Honours even between Stowmarket Town and Coggeshall Town
Stowmarket Town and 10-man Coggeshall Town played out a goalless draw on Saturday, as the top two sides in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division cancelled each other out at Greens Meadow.
First Division leaders Coggeshall visited Suffolk at the weekend, looking to extend their six-point lead at the summit, while second-placed Stowmarket knew a win over their title rivals would move them to within three points of the top.
As well as pitting the leading two sides in the table together, this fixture saw the league’s best attack (Coggeshall – 65 goals scored) go up against the league’s best defence (Stowmarket – 11 goals conceded).
And at the full-time whistle neither side could be separated, with both teams earning a point for their efforts in a game which saw little in the way of clear-cut chances.
After seeing his charges suffer a shock exit in the Suffolk Senior Cup at home to lower league Capel Plough last time out, Stowmarket manager Rick Andrews made five changes to his starting line-up.
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Back came in first choice goalkeeper Lewis Higgins in between the sticks, Scott Marjoram returned to form a back three alongside captain Duane Wright and Jon Carver, while Lamell Howell, Mical Moore and Jack Baker were also recalled in midfield for the home side.
Meanwhile, visitors Coggeshall included their two goal machines in their starting XI, in the shape of former Colchester United striker Nnamdi Nwachuku (30 goals) and Tom Monk (18 goals).
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Both men came off the bench and scored in a 7-0 mauling against Stowmarket in the First Division Knockout Cup back in early September, and if Andrews’ men were to avoid a similar fate this time round they would need to keep them quiet.
A loose pass in front of his own box by Carver handed Nwachuku an early sight of goal in the second minute, but the in-form frontman saw his effort go agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
In a game of few chances, it was a costly miss. Stow put up a solid defensive rearguard for the rest of the afternoon and made it difficult for their Essex visitors to create any clear openings.
Coggeshall were dealt a blow when Monk was forced off with an injury on 26 minutes. His replacement Edilson Cruz did not lack in enthusiasm but his end-product did not match that of his injured team-mate.
In the 72nd minute, Stow goalkeeper Higgins came out to clear the ball with his head. The ball fell to Cruz out on the right wing and his attempted lob was clawed away by the stopper.
Two minutes later and the substitute was presented with another chance to break the deadlock, but this time he dragged his shot narrowly wide of the far corner.
At the other end, Stow were starved of chances all afternoon, despite the best efforts of a hardworking Steve Holder in the lone striker role, and the hosts rarely troubled the under-worked Matthew Walker in the Coggeshall goal.
The visitors were forced to finish the game with 10 men after Nwachuku was shown a straight red card with nine minutes to go.