Newmarket Town hosted the final match of the A11 Ground Hop organised by the Thurlow Nunn League with a 6pm kick off. The day started at Thetford Town with a noon kick off, followed by a 3pm kick off at Mildenhall Town before finishing at Newmarket Town v Haverhill Rovers. The ground filled with ‘ground hoppers’ who had both completed the A11 version and others who had taken the opportunity to see other local matches with similar kick off times. Many ‘hoppers’ are known to each other and it’s like catching up with family at an event.
The match kicked off with Rovers shooting from right to left but it was Newmarket Town who had the early exchanges. On 5 minutes an early cross from Holder was headed just wide of Cherry’s goal by Parkinson. Then soon afterwards Farrant caused Wayne to tumble on the edge of the D and the referee awarded Newmarket a free kick, taken by Dalby who shot straight into the net on the 8th minute. Newmarket continued to press and some battling work down the right hand side saw Wayne cross the ball in towards Holder whose header was tipped onto the bar by Cherry and went in.
On 24 minutes a burst through from Hunt and a high kick over the top of the Newmarket defence gave an opportunity for Alleyne and O’Brien to press forward but was caught up high by GK Lawton. Rovers continued to press, and pressure in the box required a punch out from Lawton which then hit a bobble in the ground and defied O’Brien by bouncing the wrong way and meant that Lawton was able to clear his lines for a corner. The resulting corner was swung in for the onrushing header to hit the bar and come out far enough to be whipped away by Newmarket.
A quick run forward from Wayne ended with a strike towards goal from 40 yards onto Cherry’s fingertips and over the bar which was followed up by four corners, two from both sides, which were defended stoutly and finally cleared up field. Then Paterson (Scott) had a strike at goal from 35 yards but straight at Cherry’s hands who held firm. Rovers were awarded a free kick on the corner of the 18 yard box for a hand ball which was kicked out for a corner but the resulting corner didn’t reach a Rovers player and was cleared. HT 2:0
Early in the second half Clift was brought on for Parkinson just before a cross from Dalby from the right side bounced in front of Cherry and over his head into the net. Rovers then took Stevenson off and brought on Sigler which injected a bit of urgency into the Rovers side and a cross from Abbott (Marc) needed a strong catch from the keeper. On 75 the ball fell to the feet of Webster who struck home whilst the rest of the players had stood still, it was as if a whistle had been heard and all but Webster had heard it. This was quickly followed by a further Newmarket substitution as Holder was replaced by Snaith.
Some quick thinking and ball work from Holmes was eventually threaded through for an onrushing Alleyne but was just a little too strong from him to catch before running into the arms of the keeper. Continued pressure provided a corner which was whipped into the box and volleyed home by Hunt from the edge of the box. This injected some energy into the Rovers players and Alleyne was threaded a ball through by Elkins but was sandwiched by two Newmarket players, one of which was able to take it off his toes to safety. Some further link up play between O’Brien and Alleyne enabled O’Brien to take the ball forward down the right hand to cross into Alleyne but was snaffled up by the keeper.
A final substitution from Newmarket saw Wayne replaced by Chadwick with less than ten minutes to play. The uneven ground then saw the keeper skewer the ball high into the air and out for a corner which was initially punched away by the keeper before landing with Abbott to take a strike but went out for a goal kick. A quick run by Sigler enabled him to cross the ball from the right side of the pitch to the left onto the feet of O’’Brien who went for goal and only the fingertips of Lawton prevented the goal. The resultant corner was swung in by Abbott onto the head of an unmarked Farrant for him to send goal bound. Newmarket had a burst of pace from Clift who took the ball down the left hand side but shot into the side netting. Then some good work from Shinn in the middle who sprayed the ball from left to right looking for an opening in the Newmarket defence finally allowed a through ball for Sigler but it was too quick for him to catch. FT 4-2
Team: Cherry, Holmes, Gardener, Shinn, Farrant, Hunt, Abbott M, Elkins, Alleyne, O’Brien, Stevenson (Sigler 63)
Subs not used: Moody, Abbott P, Newnes
Man of the match: Marcus Hunt.