Anglian Combination Premier Division
t CROMER TOWN 2, ACLE UNITED 0
Season 2008-9 started with an away trip to Cromer for an evening kick-off of 7.30pm on a pitch that shames a lot of Ridgeon club pitches such was the excellent surface prepared for this opening game. The fact that the first half finished goalless had nothing to do with the pitch but to the two teams cancelling themselves out such was the skill on show.
Acle's central back two of Andrew Wright and Daniel Foreman dominated their part of the field so confidently that rooky goalkeeper Scott Foreman had little to do, however when called upon he proved a capable claimant for the regular position. Peter Nobbs more than coped with the double threat of Hunton and Durrant but Kyle Halsey blotted his copybook by lashing out at Parker and being rightly shown the red card. The visitors' struggled at times to mount any serious attacks having to play with just Ben Morgan as a lone striker and the five midfielders unable to get up in support.
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Half time arrived with hardly a clear cut chance being created at either end and play confined to the central area between the two penalty areas.
Early in the second period the hosts took the advantage to score twice and kill the game off. This knocked the stuffing out of the visitors as they were left to chase the game. A long hopeful punt up-field found Eves who skipped past Nobbs only to see visiting keeper Foreman lose his footing at the crucial moment and Cromer's striker coolly put his side in front. Almost immediately this advantage was doubled as the hosts centre back Harwood hit a long high ball from the halfway line and Foreman lost sight of the flight in the floodlights and the ball finished in the net for Cromer's second. Acle then used their full quota of substitutes in an effort to get something from the game but the effort came to no avail. Acle's young striker Ben Morgan was injured near the end and following a lengthy stoppage had to leave the field on the stretcher. All at Acle FC thank the Cromer physios for their assistance at this time as we hope the injury is not as bad as first thought.
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t HEMPNALL 1, BLOFIELD 0
BLOFIELD Players and spectators reacted in a state of stunned disbelief at the end of this game which saw our hosts win by the only goal of the game when the Beavers had dominated arguably 80 per cent of the game, even more so in the first half which had the Hempnall goal bearing a charmed life.
A number of new signings appeared on both sides. Luke Adcock started in defence, Lee Skoyles in midfield and Lee Knell up-front, with Ricky Knell and Ros Durrant on the bench. Danny Brown returned starting wide on the right in Danny MacKail's position, who could not change his work shift. Robert Woodcock was playing his first and possibly last game for the club, having been pursued relentlessly by Kirkley & Pakefield to scupper early season plans.
The first half was simply one-way traffic. Cudden in the home goal was in early action saving from Brown and O'Brien. Woodcock was serving us well with his intelligent and varied distribution on the few occasions he needed to touch the ball and latching on to one of his long clearances Danny went just over. On 18 minutes Chris might have scored from a Deano cross but found the side netting. And so it continued throughout the first half with the Beavers not being able to capitalise on their approach work with the finishing touch. We ought to have been at least four goals to the good at half-time. Memories of Wroxham last season.
The second half continued in much the same vein. The newcomers were showing up well and could not be faulted. Deano headed straight to Cudden from a Sizz cross and Harte had shots blocked in succession. Another Deano effort from long range went just over. Durrant replaced Lee Knell who had worked hard on the left. But as is often the case when superiority has not been reflected in the goals for column, we were made to pay dearly when an isolated attack saw a Hempnall forward finding sufficient space to beat Woodie just inside his right post on 70 minutes.
Neil Maguire came on for Skoyles who had battled well in the middle with “90 minute” Sizz and further efforts on the Hempnall goal were thwarted. Twice Chris O'Brien went close with a header and a drive just wide. Time was running out and Cudden survived in keeping a clean sheet with support from his defenders who seemed to be in the way of everything.
This was a hard, combative game but played in good spirit. Paddy and Paul were obviously very disappointed at the end result but will now be focussing their thoughts on the visit of Loddon to the Rec next Tuesday. I suspect that Hempnall will not have a tougher visit this season.
