Non-league football round-up
RYMAN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISIONChelmsford 1 Billericay Town 0JEFF King's Clarets lead the way in the Ryman League Premier Division heading into 2008 as Danny Kerrigan's unfortunate own-goal was the dividing line in the latest episode between two fierce local rivals at Melbourne.
RYMAN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
Chelmsford 1 Billericay Town 0
JEFF King's Clarets lead the way in the Ryman League Premier Division heading into 2008 as Danny Kerrigan's unfortunate own-goal was the dividing line in the latest episode between two fierce local rivals at Melbourne.
In windy conditions it was the hugely-depleted home side who created the majority of the opportunities, Kezie Ibe's long-ranger after a decent flick-on held by goalkeeper Ronnie Worster early-on. Ricky Holmes almost netted in the 10th minute as he charged forward and seven minutes later Billericay's custodian was tested again as he was baffled by a Jeff Minton free-kick which he nervously bundled onto the crossbar and away to eventual safety.
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City broke the deadlock, however, on 22 minutes, Minton's corner causing further confusion at the near post and Blues defender Kerrigan diverted the ball beyond the helpless Worster for an embarrassing own goal. The deficit could have doubled on 27 minutes when an Ollie Berquez header dropped onto the roof of the net but the Clarets were content to settle for a slender interval advantage.
There was little to excite the 1,935 crowd after the half-time break, although former Ipswich Town defender Aidan Collins' header proved narrowly too high after a 51st-minute corner. Meanwhile, at the other end, Chelmsford goalkeeper Danny Gay did well to nullify a Billericay attack, cleanly stealing the ball from the feet of Wayne Semanshia who was through on goal in the 52nd minute.
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AFC Hornchurch 1 Heybridge Swifts 0
SWIFTS went down in a gritty affair, the only goal coming via a 15th-minute penalty from Mark Janney.
Swifts dominated possession for long periods of the match but the lack of a real cutting edge once again proved to be their downfall.
Swifts have made two loan signings to add to the quality within the squad. Joining from Braintree Town, initially on one-month deals are defender Stephen Good and striker Eugene Ofori.
A Ghanaian under 21 international, Ofori is well known to Swifts fans from his days at Hendon, a prolific striker, he will add punch and experience to the Swifts attack. Director of football Steve Pitt has worked hard in recent weeks to make this deal happen.
RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH
Maldon Town 2 Witham Town 3
THIS was a tremendous performance by all the Witham squad against local rivals Maldon who had three ex-Witham players in the team, with two only just recently signed and their manager ex-Witham manager Russell Tanner.
Witham opened strongly and on their first attack Kevin Hawes hit the crossbar and another shot was cleared of the line. They dominated most of the first half, yet still found themselves a goal down as Steve Wareham scored from the penalty spot after an accidental hand ball.
Witham equalised soon after the break when Kevin Hawes found Cody McDonald with a superb pass and McDonald brushed aside the Maldon defence and shot past Jamie Finch the home keeper. Soon afterwards a shot from Kevin Hawes crept just inside the post to put Witham ahead.
James Robinson then equalised after a Witham player mis-kicked infront of the goal, but Witham rallied towards the end and after going close twice they won the game when Joe Smith lobbed over the crowded goalmouth and into the roof of the net for a wonderful winner and his first goal for the club in the last minute of the game. James Robinson was sent off just before the final whistle for a second bookable offence.
Wivenhoe Town 1 AFC Sudbury 1
IT WAS no surprise that the biggest crowd of the season turned up at Broad Lane for this local derby. It was never a classic a bit dour but none the less compelling.
The home side took the lead after only five minutes when Underwood's glancing header from Bailey's free kick was too good for Neal.
Both defences were solid but it was no surprise that Rowe, who had tormented the Dragons earlier in the season, got the equaliser with a superbly-executed finish in the 35th minute.
The game was heading for a draw when inexplicably the referee added on at least seven minutes and the home side, mindful of previous late mishaps, got nervous as an AFC free kick struck the bar and Wardley shinned it over. Brothers had a shot blocked and then he kicked off his own line as it was heart-in-mouth stuff summed up with the mass scramble in the Sudbury box before Neal fell on the ball. Wivenhoe had some luck at last late on but probably honours even was about right.
