Great Yarmouth Town play in the Ridgeons Football League (generic name Eastern Counties League) Premier Division
MANAGER: Paul Tong
ASSISTANT MANAGER: Alan Smith
Paul Tong's final picture call with the squad that played against Clacton, May 1st 2004
BLOATERS 1-1 CLACTON TN
League, Sat. 1st May
The finish to this match, and the season, was the stuff of fiction! In fact, its doubtful that even Enid Blyton would have dared to create such a fairytale ending.
With only seconds on the referee's watch, and Yarmouth staring at another home defeat in Paul Tong's final match in charge, Rob George delivered the perfect ball to Scott Woodcock's feet as the young substitute advanced down the right hand side and into the Clacton box. The first shot was saved by Darren Gould but the ball slipped out of the big Clacton keeper's hands giving Woodcock a second bite. Again Gould blocked the ball but again it ran back to Woodcock who at the third attempt, though by now surrounded by defenders, made no mistake and despatched the ball into the back of the net! There wasn't even time to restart before the final whistle blew.
Scott Woodcock celebrates his first goal in modern fashion - shirt off!
A fairytale first senior goal for the youngster and what a finish for Paul Tong who must have feared that the scoring jinx that had plagued the team all season was even going to spoil his farewell game.
Clacton had gone ahead after an error by Aaron Osborne in the Yarmouth goal: he failed to keep hold of a well-flighted corner kick and Paul Hillier snapped up the loose ball in the 31st minute. In truth, that was Osborne's one bit of mishandling, and on possession Yarmouth won the match hands down.
Gould, too, had a good game and until the final seconds did enough to thwart all Yarmouth's best efforts though he did lose the ball once from a George shot but Yarmouth just could not get hold of the loose ball.
In a youthful side (Howes, Humphreys, Drake, Hunt and Adcock were all missing), UEA striker Lewis Broomfield was so keen to progress that he kept getting caught offside, while the experienced Rob George, possibly playing his last match as his work has taken him to London, lacked the killer finish that had seen him once again established as the team's leading scorer this season: his shot that went wide after 82 minutes from a perceptive Broomfield pass had seemed to sum up Yarmouth's season until that Woodcock late-show.
Tong comment: "It was ironic that one of the youngsters, Scott Woodcock, should net the equaliser in the third minute of injury time. It must have been some sight to see the manager's last emotions when I jumped up and ran over to him: I said to Scott, "Now was it worth me giving you that 'bollocking'?" But the youth ranks are strong and Mark George, Will Lewis and Laurence York, who made his first team debut today, also played with promise.
"The match wasn't a classic but credit to the lads, they were as solid as a rock, but I was disappointed that Rob missed that sitter: I was praying that he would score the equaliser as he has given so much to this club."
Yarmouth have had enormous difficulty attracting spectators this season but for one fan distance was no object. Ian Rich who lives in Stoke on Trent made a morning journey down to the town by train, staying overnight opposite the ground in a Wellesley Road guest house and returning on Sunday. Earlier in the season, he made the longer and more difficult journey, again by train, to watch the Bloaters in action at Littlehampton in the FA Vase match.
THE MATCH BALL WAS KINDLY SPONSORED BY A.B. COMPUTERS OF 137-138 KING STREET, GREAT YARMOUTH
GT YARMOUTH TOWN 0-0 TIPTREE UTD
League, Tues. 27th April
Yarmouth extended their unbeaten run to five games, their longest such sequence of the season but should have done better against a Tiptree side now certain to finish in a relegation place. "We took our foot off the pedal after securing our Premier Division place on Saturday," said manager Paul Tong; "but we had enough chances and even Vinny [Mark Vincent] missed two headers he would normally have buried."
On the whole it was a lack-lustre end-of-season type of game between two sides who, though not short of endeavour, needed some steadiness in front of goal.
Tiptree were of course anxious not to concede any goals as there was still a chance of survival had Dereham lost; in the event, Dereham beat Clacton and put themselves beyond the reach of Tiptree though not Gorleston who have a better goal difference though the Greens would need to win their last two games at Clacton on Thursday and, funnily enough, Tiptree on Saturday while hoping Dereham lose at Histon Reserves.
Yarmouth were guilty of some glaring misses. On a quarter of an hour, Kevin Howes, just two yards off the goal-line, tried to flick at a centre from Lee Humphreys and completely missed his kick. Then Neil Adcock similarly missed what looked a sitter from a Howes ball which ran virtually along the line.
