Gorleston 3, Haverhill Rovers 2
Stewart Larter made three changes to his first starting line-up since taking sole charge of Gorleston FC.
Ally McKenna returned in place of Christy Finch, Jack Garrod replaced Liam Harvey-Cooper and Steve Taylor returned from injury in place of Gary Williams, Williams and Harvey-Cooper settling for a place on the bench. With Eddie Thompson still injured Kyle Howell continued at centre back alongside Andy Howell.
Captain for the day Andy Howell had the first chance after just 65 seconds with a free header from a corner as the Greens dominated the opening of the game.
But it was Haverhill who took the lead with virtually their first attack of the game in the twelfth minute, when a cross from the right eluded Elliot Pride and his defence and fell onto the head of Alex Clark, who planted it into the net.
Four minutes later Jack Garrod cut in from the left and shot goalwards but his effort was always curling wide and, midway through the half, Pride kept the deficit at one saving a header from a corner.
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Gorleston were having the most of the possession without finding the final ball but, on 31 minutes, they got the equaliser they deserved.
David Hinton found McKenna in the box. McKenna turned and, under pressure, got his shot away into the bottom corner of the goal.
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Both keepers were called into action in the closing minutes of the half. Firstly, Rovers Elliot Anderson brought off a good reflex save from a deflected Hinton effort and then Pride denied Clark from close in after the Greens had lost the ball in midfield.
Haverhill began the second half strongly putting Gorleston under pressure with a series of corners, which eventually earned its reward when they were awarded a penalty after Jack Higgs fell over Ally McKenna’s leg. Marc Abbott made no mistake from the spot to put his side back in front.
Midway through the half Bradley Hough saw a shot go wide before Higgs almost collected a through ball at the other end which would have put him clean through.
Gorleston needed to make a change and manager Stewart Larter did so with twenty minutes left, bringing on Liam Harvey-Cooper in place of George Jermy and going three at the back. Hough was also pushed further forward to play alongside McKenna as the Greens searched for the equaliser.
Seven minutes later the change paid off.
McKenna went down under pressure in the box but managed to get up again, retaining possession, and laid the ball back to Harvey-Cooper on the edge of the area. His first effort was saved by the keeper’s feet but the ball fell nicely back to Harvey-Cooper who thundered it back into the goal.
With eight minutes left Gorleston took the lead.
Chris Sandford hit a volley goalwards which struck the raised arm of Greg Strong just inside the box as he tried to block the effort. Referee Alan Dale was on hand to have no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The Greens record from penalties over recent years hasn’t been the best but Harvey-Cooper stepped up, after a delay which would have affected his concentration, to confidently despatch the ball into the goal.
Rovers applied some immediate pressure and Pride kept his side ahead with a terrific tip over. Some more late corners from Haverhill, which also saw their keeper Anderson venturing into the opposition box, were thwarted by Gorleston defence as the Greens held on for their first win in four games.
• Gorleston: Elliot Pride, Carl Poppy, George Jermy (Liam Harvey-Cooper, 70), David Hinton, Andy Howell, Kyle Howell, Jack Garrod (Keegan Middleton, 80 (Josh Armes, 87), Chris Sandford, Ally McKenna, Steve Taylor, Bradley Hough
Booking: Poppy (55)
Goals: McKenna (31), Harvey-Cooper (pen, 77)
• Haverhill Rovers: Elliot Anderson, Sam Holmes, Greg Strong (Simon Newnes, 90), Ryan Henshaw, Perry Moody, Stuart Kingham, Marc Abbott, Jamie Challis, Callum Harrison, Jack Higgs, Alex Clark (Ryan Weaver, 80)
Bookings: Henshaw (9), Abbott (55), Challis (57), Moody (77)
Goals: Clark (12), Abbott (pen, 50)
• Attendance: 98