Title hopefuls held to draws
RIDGEONS LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION: Dereham Town and Wroxham, who finished fourth and fifth in last season's Premier Division and are expected to lead the Norfolk charge for the title this campaign, both had to settle for a share of the spoils on the opening day, the Magpies more happily than the Yachtsmen.
Dereham Town and Wroxham, who finished fourth and fifth in last season's Premier Division and are expected to lead the Norfolk charge for the title this campaign, both had to settle for a share of the spoils on the opening day, the Magpies more happily than the Yachtsmen.
Kirkley & Pakefield, who finished sixth, kicked off with an emphatic win.
Dereham Town brought home a point from a 1-1 draw at Haverhill Rovers thanks to a second-half equaliser from Danny Beaumont and a fine double save by keeper John Higgs at the end of the match.
Manager Matt Henman said yesterday: “We started looking for a win but at the end we were reasonably happy with the point.
“They (Rovers) have improved from the team they had last season. It is a difficult pitch for us to play football on. We had chances to take the lead which we didn't take.”
Rovers scored on the stroke of half-time but Henman said: “We showed character second half.”
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Dereham had been lacking balance and introduced Craig Terrington and Robbie Harris and they soon drew level in the 61st minute with Beaumont stabbing home Nicky Howell's short cross from the right.
Wroxham boss David Blatch looked at match statistics and rued missed chances.
Hadleigh failed to get in one shot either on or off target in the first half, but equalised with a penalty. Then with the points looking in the bag: “We conceded a sloppy goal right at the death. We had 15 shots on target and only scored two.”
Wroxham started with the nucleus of last season team but ex-Norwich keeper Scott Howie made his debut along with Steve Spriggs and former player Martin McNeil returning.
Wroxham took the lead on 18 minutes through Steve Spriggs who neatly slid the ball under keeper Benstead for a debut goal.
On 28 minutes a push on a Hadleigh forward resulted in a spot kick from which Craig Payne sent Howie the wrong way.
Wroxham looked to have taken the points on 85 minutes when a free-kick from the right curled in to beat everyone apart from McNeil, whole stole in on the blind side to hit the roof of the net.
But Hadleigh equalised with virtually the last kick when a similar free-kick beat the Wroxham defence and Scott Wark's header gave Howie no chance.
Kirkley and Pakefield had a comfortable 4-0 victory over a hastily put together visiting Wivenhoe.
K&P took the lead in the 24th minute through man of the match Chris Henderson, and Nathan Stone and an own goal made it 3-0 at the break.
Visiting keeper Aaron Reid brought off a string of fine second half saves to deny Robert Horton several times.
Midway through the second half Wivenhoe centre back Ryan Amass was sent off and Reid was helpless two minutes from time as Chris Henderson weaved his way into the box and blasted in his second goal of the afternoon.
Norwich United clinched a 3-2 home victory over Felixstowe & Walton with an injury-time penalty from Andrew Claydon.
Felixstowe led after nine minutes through Matthew Stace but the Planters hit back a minute before the break with Tom Youngs heading home Steve Shipley's cross at the far post.
They took the lead three minutes after the break through Ricci Butler but eight minutes from time Adam Hampson equalised.
Wisbech suffered a 3-1 home defeat by Stanway Rovers but Mildenhall Town came from a goal down to win 2-1 at Woodbridge Town.
Woodbridge took the lead just after the break through James Heathcote but a goal apiece from Mildenhall's strike pair John Sands (penalty) and Danny Partridge - whose winner was brilliantly set up by substitute Aaron Turner, a summer signing from Soham Town Rangers. Sands missed a late penalty.
Premier Division: Ely City 0, Needham Market 1; Harwich and Parkeston 1, Newmarket Town 4; Haverhill Rovers 1, Dereham Town 1; Histon Reserves 1, Leiston 6; King's Lynn Reserves 0, Debenham LC 2; Kirkley and Pakefield 4, Wivenhoe Town 0; Norwich United 3, Felixstowe and Walton United 2; Walsham-le-Willows 1, CRC 0; Wisbech Town 1, Stanway Rovers 3; Woodbridge Town 1, Mildenhall Town 2; Wroxham 2, Hadleigh United 2.
Debenham LC v Hadleigh, Dereham v Ely, Felixstowe v Harwich, Mildenhall v Wroxham, Needham Mkt v Stanway, Newmarket v Norwich Utd, Wivenhoe v Haverhill.
CRC v Wisbech, King's Lynn Res v Histon Res, Kirkley & Pakefield v Woodbridge, Leiston v Walsham-le-Willows.
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