Stuart Jenkinson rode several tackles down the left before unleashing a fine shot which was just too high as it angled over the bar. The impressive Aaron Osborne launched some huge clearances and from one of these Howes back-header almost on the line was picked up by Tiptree keeper Bavester at the last moment.
Bavester was called into action early in the second half with a great save from Adcock who had picked up a half-cleared Swann effort, and later he was forced to dive on a Hunt shot after Adcock crossed. In between substitute Lewis Broomfields first touch was a superb cross in front of the Tiptree goal but no Yarmouth player was near enough to take advantage.
Osborne needed to make two important saves before Bavester was called on again, gathering a shot from second substitute Scott Woodcock whose pace caused the visitors defence some problems.
The Yarmouth defence, led admirably by Mark Vincent as always, was surprisingly under-employed by a team supposedly fighting for its survival and whose attacking shortcomings were best judged by the fact that they won only one corner all night.
The draw was a fair result as both teams worked hard for the point which would see them safe for next season. In the event, other results conspired to help them out. All the teams below them lost, with the result that neither Gorleston nor Tiptree can now gain enough points to top the Bloaters leaving them almost certain to occupy the two relegation spots above already-doomed Fakenham when the programme is completed next Saturday.
With Stuart Hunt unavailable, manager Tong brought back Michael Shade for his first game since injury some few weeks ago.
Early play was scrappy and was mostly in Yarmouth's half until Rob George made ground down the right but Kevin Howes was unable to get to his cross. Osborne, who earlier had been forced to head clear from the edge of his area, produced a brave save from Woodbridge's first corner in the ninth minute. Ex-Ipswich and Colchester favourite Mick Stockwell was showing up well for the home team, while Dwayne Edwards also looked lively in their attack.
Yarmouth's first serious foray into the Woodbridge area, on 15 minutes, saw 'keeper Evans beaten by George wide of goal but the leading scorer was unable to direct his cross in front of goal the ball going instead behind.
The Bloaters won a first corner after 18 minutes but Mark Vincent's back-header from George's kick went past a post.
Considering both sides needed the points badly, play had been uninspiring despite the un-Nottcutts Park-like sunshine and neither keeper was seriously troubled in the opening 25 minutes. Then Osborne was twice called into action, first saving a Stockwell header, then keeping out a Buckle header after a corner.
Yarmouth took a 32nd minute lead in somewhat fortunate circumstances. A Lee Humphreys corner was headed away by Stockwell but only back to Humphreys who returned the ball into the box where Woodbridge captain Mark BAILEY headed past Evans for an own goal.
There was very little exciting action after that until the 53rd minute when Woodbridge equalised through the alert STOCKWELL who met an Edwards cross with a fine header. The game then livened up for the rest of the half with both sides going close on several occasions.
Yarmouth tried to reply immediately to the Woodbridge goal when Terry Swann dinked a through ball to Adcock but Evans just won the chase, then Yarmouth won another corner after 55 minutes when Vincent back-headed across the area for Howes who, however, put his header just over.
On the hour Yarmouth would have gone back in front if Neil Adcock had been quicker to shoot after Howes found him with a decent cross from the right; then two minutes later Howes flicked on another Swann free kick but George's header rebounded to safety off Evans' boot right on the goalline. On 65 minutes, Buckle, for Woodbridge, similarly missed a good opportunity with a close range flicked header from Westren's cross.
The home team had a spell of pressure play but Shade showed all his experience in taking the ball off Edwards who looked goal-bound. Yarmouth made their first change, with Scott Woodcock replacing Adcock but it was Howes who had Yarmouth's next two efforts. Then a well-placed George free kick bounced awkwardly for Evans but fortunately for the keeper also bounced over the bar.
In the 90th minute, Yarmouth made a second change with Scott Woodcock replacing George but Woodbridge then had their best chance of a second goal but substitute McGlone, after receiving a Stockwell free kick, blasted a shot against a Yarmouth post and both teams had to settle for a point apiece, not a bad result for Yarmouth who had been beaten at home 3-1 by Woodbridge two weeks earlier.
The match appeared to be heading for a goalless draw until a disputed penalty led to a goal by Glen Snell. Just before the hour, Aaron Osborne was fouled as a cross came in and showed his displeasure by pushing the Bury player. The officials either missed the original foul or chose to ignore it as a penalty was awarded Bury. Osborne redeemed himself by pulling off a marvellous save down by his left hand post only for Snell to seize on the loose ball.