The Reserves went down 0-2 away at Freethorpe.
t HINDRINGHAM 3, HOLT UNITED 1
Premier Division Hindringham entertained local rivals and promoted Holt for the first match of the season. The Hindringham squad was hit with call offs from Clipston, Cameron and Hart. Manager for the night Parsley set his stall out to attack a Holt side, which had lost its manager in midweek.
Darren Mattless returned to the club, Yotty came into centre midfield to make his full senior debut, Jason West came in at right back, also making his senior debut and Scott Gray returned to the club where he enjoyed so much success after a short spell at Dereham.
Hindringham set out in a 4-4-2 formation, and tried to get at Holt wide, West and Gray were combining well up front and causing the Holt to defence to make sloppy passes out of defence. Holt came back into the game, and Moore drove into the box and scored after Hindringham failed to attack the ball.
Hindringham did not panic and tried to get the ball down and play, Chilvers was getting joy down the left and putting some dangerous balls into the box. Skipper West latched onto a through ball and was brought down from behind when clean through, the Holt No. 4 receiving his marching orders, Gray stepped up to fire Hindringham Level. Hindringham then got control of the match, with Yotti and Coslett winning the midfield battle, Hindringham looked dangerous on the break, they took a deserved lead, when Gray's cross come shot went into the top corner.
Hindringham lost control at the start of the second half and allowed Holt to much time and to their credit Holt battled well and Hindringham were giving the needless free kicks, which were causing all sorts of problems.
Hindringham were thankful for keeper Osler for producing three quality saves to keep Hindringham in front. Hindringham always looked dangerous on the break, and when a great move near the end involving Chilvers, West and Coslett ended in Scott Gray placing the ball under the oncoming keeper to give Hindringham to victory in this derby game.
Manager Parsley said afterwards: “Full credit must go to the new boys tonight who have not played at this level before, the likes of Jason West, Yotti who came in and gave their all, they now hold the shirts and it's up to the others to train hard to gain them back. All in all with the call offs though, this was a pleasing result for the club.”
Next game Cromer away Tuesday night, 7.30 ko.
t LODDON UNITED 2, BECCLES TOWN 1
LODDON United returned to the top flight of the Anglian Combination after an absence of over 10 seasons on Thursday night with a home fixture against Beccles Town.
Due to deadlines a report on this game will follow next week. Gaining promotion was a hard fought affair but we eventually saw off the challenges from Holt and Watton who I am delighted will be in the same division as us next season as they are such pleasant places to travel to.
Much has been said, and probably will continue to be, about the constitution of this year's league but at the annual meeting it was unanimously voted in.
If people felt that strongly then they should have done something about it rather than just moaning behind the scenes. Only Hindringham bothered to put in a counter proposal but that was defeated, so people need to knuckle down and get on with it.
There have been very few changes at the club during the close season and the vast majority of the First XI have signed on again and are looking forward to testing themselves against the best that the Premier Division has to offer. Dave Matthews has moved up to join Ciaran Creegan on an equal footing in running the side and both of them are looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. The one major blow for the club was the failure to secure Connie Catchpole on a long term contract following 40 years service as First XI laundry lady and words alone cannot express our gratitude to Connie for all she has done for the club.
Loddon United Reserves also look forward to new challenges as they will be playing in Division Three next season after finishing fourth last season. Simon Key has stepped in to take over the side after playing the final third of last season with no permanent manager and the one thing the side won't be lacking is a manager with self-belief. Another change in the back room staff as Bridget Jermy also declined a new contract and again the club is extremely grateful to Bridget for all the work she has done for us over the last five years or so.
Loddon United A will once again be under the guidance of Mark Stone for the forthcoming season. Mark has done a superb job for the club over the last two seasons with the club's training and is now entering his second season as A team manager after a successful campaign last time out.
