow, who chipped into the top far corner of Lewis' goal.

True, Fakenham had their chances and Stringfellow hit the post with a scorching drive for Bury, but the deadlock remained until the 75th minute.

Bury again lost possession and the ball was shipped over to former Bury midfielder Dickerson who drilled Fakenham ahead.

The situation cried out for Newman's release off the bench. His pace and enthusiasm soon left Fakenham's central defence in no doubt that he had arrived and they could no longer give the wily Stringfellow their undivided attention.

With time running out, the persistence of North on the flank set up the new boy on the block and his patience was rewarded with an 86th minute half-volley which gave Lewis no chance.

Needham Market 2 Warboys 1

NEEDHAM gained the three points from this fixture to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.

The match lacked any real quality in the play and was not a great spectacle for the small crowd. Matless made an early stop from Colin Sinclair's point-blank shot and Fenn saved from Aarrons' header.

Two goals in an eight-minute spell midway through the half brought the game to life briefly, firstly Neil Cole shot home powerfully from 25 yards for Needham and then Young placed wide of Matt Fenn an excellently executed equalising shot.

Both sides were making silly mistakes and losing possession too easily and never really tested the keepers and defences too much. The winning goal was scored by youngster Ashleigh Hawes, who took control of a bobbling clearance and went on to beat two defenders before placing the ball under the advancing Matless just before half time.

In an uneventful second period Warboys probably created the better openings, but both sides lacked the final goalscoring threat. In essence it was a poor game, which the home side just about deserved to win, especially because of the class of the deciding goal.

Leiston 2 Downham Town 2

WITH three of the top four sides all winning Leiston dropped two points in a match they dominated for long periods.

Constant home pressure finally brought its reward in the 20th minute when Knott spilled Spurling's driven cross and J Chenery poked home.

A minute later Taylor's through ball released J Chenery who confidently fired past Knott for the second. Time and time again the visitors were caught flat-footed, but Leiston continued to waste their openings with J Chenery, Jennings and Kirtley all guilty.

The home side were made to rue those missed chances when three minutes after the break Hillier reduced the arrears when unmarked at the far post and Downham equalised ten minutes from time when Butt hooked home again at the far post and again unmarked.

There was still time for both sides to snatch a win, but both missed golden opportunitues. Firstly J Chenery was denied by the substitute Downham goalkeeper when clean through and then Robinson rattled Hinnels' bar in stoppage time.

The home side are finding out the hard way for not finishing off games when dominating.

King's Lynn Res 2 Hadleigh 0

SCORING chances were in short supply in this dour Division One fixture.

It was not until the closing stages that the deadlock was broken and then a second goal was added in the final minute.

The game began badly for Hadleigh as Godbold was taken off on a stretcher after only four minutes with a groin injury.

The rest of the first half was dominated by defenders with Arnold and Gaston making goal-line clearances when the home team threatened.

Just before the interval, Hadleigh felt they should have had a penalty when Leeks went down in the area, but the referee was having none of it.

In the second half, Bacon lobbed over the bar for King's Lynn before Arnold blazed over the top at the other end following good work by Gaston on the left wing.

The opening goal came after 76 minutes when Moore scored easily from close range after a quick move down the right wing had been allowed to continue with Hadleigh's defence waiting for an offside flag, which never came.

With time running out, Doherty scored the second with a volley while at the other end, a header from Bradford was cleared off the line to deny Hadleigh a consolation goal.

AFC Sudbury 5 Croydon Athletic 0

BILLED as a match between the goal- scoring giants with both teams having scored more than 90 goals in their respective leagues, AFC Sudbury handed out a five-goal thrashing to their Ryman Division Three opponents, to deservedly earn a place in today's last 16 draw.

Croydon, trailing by two goals at the interval, were finally killed off by a sensational 11-minute second-half hat-trick by Gary Bennett.

AFC overcame the loss of influential defender Bishop just two minutes into the match and were denied a clear-cut penalty when Banya was brought down after an exchange of passes between Cheetham and Bennett created the chance for him.

Rayner then served notice of what was to come, running on to Banya's pass to send in a vicious first-time shot that Phillips managed to beat out. The keeper then followed up to fingertip over a goalbound header from Owen before AFC went ahead after 28 minutes. Owen's quick throw was laid into the path of Cheetham by Bennett with Cheetham coolly slotting the ball past Phillips.

Nower dived bravely at Liddle's feet to deny Croydon an equaliser before another brilliant blocking save by Phillips kept out Bennett's stinging shot. Three minutes before half-time, Cheetham cleverly flicked the ball over the defence allowing Bennett to cross to the far post where Owen headed powerfully home.

AFC dominated the second half with Phillips again denying Bennett with a stunning fingertip save to keep out his header with Rayner blasting the loose ball over the bar from a mere three yards. Bennett then took centre stage with a blistering display of finishing. First Tanner started the move, carried on by Cheetham and Banya and ended with Bennett dispatching a fierce shot from the edge of the area past Phillips.

Gardiner then won a crunching midfield challenge to send Banya away, his ball back into the path of Bennett being driven powerfully beyond Phillips.

Another brilliant fingertip save by Phillips touched over Betson's thumping shot before Bennett's hat-trick was complete, Banya again the provider allowing Bennett to finish with another clinical low shot.

CORNARD United have kindly co-operated with AFC Sudbury and have brought forward their Eastern Floodlight League game to tomorrow night (7.45pm) at Cornard's Blackhouse Lane ground.

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