Yarmouth's regular failings in front of goal looked to have condemned them to another home defeat until Howes, in time added on after the 90 minutes were up, took matters into his own hands. Receiving the ball some 25 yards out he pirouetted on the spot and struck home a sweet shot to earn the Bloaters a much-needed point. However, with Woodbridge winning again, it was back to 17th place for Yarmouth though with games running out it will be the clubs below them that will be the more anxious about the final outcomes.
Most spectators at this match would agree with Secretary Brian 'Smudger' Smith's comment when he said after this game that he had never seen such a one-sided 1-0 win! Manager Paul Tong was also moved to comment that had it been a boxing match the refreee would have halted it at half-time.
Yarmouth missed chance after chance, including three efforts that hit the goal frame, and had to settle for just one goal scored right on half time by veteran defender Mark Vincent.
Halstead started well but flattered to deceive and Aaron Osborne brought off a couple of fine saves. After 25 minutes of pressure from their high-flying Essex visitors Yarmouth began to put their game together.The Bloaters won three corners in quick succession before Stuart Jenkinson provided the best opening so far with a pass to Vincent up with the attack: the veteran of 669 games shot strongly for goal from ten yards but Dave Walton just got a finger to it to concede another corner.
Neil Adcock, two-goal hero of the derby match on Easter Monday, proved right out of luck this match and had five good chances before Vincent came up for a Rob George corner in time added on: the flag kick was flicked on by Kevin Howes at the near post for Vincent to nod home under the diving Walton for his 74th first team goaL.
The second half started with a fine George shot that rebounded off the bar as the parade of misses continued. A by now rare Halstead attack saw a dangerous pass across the area headed away by Tony Spearing before normal service was resumed. Adcock was guilty of further spurned opportunities, then his striking partner Howes joined in with a delayed then mishit effort from a fine Adcock run and centre.
Terry Swann was playing his heart out in midfield and both he and John Fish contributed some excellent free kicks over the Halstead defence that should have seen the visitors dead and buried. But the game was still in the balance and Glenn Revell forced his way into the Yarmouth area but determined defence by Spearing and Nathan Drake snuffed out any danger. Behind them, Aaron Osborne in goal did not put a foot wrong all afternoon.
Yarmouth again shook the framework, this time with a 30 yard shot from Stuart Jenkinson, and although Halstead exerted some late pressure Yarmouth fully deserved the three points which lifted them above Woodbridge and into 16th place.
Tong hailed an "outstanding performance". He said: "The whole team worked as a unit to record a vital win. It shows their determination to succeed that they wouldnt let "Tongy the Tinkerman" tinker with the team after the good win at Gorleston, and even the experienced Lee Humphreys had to sit on the bench for this one!"
There was no doubt that on the day Yarmouth thoroughly deserved their first victory over Gorleston in 14 meetings. The Bloaters worked hard throughout the side and seemed more 'up for it' than the Greens. The attendance was surprisingly low for a derby game and is perhaps indicative of the apathy prevalent in the two towns at the moment with regards to senior football.
The Greens started well and for the first 25 minutes appeared likely winners. But Yarmouth attacks became more frequent and they had two lively front runners in Neil Adcock and Kevin Howes. It was Howes who put the Bloaters ahead after 34 minutes when the Gorleston defence appealed for offside and Howes went on to push the ball past Paul Finch from close range.
Yarmouth then made an ideal start to the second period when they took a two-goal lead when Adcock scored after a scramble in the Gorleston box. Gorleston were not playing with much conviction but they reduced the arrears when Rob Newman headed in from a cross.
Adcock made the game virtually safe when he blasted in a shot from close range, and although the Greens again reduced the arrears when Dale Cockrill converted a corner kick, it proved too little too late as Yarmouth held on for a deserved victory: on the day they were more direct than Gorleston.
Mark Vincent was outstanding for the Bloaters in the centre of defence, and is a truly wonderful clubman, having served them for many years - a great example to all young players. [MH]
With both teams desperate for points to move away from the relegation area, it was Woodbridge who continued their recent run of form to claim all three, with all the goal action in the first half. This was the visitors fifth win on the trot and they went one place above the Bloaters as a result.
"We were never really at the races after starting well," said manager Paul Tong.
