Ridgeons League round-up

WITH leaders CRC having a free afternoon it gave the chasing pack the opportunity to close the gap and the five teams immediately below them grasped the opportunity.

WITH leaders CRC having a free afternoon it gave the chasing pack the opportunity to close the gap and the five teams immediately below them grasped the opportunity.

Second-placed Needham collected the points at home to Ely City with two goals in the opening 25 minutes. Bethell fired them in to a third minute lead and Barber doubled the score in the 22nd minute. Despite plenty of the ball and good openings the Marketmen failed to add to their early goals but moved to within four points of the leaders.

Third-placed Leiston grabbed the game's only goal in the 64th minute at Outwell through Ottley-Gooch. It was a scrappy affair on a heavy surface and new Wisbech manager Steve Appleby was left with plenty to think about after the Fenmen's first home defeat since September.

Kirkley & Pakefield made it a good week as they consolidated their fourth spot with their second 4-0 win in five days. There was no luck for the visitors with Stuart turning Stock's cross into his own net for the opener then seeing strong penalty appeals turned down before Stock added a second before the break. De Coteau rifled home the third on 65 minutes and Stone added the fourth just before the end.

There were goals galore at The Millfield as fifth-placed Stanway collected all three points in a seven-goal thriller. The league's leading scorer Sam Newson put the visitors ahead and Bailey added a second before the break. Hadleigh rallied early in the second half with Payne netting from the spot and Leys levelling matters on 54 minutes. A shock looked on the cards when Payne put Hadleigh in front on the hour but the visitors came back with McCluskey pulling Stanway level at 3-3 and that man Newson hitting what proved to be the winner with five minutes left.

Sixth-placed Mildenhall were under first half pressure from relegation threatened Woodbridge but the visitors failed to score and in the end it was a routine win for the 'Hall. Murkin, Turner and Werthman all netted after the break to extend their unbeaten run to seven games.

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Felixstowe & Walton started the day in seventh but slipped a place to eighth as Haverhill moved above them following their narrow win over Debenham LC. A Shaun Banham effort in the 35th minute was enough to decide all three points although the home side had to scramble the ball clear in the closing minutes to deny the Hornets an equaliser.

Dereham remained in ninth as they were suffering a shock home defeat in the Norfolk Senior Cup and Walsham le Willows climbed three into a top-ten place with their win at The Glassworld Stadium. Tatham gave Paul Smith's side a half-time lead and added a second on 55 minutes. Baxter pulled a goal back for Histon before Head restored the two-goal buffer and Taafe made it 2-3 just before the end to give the scoreline a respectable look about it.

Wisbech's home defeat saw them drop one place to 11th with Wroxham, who thumped five past Royston to secure a fifth round Vase meeting with Needham Market, dropping to 12th. Debenham's defeat at Hamlet Croft cost them one place while Newmarket climbed three spots into 13th following their emphatic home win over basement club Wivenhoe.

Crawley gave the Jockeys the half time lead with Bell doubling that three minutes into the second half. Wivenhoe did pull one back but Youngs and Bugg both netted late on to condemn the basement club to another defeat.

Ely and Hadleigh both lost ground dropping to 15th and 16th respectively following their defeats while Histon remained in 17th spot. Norwich United stayed in 18th spot while hitting three past Cromer Town in the Norfolk Senior Cup and remain well clear of the bottom two with 19th placed Woodbridge 16 points adrift of the Planters having played one game more.

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