New Hadleigh United boss Ian Brown gets off to perfect start against former side Whitton United

Hadleigh United v Whitton United
Left to right, Chris Williams and Paul Donnelly.

Hadleigh United v Whitton United Left to right, Chris Williams and Paul Donnelly. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ian Brown got off to the perfect start as manager of Hadleigh United on Saturday as the Brettsiders defeated Suffolk rivals Whitton United 3-2 in a five-goal thriller.

In his first game in charge of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division champions since his appointment 10 days ago, Brown inflicted a defeat on former employees Whitton – a club he holds close to his heart having played and managed for previously.

Visitors Whitton came into the game on an incredible run of form, having not lost a league game since the end of September, but that run was abruptly halted by a Brettsiders’ side evidently trying to impress their new manager.

Deserved winners, Hadleigh ultimately scored goals at key times – just before and after half-time – in a feisty Suffolk derby that saw no love lost between the sides, with some robust tackles flying in!

Whitton’s Anton Clarke found himself in the book after just 11 minutes following a heavy challenge on Luke Hammond, a rivalry that continued throughout the afternoon.

The visitors started the brighter, and with Clarke working neat triangles alongside his brother Ethan and frontman Allicion Blake, Sam Mead almost caught Ben Nower out with a swirling free-kick inside the opening five minutes.

Hadleigh immediately hit back though, and their two prized assets, wingers Matt Downing and Scott Chaplin, combined a minute later, with the latter sliding his effort wide.

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The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute as a scampering run and pass down the right-hand side from Whitton’s Chris Williams saw Blake smash home off the underside off the crossbar from close-range.

Hadleigh looked shocked, but gathered their composure in the rest of the half.

David Lorimer looked to have equalised in the 24th minute after rounding Liam Jones, but the striker saw his weak effort cleared off the line by the sliding Robbie Knott.

The game then took a major twist in the 43rd minute as referee Thomas Hancock pointed to the spot after Downing took a tumble under pressure from Arran Sheppard – an unpopular decision with the Whitton faithful.

Downing duly did the honours from the spot to send the teams into the break level pegging.

The contest continued to heat up at the start of the second half, and Whitton’s Williams can perhaps count himself lucky not to have received his marching orders following an off-the-ball two-handed shove on Hammond, following a late challenge from the Hadleigh midfielder.

Hadleigh took the lead in the 51st minute as Downing’s cross from the by-line was superbly nodded back by the flying Lorimer for Michael Barwick to lash home.

Jones then denied Chaplin, who was becoming increasingly proactive in the game, and it was from his cross that the unmarked Ryan Stafford headed home a killer third goal in the 57th minute.

The goal, started by ‘keeper Nower’s quick kick, was a beautiful one from Hadleigh’s point of view, as the left-back got himself onto the end of a flowing move that sliced open Whitton.

Hadleigh started to carve open opportunities with Jones saving from Lorimer and Chaplin, and Sheppard brilliantly heading Kyle Cassell’s effort off the goal-line.

Whitton gave themselves a lifeline with three minutes left as Ethan Clarke’s deflected effort nestled home.

But it was too little too late.

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