Bury Town 4 Arlesey Town 1
ON the back of three successive defeats, Bury came back well to record an emphatic victory over a much-changed Arlesey side.
Bury were also forced into changes due to skipper Tom Bullard and leading scorer Sam Reed both serving one-match bans. Bury gave a full debut to Ipswich Academy loanee Liam Barrett up front, and Lee Smith was moved into the centre of defence.
It was the visitors who started better, but although they had more of the possession, they rarely troubled Greygoose in the Bury goal. As the half progressed Bury settled and started to dictate the play. Several fruitless corners were gained, and Scott Chaplin and Steve Bugg were both guilty of missing good chances. Barrett was looking lively as Bury continued to push forward.
The deadlock was finally broken after 33 minutes, when Chaplin got clear on the left, and his pinpoint cross was volloyed home by Lee Reed. It should have been two soon after, but Michael Steward shot wide from close range.
The second half continued with Bury well on top but unable to increase their lead, and although it was largely one-way traffic, the visitors were dangerous on the break. Bury finally doubled their lead after 69 minutes when Steve Bugg fed Liam Barrett who gave the keeper no chance from 12 yards. Arlesey reduced the arrears three minutes later with a stunning drive from Okojie from fully 30 yards.
Bury regained their two-goal cushion on 79 minutes when man of the match Barrett fired home his second from the edge of the area. Lee Reed completed what had been a fine team performance three minutes from the end, when after good build up play between Barrett and Chaplin, he tapped home the latter's low cross for Bury's fourth.
RIDGEONS LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
Soham Town Rangers 2 Felixstowe & Walton Utd 1
STEVE Potts' side ended the year as they began with a 2-1 defeat but he will be comfortable with his side's progress as they ran title-chasing Soham close with a late save from Jordan and a goalline clearance in time added on denying them a share of the points.
It started badly when Joe Bloomfield saw his intended back header loop over Crump into the net with just three minutes on the clock but the Seasiders' response was positive and they were deservedly level when Phillips pounced on a weak back pass from Williams to round Jordan and fire into an empty net.
Having had the better of the first half the visitors were again rocked when Simpson was put away down the right and Furnell bundled his low cross over the line in the 49th minute. Crump then produced three top-class saves to deny Rangers extending their lead as the home side grabbed the initiative and in the closing minutes it was all Felixstowe with Jordan producing a fine save to deny Goddard and Hinde clearing off the line to deny Hetherington turning in Phillips cross.
Newmarket 1 Needham Market 3
NEEDHAM Market ended 2007 on a high note with this hard-fought victory at Newmarket.
Needham dominated the opening exchanges with Matt Paynter in the home goal having to be very alert. The Jockeys had to wait 15 minutes for their first real effort on goal but Chris Streceki's shot was deflected high and wide. Two minutes later Needham took the lead when James Evans finished a Danny Thrower cross. Newmarket had more of the game in the second period mainly due to the strong wind and the use of the long ball. In the 70th minute this paid off as Chris Streceki latched on to a long ball and made no mistake from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
Needham soon regained the lead when five minutes later James Evans returned the favour for Danny Thrower to score. Three minutes from time Needham scored a third goal after some intricate play between James Evans and Paul Berry allowing Craig Parker to smash the ball home from 18 yards to confirm Needham's top spot in the league as they enter the New Year.
Walsham-le-Willows 2 Ipswich Wanderers 1
THIS game was very exciting with plenty of incidents throughout to keep spectators interested.
Walsham dominated the early play but could not find the net, but against the run of play Snell ran down the right and crossed only to see Nocton handle in the penalty area. However, Walsham keeper Bugg saved Snell's spot kick and Walsham began to turn the screw.
Musgrove's excellent crosses were causing panic in the visitors' defence and it was no surprise when his inswinging corner was touched home by Brown.
Walsham should have finished the game there and then but they allowed Wanderers back in to the game and gave away another penalty when Hazleton upended McGlone. This time sub Lewis Driver made no mistake to equalise. At the start of the second half Bugg saved well from Allen but the referee gave a penalty, only to change his mind after speaking to his assistant. Walsham then dominated play and scored a second goal through Brown. Wanderers drove forward in search of an equaliser, but stout defending and some brilliant goalkeeping by Bugg denied them a point.
