Blake scores on debut as Stowmarket win 3-0 at The Planters
- Credit: Archant
Norwich United 0 Stowmarket Town 3
Stowmarket Town stretched their lead at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier to eight points, thanks to three second-half goals in a 3-0 win at Norwich United in a clash of the top two.
After a goalless first period, Rick Andrews' men took control in the second period.
Centre forward Josh Mayhew, debutant Matt Blake and centre-half Joe Jefford were all on target to make it nine wins and two draws from Stowmarket's first 11 fixtures of the season.
Mayhew obliged with the opener in the 73rd minute, from point blank range.
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Dave Cowley swung over a teasing cross from the right and Blake jumped high to head on into the danger zone, where Mayhew connected with a diving header from close-in, the ball flying in off the near post.
Having set up the opener, Blake, on as a 60th minute substitute for his debut, following his move from Leiston, bagged the second himself with an excellent finish on 78 minutes, against one of his former clubs. Blake cut in from the left and buried a low shot into the net.
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And Jefford netted the third by clinically heading home a corner in the 86th minute.
Stowmarket defended well in the first half, with a strong wind in their faces, content for the Planters to boss possession.
George Quantrell did tee up Christy Finch on eight minutes, but his shot was charged down by a defender, although the closest to a first-half goal came at the other end, just four minutes later.
Tricky front-runner Finlay Barnes created space for himself on the right edge of the penalty area before curling in a shot that soared beyond keeper James Bradbrook, only to cannon back off the top of the bar.
Otherwise, though, chances were few and far between, with Stow beginning to have more territory as the first half wore on.
They finally threatened again in the 43rd minute as Mayhew's drilled cross-cum-shot flew across the face of goal and wide, the ball eluding Finch at the far upright.
Neither keeper had really been troubled during the first 45 minutes, but that changed early in the second half when Stow custodian, Bradbrook, had to dive smartly to his left to palm away a goal-bound free-kick by Barnes. He pushed the ball around his post.
New signing, Blake, was introduced as a substitute on the hour mark, for Finch, but it was Norwich United threatening again shortly afterwards when striker Liam Jackson misdirected a free header wide, from just six yards out.
Stow began to get more on the front foot approaching the final quarter of the game, and Mayhew's close-range header finally broke the deadlock on 73 minutes, with debutant Blake doubling the lead to wrap up the points just three minutes later.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men, when left-back Anton Clarke was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 82nd minute, the second for a foul on Barnes, but the Suffolk side went up the other end to add a third via Jefford's strong header from an 86th minute corner.
NORWICH UNITED: Pearson, Barker, McLeish, Alexander (sub Forbes, 89), Watts, Eastaugh, Beaumont, Davis, Jackson, Barnes, Fowkes. Unused subs: Forbes, Probert, Pipe, Bussens.
STOWMARKET: Bradbrook, Brown, Clarke, Ainsley, Jefford, Bullard, Read, Quantrell, Finch (sub Blake, 60), Mayhew (sub Sweeney), Cowley (sub Williams, 83). Unused subs: Dunbar, Clarke.
Referee: Oliver Morris-Sanders
Meanwhile, BURY TOWN notched a 3-1 win on the road at Lincoln United, in an FA Trophy extra preliminary round tie.
Cemal Ramadan gave Bury the perfect start by breaking the deadlock inside two minutes, and Ryan Horne doubled that lead on 24 minutes, only for Scott Matthews to halve the deficit five minutes later.
However, Jarid Robson ensured Trophy progress for Bury by adding a third in the 80th minute, in front of a crowd of 175 at Ashby Avenue.
In the Southern League Premier Central, NEEDHAM MARKET claimed an impressive 1-0 away win at Bromsgrove Sporting.
Joe Marsden netted the winner with a superb header in the 67th minute, after Marcus Garnham had pulled off a superb save just before half-time to keep the hosts at bay.
But there was more woe for basement dwellers LEISTON, who crashed to an 8-1 defeat at Peterborough Sports.
Former Colchester United winger Dion Sembie-Ferris scored a hat-trick in this game.
Also on target were skipper Richard Jones and Mark Jones, who both bagged a brace in the first half with Sembie-Ferris also netting for a 5-0 half-time score-line.
Leiston pulled a goal back thanks to a goal from Rhys Henry, who converted after Thomas Hughes' free-kick had been tipped onto the bar, in the 59th minute.
Substitute Marshall Willock added the sixth before Sembie-Ferris scored his second and third goals, with a header and a penalty, to complete the scoring in front of a crowd of 270.
In the Bostik League North, AFC SUDBURY chalked up a 3-0 home win over Basildon United.
After a goalless first period, Mark Morsley's men scored three unanswered goals in the second period through Callum Harrison (49th minute penalty) Baris Altintop (59th minute header, from a corner) and Reece Harris (62).
The turning point came when Basildon were reduced to 10 men after Joseph Turpin was sent off for handball, keeping out Harrison's shot on the goal-line on 48 minutes, after which Harrison dispatched the ensuing penalty to set AFC Sudbury on course for victory in front of a crowd of 226.