GALLERY: Whitton United 1 Haverhill Borough 0
- Credit: Archant
In a game which could hardly be described as absorbing, Whitton United soaked up the pressure of their rivals and scored when they were on top.
It will be these types of performances that will drag Paul Bugg’s table-topping team in to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier; dirty and dogged, committed and cruel.
“Winning ugly – United made a decade of it,” one Whitton coach barked across to his colleagues as they trudged off the boggy field.
Their assured strides were set against a backdrop of a young team heady with success, chanting a wide range of songs and high-fiving.
Darcy De’ath received the most adulation. It was his header 10 minutes before the interval which gave United their 13th win out of 16 league games, extending their lead to six points.
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It was a goal that provoked some contention among the Haverhill Borough contingent, though.
If the deadlock was to be broken then it would come from one of Tom Bradlaugh’s dangerous, swerving, incisive set-pieces. An unmarked De’ath met one of them, a corner, full on with his head. It was powered down low, beating the keeper but not quite Ash Drew, the Haverhill right-back on back-post duty. He clawed it out with his left foot and the ball disappeared from view.
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However, the men in green swamped referee Andrea Timpani and beseeched him to give the goal. It crossed the line, they argued. He peeked over to his assistant, tentatively moving up the touchline. Like a cricket umpire in deep analysis he paused time.
But, eventually, slowly, he raised his arm, prompting celebrations.
A few Haverhill players railed at the decision but there was no referral system, no hawkeye replay on hand to present their case. The general consensus in the stand was that it was the correct decision.
It was a breakthrough that followed 35 minutes of patience and probing. It was one valiantly defended for the next hour.
But in truth, it was a disappointing spectacle that can only be remembered for its scrappy nature and keenly-contested tussles. Both physios will wake up this morning still sore from their endless sprint shuttles off the bench to heal the maimed.
So too will Haverhill centre-back Ryan Geoghegan, forced to deal with the pacey Whitton striker Elliott Crowe, who linked up encouragingly with Josh Capocci throughout.
Crowe spun Geoghegan and struck wide early on before Drew tested the reactions of Whitton keeper Liam Jones with a stinging 30-yard shot.
After the goal James Burnett missed a glaring header five yards out at a corner to double the lead.
Haverhill improved marginally after the break but created little until two minutes from time when Callum Harrison, seven yards out, scuffed an effort. He hit the ground in disgust.
Whitton remained organised and combative. Their efforts were exemplified in the last few seconds when Scott Marjoram and Burnett charged down and blocked a long-ranger.
United will play better than this but league-winning sides often look back on these wins with affection.