Kirkley & Pakesfield 0 Haverhill Rovers 1
KIRKLEY'S roller-coaster season took a nosedive when a resolute Haverhill Rovers side held out for a narrow 1-0 win.
Kirkley had the lion's share of possession at the start and squandered a great chance to go ahead from a penalty spot after a handball incident, but Haverhill keeper Aaron Benstead guessed right from Danny Stokeld's spot kick and the scoreline remained blank on the 16th minute mark.
On 30 minutes Adam Ben-Saud sent over a pin-point cross for a flying Marcus Westcott header that looped just wide and a minute later came the only goal of the match as Kirkley were made to rue their earlier penalty miss when Mick Impey nipped into the box and toe poked the ball over the line from two yards out. Just before half time Chris Henderson and Lee Hunter both had long-range efforts that skimmed the Haverhill crossbar. Kirkley came out in the second half and appeared to be still in the dressing room giving chances to Westcott and Impey who both fluffed their chances. Kirkley kept probing away from every angle but could not find a way through. Benstead made a good save from Jamie Stokeld and as the final quarter began Kirkley were exposed several times pushing forward for the equaliser and their star forward Impey failed to take his chances for Haverhill to increase their lead on the day.
Woodbridge Town 1 Swaffham 2
WOODBRIDGE'S lack of firepower saw them unable to recover from a two-goal deficit inside the first quarter of the match despite some good possession.
A long ball over the top of the defence saw Harper shoot the visitors ahead as early as the third minute, and Raspberry made it two when he scored from an angle after Voutt had dispossessed Foster midway in the Woodbridge half after 22 minutes.
Read headed home Seaman's corner five minutes into the second half and should have equalised when left with a free header at the near post from Jennings' corner with an hour played.
Although Woodbridge played some neat football they were unable to create any chances to find an equaliser as neither side managed a shot on target in the final half hour.
Harwich & Parkeston 1 CRC 3
IT WAS the young charges of CRC that put the home side under early pressure, Adam Marriott courting the attentions of the Harwich rearguard with his pace as the visitors twice clattered the woodwork in their endeavour to break the deadlock.
On a heavy pitch Harwich muscled their way into the match but it was CRC that made their dominance pay a minute before the interval, Wixon cutting in from the right with a shot that flashed past Wootten at the near post.
Harwich started the second-half the more competitive, the midfield linking up with the front two, but in a half punctuated by long injuries it was CRC that extended their lead in the 65th minute, Patrick hauled down in the area, Wixon converting the resultant penalty.
Harwich reduced the deficit, Hughes losing the attention of his marker to direct a thunderous header past Beagle. The hosts, now in the ascendancy, had golden opportunities to bring the scores level, both Calver and Jones missing from close range. Leaving themselves exposed at the back though allowed Bowe to flatter the scoreline for CRC, breaking out from midfield, and sliding the ball underneath Wootten to make the final score 3-1.
RIDGEONS LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION
Tiptree Utd 1 Godmanchester 0
LEAGUE leaders Tiptree United won their last match of 2007 against Godmanchester Rovers 1-0 and by doing so preserved their 100% home record.
The deciding goal by Tommy English not only added another goal to his tally as leading goalscorer in the division but he also scored for the eighth match running.
Tiptree had many chances to score during the match but the only goal came after 22minutes when Defeo won the ball on the left and crossed into the penalty area, where Webster headed across for English to strike from close range.
In the last quarter of the match Ward and Webster both fired wide, then Hill shot against the Godmanchester crossbar. With minutes remaining the visitors almost stole the show from under Tiptree's noses, when Hughill forced an excellent tip over from Smith.
March Town Utd 0 Halstead Town 1
PAUL Abrahams' 35th minute goal from the penalty spot lifted Halstead to sixth place in the table at the end of a superb December in which they won all six games, which including two cup successes.
The final margin could have been even greater with efforts from Abrahams in the first, and Ross Barton in the second half ruled out, while a blatant penalty for an offence on the latter was waved away close on time.
The only goal of the game came when defender Sam Bate brought down Abrahams in the box, and the former Colchester United player got up and slammed a firm spot kick home, sending the keeper the wrong direction.