Much to look forward to…
t SHERINGHAM 2, NORTH WALSHAM TOWN 3
NORTH Walsham travelled to their rivals Sheringham for the opening fixture of the new campaign and put in a fine display mixed with the essential ingredient of desire to come away with a most welcome and well deserved 3-2 victory.
Town started the game on the back foot as Sheringham took the upper hand in the early exchanges and Town were thankful for a good Kellett block from Holmes after five minutes. The Sheringham midfield of Magee and Edridge were dictating the play and following an interchange between the two, Gleave was released down the left wing and his cross was bundled over the line by Fox to give the home side a 15th minute lead.
Following the goal, Town got into the game and both sides began trading blows in an end-to-end encounter with chances being created at either end. Both Miller and Hinton went close before the equaliser came. David Hinton received the ball from Gray, before exchanging passes with Miller and jinking into the box from where his shot took a deflection to deceive Frost in the Sheringham goal and nestle in the bottom corner.
The half continued in much the same vein with both sides looking threatening. Landamore was beginning to pull the strings in midfield with Miller and Skipper assisting ably and Clarke was leading the line wonderfully well, whilst King and Gleave continued to look dangerous for Sheringham. However, no further chances were converted to leave honours even at the break.
The second half began under grey skies and Sheringham again grabbed the upper hand with a 55th minute strike. Holmes broke clear, cut back on to his left foot and curled a sumptuous shot into the top corner to leave Kellett helpless.
Moments later, the grey skies turned to a torrential downpour, but Town managed to weather the storm and came back into the game. Again, Hinton and Wilton were the tormentors-in-chief as they seemed difficult to contain in the slippery conditions and on 70 minutes, Walsham grabbed a deserved equaliser. Hinton picked up the ball, skipped past two markers before sliding Robert Grand into the clear and he prodded the ball into the bottom corner. Town then moved up a gear and they took the lead on 75 minutes. Wilton, whose dazzling footwork was mesmerising the home defence throughout, eased into space before drilling a cross into the box that was bundled home by Lee Clarke. Clarke and assistant manager Chase celebrated as if they had won the World Cup but there was still work to do. However, with Landamore covering every inch of grass, Gray and Palmer looking composed and Cullington and Lown standing tall at the back, keeper Kellett was rarely threatened and Town held out for the all important three points.
This is the third consecutive season that Town have defeated their more illustrious opponents on the opening day, but manager Musgrove was quick to point out that it is a marathon not a sprint and we are only 0.86 miles into the season and the lads need to carry this form into future encounters.
t WROXHAM RESERVES 1, BRANDON TOWN 0
Brandon Town began their season with the long trip to last year's Sterry Cup winners Wroxham Reserves for an evening fixture and went agonisingly close to taking a point away from Trafford Park.
Bellingham shot tamely after three minutes and more encouragement soon followed when Jackson fumbled what should have been a regulation catch. The hosts, as always, played some excellent football but largely in the areas that Brandon allowed them to before shutting them down as they pressed forward. On the few occasions they managed to prize open the defence, Corston dealt comfortably with the threat. John Waites had two chances in three minutes but could not capitalise, one coming from poor handling by the keeper.
The second half saw Wroxham begin to assert more pressure but they could not make their possession count for much. Winstone saw his free-kick deflected over just after the hour. Wroxham had a glaring miss minutes later but Corston maintained his excellent game and marshalled the tiring defence well. Waites was replaced by Wright after the former had run himself to a standstill and the latter was soon troubling the defence, he collected the ball with the keeper to beat but snatched his shot wide.
In truth Brandon never tested the opposing keeper enough as he looked vulnerable on the few occasions his goal was threatened. It looked as though Brandon would hold on for an immensely hard earned point until Harley shot through a crowd of players late on, it was far from a clean strike and bounced and crept in past the unsighted Corston. It was cruel luck for the visitors who worked tirelessly to a man but the hosts are a good side and will again be one of the teams to beat this season.