No change at the top of the Ridgeons

THERE was no change at the top after the Christmas games, with leaders Needham Market maintaining the status quo over second-placed CRC and making a slight improvement on the goal difference between the two.

THERE was no change at the top after the Christmas games, with leaders Needham Market maintaining the status quo over second-placed CRC and making a slight improvement on the goal difference between the two.

A curtailed Boxing Day programme saw just four matches survive the weather with the big winners Kirkley & Pakefield who closed up on the sides above them. Starting the day in seventh place their 2-1 win over third-placed Leiston saw them close the gap, Nathan Stone gave them a second minute lead but former player Chenery won a penalty before the break. Boardley converted but it was Stone who took the glory on 75 minutes when he stooped to head the winner in front of 370 spectators. It was a big blow for the visitors who suffered their sixth defeat of the season.

The other big winners of the day were relegation haunted Wivenhoe who took the points in the basement battle at Broad Lane with a 2-0 victory over Harwich & Parkeston. It left the Shrimpers four points adrift at the bottom while The Dragons closed to within a point of Woodbridge Town.

Of the other surviving games, Debenham went down 3-1 at home to a Walsham side that dominated the game. All square at the break, the visitors struck three times in a ten-minute second-half spell before The Hornets pulled a goal back to give the scoreline some respectability.


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The Cricket Field saw Haverhill pick up three valuable points over home side Newmarket with a nervy 1-0 win, Abbot scored the only goal of the game after just two minutes, but it was a scrappy Christmas affair that left both managers unimpressed by their side's display.

The Monday Bank Holiday games saw all eight scheduled fixtures go ahead with the top two extending the lead over third-placed Leiston and Kirkley making it a very Happy Christmas for joint managers Reynolds and Larter with maximum points from their two games.

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Leaders Needham Market had to work hard for the three points at Summer Road. Leading by a single goal at the break the visitors extended their lead two minutes into the second half through Hilton, but on the hour Attwood pulled one back for Walsham, and two minutes later it was all square with Holder equalising. Needham regained their composure to strike twice in the closing stages to ensure they stay top of the tree going into 2010.

Second-placed CRC had a very local derby when they entertained Histon at the Abbey stadium and ended 2-1 victors to keep them just two points behind the leaders but with three games in hand, Berry with his ninth of the season and Eades were the home side's scorers.

It was a bad holiday for Leiston, although they ended their three-match losing run it's now just two points from their last five games and leaves them seven points adrift of second-placed CRC having played three games more. Twice in front they were pegged back each time at Victory Road by a determined Felixstowe & Walton side who grabbed their second equaliser deep into time added on at the end of the 90 minutes.

Hart gave the home side a half-time lead but Hetherington levelled matters on the hour. Wardley looked to have grabbed all three points when he put his side in front with 14 minutes left but Wright grabbed the injury time equaliser.

Stanway remain in fourth spot despite not playing until Wednesday and although it was a hard-earned draw it cost the Seasiders two places with Kirkley taking maximum Christmas points to move into fifth spot. Enjoying two home games over the Christmas break the Royals notched their second 2-1 win with Norwich United the unfortunate visitors to Walmer Road.

Having much of the early play the Planters spurned several good openings before Shipley gave them a deserved half-time lead and for much of the second half it looked good enough to take the points, but the home side struck twice in the last eight minutes, through Stock and leading scorer Stone to grab all three and leave the visitors shell-shocked as the game turned on its head.

Mildenhall remained in sixth spot as they went goal mad at The Rec Way smashing six past Wisbech to boost their goal difference. The home side were 2-0 up inside three minutes through Turner and Harvey and had doubled that tally before the break. Cobb pulled one back for the Fenmen a minute into the second half but further goals from Sands and Foster saw the home end 6-1 winners.

With the Seasiders dropping to seventh Debenham moved into eighth and within one point, regaining the ground they lost to Walsham. The 2-0 win at Notcutts Park with goals from Deacon and Gedny secured the points to leave the Woodpeckers still to pick up a point on home turf. The defeat leaves Woodbridge deep in relegation trouble, 15 points adrift of the side immediately above them, Norwich United.

Defeat for Wisbech cost them one place, dropping to ninth while Wroxham, without a game over the Christmas period, dropped to tenth.

Despite the home defeat to Needham, Walsham-le-Willows climbed three places on the back of their Boxing Day win at Maitlands to move into 11th place, while Hadleigh's narrow win at Harwich lifted them into 12th. A Ben Garnham second-half strike secured a deserved three points for the Brettsiders, Harwich put up stern resistance for much of the game but the defeat leaves them adrift at the foot of the table.

The final game saw Haverhill looking for a Bank Holiday bonus following their Boxing Day win at Newmarket but they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Ely City. They did climb two places into 15th spot, Banham gave them a lead inside the half hour mark, but Beck had levelled before the break and the Robins had keeper Pacey to thank for securing a point with a string of fine saves in the second half.

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