The game followed a similar pattern after the break with Halstead constantly on the attack but March's ploy of pulling everyone back behind the ball, and using the offside trap to good effect appeared successful, while when the home side did attack their shooting was wildly off target and Paul Wood had very little to do apart from tipping over a fine Jim Richardson shot.
FC Clacton 4 Stowmarket Town 1
FOUR goals for the home side in the first half settled the outcome of this encounter.
Simon Carmichael glanced home Andy Taylor's free kick from the right after 11 minutes and two minutes later Kevin Coyle fired home from 25 yards. Stowmarket struck the bar before Michael Lynness stabbed home the third after Matt Waters had pulled the ball back from the bye-line with just 17 minutes played. Waters added the fourth when a deflected clearance by visiting keeper Ross Charters fell into his path.
Stowmarket showed more resilience in the second period and scored the only goal of the half through a fine 35-yard strike from Matt Ryland.
Diss Town 6 Cornard Utd 0
AFTER scoring three goals in each half, could this make Diss an outside bet for a late run for promotion?
Danny Partridge opened the scoring before Gavin Norman made it 2-0. Cornard played their part but were badly hit by a penalty, converted by Dale Vince. Danny Partridge and Gavin Norman added a goal each in the second half, Steve Best's turn and shot completing the scoring.
Debenham LC 2 Fakenham T 2
THE Hornets ended the year in disappointing fashion by dropping two points to bottom-of-the-table Fakenham.
However, but for a brilliant second-half display from keeper Craig Ellis it could have been much worse for Debenham as the visitors belied their lowly position.
Fakenham started the livelier of the two sides only to hand Debenham the lead when Ian Raisbury in trying to clear for a corner instead found the back of his own net. In the heavy conditions the Hornets doubled their advantage as Ben Tawell started and finished a flowing move with a shot from an acute angle.
Fakenham pulled a goal back before the break when Ben Darby converted from the spot. The second half was one-way traffic with Debenham hanging on to their slender lead against the rejuvenated visitors. Ellis twice denied Darby but had no chance in the 89th minute as Darby was left all alone to steer home the equaliser. A sorry afternoon finished with the Hornets down to ten men following Shaun French's second yellow card.
Long Melford 0 Ely City 4
THE final scoreline reflected the superiority of the visiting team who in truth strolled to a comfortable win.
The home team, already without Darren Pratt, lost Neil Hayward before the game when he injured himself in the warm-up.
After 22 minutes Ely went ahead when Warren fired home, giving Croll in the Melford goal no chance.
Pettitt was allowed time and space by the Melford defence to add a second. Smith sidefooted home the third early in the second half and Croll brought off some excellent saves as the sheer physical presence of the Ely team was a dominant feature of the game.
Nine minutes from the final whistle Ely sealed the game when Mason forced his way though into the Melford box and fired wide of Croll, to give Ely a convincing victory against a disappointing Melford particularly after their recent win against local rivals Cornard.
Thetford 1 Hadleigh 2
HADLEIGH took the lead after three minutes when Oakes crossed from the left and Payne scored with a well-taken header.
Hadleigh were dealt a blow when new signing Irving had to retire with a knee injury after 29 minutes. Thetford drew level in the 39th minute with Cathchpole firing the ball in after a corner had been turned back into the area.
Good goalkeeping by Whitwell and Hulyerprevented further goals until substitute Goodchild was sent flying by Hulyer outside the area after 78 minutes. The keeper escaped with a yellow card, with Dennett netting the resultant free kick to give Hadleigh victory.
Great Yarmouth 1 Whitton Utd 1
THE cold wind was blowing hard, as it always seems to do when Whitton ride into town but the temperature didn't raise itself much on the pitch.
This was a rather lacking performance from two noteworthy sides that rally should have done better with the chances that were on offer.
The visitors went ahead as early as the fourth minute when Leon Parnell looped a header over home keeper Elliott Pride but the eagerly anticipated onslaught never materialised. Simon Hyde deflected a retaliatory thunderbolt from Stuart Roach over the bar in a game dominated by the keepers and the two defences.
Both keepers were on top form and needed to be when the efforts did start to be turned into chances though it took until the 76th minute before a shot from Mark Thompson was parried by Darren Moyes with Nicky Crawley reacting the quickest to slip the ball in for the equaliser. There was plenty of extra time as the referee had to replace himself with a muscle problem but neither side could produce the winner.