The good start soon evaporated as Woodbridge moved ahead on nine minutes when Jamie Barker scored from ex-Ipswich favourite Mick Stockwell's pass following a needlessly conceded free kick. It soon got worse for the home fans as Dwayne Edwards made it 2-0 after 14 minutes. Robert George pulled a goal back with his 20th strike of the season from Terry Swann's pass, but Woodbridge restored their two-goal advantage after half an hour when Edwards notched a second.
"After they scored their first, we mentally switched off," said Tong, " and slack marking has cost us dear again. We changed things at half time and we huffed and puffed but all credit to Woodbridge, they fully deserved it."
Colwyn Rowe, Woodbridge manager, said that though his side had kept things tight at the back in their good run of late, a sequence of results that has included wins at Clacton, Stowmarket and Halstead, they found Yarmouth gave them a few problems, but this was small consolation to Tong who concluded: "it was all very disappointing after the two good games against Sudbury and Wisbech."
It is two months since Yarmouth won a home game and the early signs in this match were promising. Yarmouth set about the Fenmen with a vigour and enthusiasm that just oozed goals, but unfortunately defensive frailties also meant they leaked them as well.
The exciting action continued throughout the first half when all the goals were scored and though chances continued to be created in the second, neither side could force a breakthrough and both teams had to settle for a point apiece, as they did at Fenland Park three weeks ago.
With Yarmouth playing the ball early into the Wisbech box, the visitors were hard-pressed in defence and the Bloaters duly went ahead after 18 minutes. Jake Berry, tormentor-in-chief of Wisbech, saw a shot pushed away by keeper Ian Pledger only for Stuart HUNT to follow up and ram the ball home from ten yards, his first goal of the season and only his fourth in all.
Wisbech had a goal disallowed for offside in the 25th minute but drew level two minutes later when Richard HARNWELL netted after a corner that ought to have been cleared.
Berry continud to create havoc and made a wonderful opportunity that was spurned before Lewis Broomfield scored on his home debut. A Lee Humphreys corner was headed back and onto the bar by Mark Vincent and UEA youngster BROOMFIELD was the first to react, heading home with delight in the 33rd minute.
As before, Yarmouth were unable to hold onto the lead for more than a few minutes and in the 36th minute a Pledger booming clearance was seized on by former Mansfield player Jason SEDLAN before the home defence could react and his shot from outside the area beat Osborne all ends up.
Broomfield rather blotted his copybook by missing what looked a simple chance in the 40th minute, snatching at the ball with Pledger stranded and hitting one of two defenders on the line when it looked easier to score. Then a clearance from a defender on the line rebounded off Berry only to be cleared again.
Substitute Robert George, back after missing two games through injury, had the best chance of the second half but from only a couple of yards his shot went straight into Pledgers midrift.
The Bloaters put up a brave show against the reigning and prospective champions and only conceded one goal from open play. The home team were frustrated by a dogged defensive display but were also victims of their own failings in front of goal - a strange thing when you consider they had scored 91 goals in their previous 30 league games!
Yarmouth were hardly ever in with a chance of scoring though they might have done so in the very first minute when Stuart Jenkinson chipped over an empty net. That was a rare chance as Sudbury dominated play from then on with some immaculate passing which was, however, spoilt by some indifferent finishing, Sam Banya being particularly wasteful - or unlucky depending on your point of view!
Sudbury went ahead after 15 minutes of probing when a Dean Francis corner was played back in by Paul Betson and captain Chris Tracey headed in.
The Bloaters then held out until a quarter of an hour from the end when Andrew Claydon burst into the area and passed to Terry Rayner who helped it on to Lee Owen who had time to side-foot home past the returning Aaron Osborne who really had little to do but did it well.
Paul Tong said he was proud of the lads. "It was an excellent performance against such a side. I asked for commitment and got it. They never let Sudbury settle on the ball and, really, both goals could have been avoided. Mark George was outstanding again, and the UEA boys at numbers 8, 9 and 10 did well again especially Lewis Broomfield - in only his second game he led the line well."
Tony Spearing, though named on the bench, was unfortunately forced to sit the match out with an injury but he received a warm welcome from his former colleagues. Robert George was also missing through injury.
Great Yarmouth suffered their worst defeat of the season at the Rush Green Bowl on Tuesday night, fielding a much-changed side. "Missing five players from Saturday was always going to be a tough call," said manager Paul Tong.
