Willows pip Rovers thanks to Cusack’s early strike
- Credit: Archant
Haverhill Rovers 0 Walsham-le-Willows 1
Two of the in-form teams of the Thurlow Nunn Premier served up some rich entertainment in the drizzle at The New Croft.
In the end, an early strike from Andrew Cusack proved enough to extend Walsham-le-Willows’ superb recent unbeaten run to six wins and a draw from their last seven fixtures.
But Haverhill, who were themselves on a good run of four wins in the previous six league games, were very unlucky not to at least secure a point in what was a very tight game.
The Willows dominated the first quarter of the match, and could have been more than the odd-goal ahead, but Rovers gained the ascendancy as the first half wore on, before both sides created a host of chances during a frenetic second period.
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Walsham captain Jack Braeme has bagged most of the goals for his side this season, with 14 to his name, but it was Cusack rather than the visitors’ No. 9 who obliged with the all-important early goal, on six minutes.
Home keeper Mitchell Ware did well to prevent a powerful low drive by Jack Spampanato from sneaking in at his near post. He clattered into the post while diverting the ball behind for a corner, but the Willows struck from the ensuing delivery, with Cusack firing home through a crowded penalty area.
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Winger Ryan Gibbs looked particularly dangerous when in full flow, as the visitors went in search of more goals. On 10 minutes, Gibbs exchanged one-twos with Lee Warren and Craig Nurse before testing Ware with a shot that was well saved.
But Rovers gradually began to inch their way into the contest, and they nearly levelled when Mark Lovell whipped a ball across the face of goal. Team-mate Mitchell Burr arrived just a fraction too late to divert home.
The home side’s best chance was on the hour mark. Ben Bradley’s cross was perfect for Jemel Fox to connect with a low volley which Steve Fenner saved.
Rovers stepped up their bid for an equaliser during the closing minutes, spurred on by player-manager Marc Abbott in the middle of the park, and Bradley had a goalbound shot deflected wide in the 88th minute.
The match ended on a sour note, with home keeper Ware suffering concussion following an accidental collision with Braeme.
The game resumed, after a stoppage of eight minutes, but there was not time for Rovers to mount another serious attack.
HAVERHILL: Ware (sub Miles, 90+8), Halls, Fox, Yallop (sub Noble, 76), Holmes, Carroll, Abbott, Bradley, Turner, Lovell, Burr (sub Tait).
WALSHAM: Fenner, Warren, Peters, Saffrey, Cusack, Sim, Gibbs (sub McPhillips, 88), Boulter, Braeme, Nurse (sub Hammond, 80), J Sampanato (sub E Sampanato, 70).