Kirkley beat Ridgeons champs and Haverhill
Kirkley & Pakefield 2, Leiston 0
Both teams finished with only ten men in Kirkley & Pakefield’s win over Ridgeons Premier Division champions Leiston on Monday.
Zac Clarke was dismissed for the hosts with Danny Cunningham seeing red for the visitors, who have now gone four games without a win since clinching the Ridgeons Premier Division title.
Kirkley & Pakefield 2, Haverhill Rovers 1
The KP Royals secured their second consecutive home win courtesy of a fine performance, in particular in the second half, to come from behind and beat Haverhill Rovers 2-1.
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In a match played in blistering heat, K&P started the match in a positive fashion with Kyle Baker, Wayne Twomlow and Alex Holmes forming a front three in attack. Another notable inclusion was defender Matty Potter donning the gloves for the match, as regular keeper Dave Attridge was unavailable.
Potter was called in to action twice in the early stages to deny Haverhill captain Marcus Hunt from opening the scoring.
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At the other end, Alex Holmes fired an effort over the crossbar before the referee agitated the home faithful as he pulled up Kyle Baker for three separate fouls which hampered the flow of play.
In a match that was swinging from end to end, Stuart Wardley’s free header flew over the crossbar for the away team while Kirkley looked to utilise the pace of Kyle Baker in his wide attacking role as he linked up brilliantly with Scott Manning on many occasions.
With no team creating any guilt edged chances it came as a shock when Haverhill took the lead a minute before the interval as a result of a set-piece. Kirkley failed to clear a dangerous corner in the six yard box allowing skipper Marcus Hunt to get the final touch to take the ball over the line with keeper Potter claiming the ball didn’t cross. Nevertheless, his appeals were in vain as the linesman flagged for a goal and K&P went in 1-0 down at the break.
Judging by the start to the second half, it was clear where the dominance would lie; with Kirkley.
Ian Dawson and Alex Holmes both had shots that went close as the referee again stopped play for petty fouls around the penalty area.
However, moments later and the man in the middle made a crucial call to award Haverhill a penalty against the run of play as Paul Abbott tumbled in the box.
Up stepped defender Stuart Wardley only for stand in keeper Matty Potter to pull off a superb save diving to his right hand side to keep Kirkley in the match. The keeper decided not to position himself in the middle of his goal as the player stepped up, and this may have been psychological as it gave K&P the real confidence boost that they needed.
From then on it was all Kirkley. Jack Newrick teed up Alex Holmes only for his poke past the keeper to be cleared off the line by a despairing defender. Ryan Crisp then emerged from the bench to replace Wayne Twomlow and it only took 5 minutes for the young striker to pounce.
Kyle Baker, who had previously had a shot saved by keeper Matthew Morrison, somehow managed to beat two players on the by-line and showing great strength his cut-back found Crisp who lashed home with his left foot.
The momentum was well and truly with Kirkley as they pushed forward in search of a winner. Kyle Baker did have the ball in the net for the home side, yet the referee ruled the goal out for offside.
The whole team were giving their all led in particular by some inspired performances from Ryan De Coteau, Jack Newrick and Taz Grint.
As the game wore on, K&P had to be aware on a couple of occasions to deny striker Dalton O’Brien from breaking through, but they confidently nullified the threat as they continued to press.
Alex Holmes shot narrowly wide after some more superb play from Kyle Baker as Kirkley made a double switch with Lewis Flower and Toby Kerslake coming into the midfield to replace Jack Newrick and Scott Manning.
It was time for someone to step forward to provide a moment of magic or get a lucky deflection to turn a point into victory.
Holmes again went close with an angled chip and Zak Clarke’s rifled free-kick was tipped over the bar.
At the other end, Ryan De Coteau put his body on the line to make a last-gasp intervention for Kirkley as Stuart Wardley looked to avenge his penalty miss but his header was saved by Matty Potter.
As the clock hit 88 minutes the all-important second goal arrived, and what a goal it was.
Zak Clarke’s sweeping diagonal ball found Alex Holmes and his touch found Ian Dawson who knocked the ball past a defender to smash the ball across the keeper and in off the post for 2-1. The players, management and crowd erupted with joy as Kirkley claimed all three points after a battling display as they aim to end the season on a high.
By Joe Randlesome
K&P Team: Potter, Grint, D. Tacon, Clarke, De Coteau, Dawson, Manning, Newrick, Holmes, Baker, Twomlow.
Subs: Crisp (for Twomlow), Flower (for Newrick), Kerslake (for Manning).
Haverhill Rovers Team: Morrison, P.Abbott, Strong, Wardley, Boreham, Pitcher, M. Abbott, M. Hunt, O’Brien, Harpe, Wiggs.
Subs: A. Hunt, Holmes