Injuries and unavailability meant he had to do without Cooper, Spearing, Swann, Humphreys and Thompson from the side that won at Tiptree, and Tong was forced into introducing another new signing from the UEA, Lewis Broomfield, plus giving a first appearance of the season to Will Lewis from the reserves.
"I must thank all the lads who made the long midweek trip to Clacton. It reflects great credit on them all that they were prepared to go the distance, especially the youngsters who have joined us recently."
On a bitterly cold night, Yarmouth fell behind after a quarter of an hour when a partially cleared corner was whipped back in by Clacton captain Paul Hillier and entered the net via Elliot Pride's legs. Pride had been forced to play although not fully fit and this may have hampered his ability to get down quickly enough.
Although Yarmouth competed well, and had a good half-hour spell in the first half and again for a while after the break, they didn't really trouble Darren Gould overmuch, though he did have to be quick off his line to deny Stuart Jenkinson who showed he was prepared to take the big keeper on.
"We had a glorious chance to equalise just before their second goal," said Tong, "but Gould made a save from Rob George and though he fumbled it he got away with it. Had it gone in, it would have been a different game, but their second goal coming soon afterwards killed us."
The second and third Clacton goals were really comedy-of-errors material: in the 76th minute, Pride managed to push away a corner but Simon Head slammed the ball into the net through a ruck of players, then four minutes later Will Lewis and John Fish both missed opportunities to clear presenting Keith Hetherington with an opening he accepted with delight.
"Clacton deserved to win but not by three goals," concluded Tong; "they were better on the ball and took their chances, even if we did present them with two of them.
"Positives from the game were the bright performance of young Mark George who came in for Spearing, an outstanding game in midfield from Stuart Hunt, some nice touches from Stuart Jenkinson and a battling debut up front from Lewis Broomfield who came on for the injured Kevin Howes in the second half, but Man of the Match for me was Mark Vincent who led by example!"
Yarmouth welcomed Sean Cooper back from his New Zealand travels with Elliott Pride injured; unsung defensive hero Nathan Drake made his 100th appearance for the Bloaters.
Yarmouth kicked off but Cooper was the first keeper called into action, stopping a Scot Witney free kick before Yarmouth, in the fifth minute, won the first of a series of corners when Lee Humphreys kick, aimed low at the near post, somehow evaded everybody before being hacked away by a defender.
Yarmouth began to get on top and took the lead from their four corner of the match. When Humphreys' kick came over, Terry Swann helped it into the Tiptree box where it glanced off a defender's head and fell kindly for Howes to nod home.
With the midfield trio of Humphreys, Swann and Stuart Hunt were getting through a prodigious amount of work Yarmouth dominated the half, and with Mario Davids making ground down the left and Robert George revelling in his striker's role on the right, Yarmouth frequently threatened the home rearguard. Howes hooked over from a Humphreys pass, then Davids was next to see a header go just over.
Witney hit the top of the bar with a delicate lob after 25 minutes but that was the nearest Tiptree came to a goal in the first half.
John Fish's long throws were also making life difficult for the home defence and from one such, Swann's back-header presented Mark Vincent, in his 662nd game, with a chance which, however, the veteran put wide. Another throw soon after this saw Howes back head the ball towards goal where home keeper Michael Bavester clutched the ball off Vincent's head.
Tiptree came back with a John Watson long shot which just cleared the bar but the Bloaters remained in control and Humphreys, not for the first time, picked out Davids on the right but his pass inside to Howes was just cut out by a defender. The home side won their first corner of the match in time added on but Howes headed away.
Swann did not appear after half time thanks to a knock and Paul Thompson came on; he took George's place on the right of the attack with George dropping back into his familiar midfield role in place of Swann.
Yarmouth resumed on the attack, winning a couple of early corners and when Hunt eventually got in a shot from the second. Bavester just clawed the ball back from the line at the second attempt. Then Craig Newman blocked a Davids effort at the last moment.
However, Yarmouth's first-half exertions must have taken it out of them as, after some substitutions, Tiptree began to make inroads into the Yarmouth defence for the first time and the Jammakers almost scored when from a Witney free kick Alex Snow headed across goal with the ball striking the foot of a post and rolling along the line only to end in the grateful arms of Cooper. Two minutes later the now-hard pressed Yarmouth defence conceded a free kick in an identical position: this time Witney, a scourge of the Yarmouth defence in his Maldon days, went for broke but his effort went well over.
Just after the hour mark, Yarmouth made two quick substitutions, bringing on Neil Adcock for Davids and Mark George for Tony Spearing; Adcock became a constant danger to the Tiptree left and on 77 minutes Bavester produced an excellent save to deny him at the expense of a corner: Thompson's part in the build-up should also be acknowledged. Indeed, as Tiptree became increasingly desperate to get something out of the game, Thompson found more and more space on the right. Adcock then featured with Bavester in a chase for the ball with the keeper just winning it.
Thompson sent a fine ball across to Hunt but with the midfielder off balance the centre was weak. Drake was having his usual efficient game and quietly getting on with things; on 80 minutes he won another fine tackle and set up Thompson but the move petered out when George lost possession.
Then on 84 minutes, Yarmouth made the game safe. Humphreys sent an accurate and well-flighted pass into the path of Howes who finished with an emphatic shot from ten yards into the roof of the net. The former Lowestoft Reserve has been under-rated in some quarters but four goals in the last three games have only added to his reputation as a target-man up front as well as taking him into second-highest scorer spot for the season.
There was still some excitement to come as Bavester denied Thompson with a flying save, then after a corner Witney completely missed his kick on front of goal with substitute Aaron Freeman, following up behind, firing wide in the final seconds.
If there was any justice in football, Yarmouth would have won this game hands down. But games are won on goals scored and on that count Norwich United were worthy winners, even if they did need the help of the officials and a generous Yarmouth defence.
Elliott Pride gifted United the lead after only ten minutes when he raced from goal to clear but completely missed his kick and danger man Jamie Hunton had the simplest task of steering the ball into the unguarded net, though there was a suspicion of an earlier offside in the minds of Yarmouth players and supporters. The young Yarmouth 'keeper later produced some tremendous saves to make up for that gaffe.
Yarmouth worked their way back into the game with some inventive play but had to wait until the last minute of the half to gain some reward. From a corner, the ball was hacked off the line but Kevin Howes was on the spot to notch his second goal in two games. Howes had three more efforts kicked of the United line during the match, a unique statistic according to the striker himself, and he was the unluckiest player on the pitch with a couple more efforts well saved by Robert Woodcock in the United goal.
Pongo Thompson was also unfortunate to see his excellent lob from wide on the right cancelled out for an offside decision.
Despite their intelligent midfield play, prompted by UEA men John Fish and Stuart Jenkinson, Yarmouth paid the price of poor finishing and suicidal defending when United regained the lead through Greg Murphy on the hour, but moments later no-one knows how a Yarmouth corner was prevented from crossing the line in a crowded Norwich goalmouth.
Six bookings in the match - three for each side - did not reflect an unpleasant atmosphere though the game was fiercely contested between these local rivals. Former Bloater Dale Cooper was strong in the United defence and Gavin Morais was lively on the visitors right wing until withdrawn at half time.
But the main talking points after the game were the performances of the officials, in particular a decision to call Robert George back for an offside when he was clearly intent on following the ball through himself having received a fortunate ricochet off a defender.
"We couldn't have done more," lamented manager Paul Tong, "but every mistake we made was punished. The officials' performances had a huge bearing on the match tonight and even United chairman John Hilditch agreed their first goal was offside."
Opinion was divided in the Yarmouth camp as to whether a draw was a fair result or whether Yarmouth just shaded the match. However, there was only one real winner - the wind. Starting out as a very strong southerly airstream, it developed into a gale by half time, then changed to a westerly direction. So in the first half Newmarket had the elements directly behind them, but although they tried a few long shots nothing disturbed Elliott Pride's equilibrium in the home goal, and the youngster pulled off some smart saves most notably from a 40 yard effort that he tipped round a post. Yarmouth struggled to make headway against the gale but were at their best when they played the ball on the ground.
The UEA trio of John Fish, Terry Swann and Stuart Jenkinson formed a new formation thought up by manager Paul Tong and the latter had a particularly fine game in the centre of midfield with his university colleagues on either side.
The second half opened explosively as Rob George tried his luck from all of 30 yards which dipped just over the bar but seconds later Newmarket took the lead when Reed was given too much time and space in the area and struck with a right foot shot as a cross came in.
George, who before the game had been presented with his tankard to mark 200 appearances, was seeing plenty of the ball and won several corners, then had bad luck as a clever back-header landed in Newmarket keeper Benstead's arms. A scramble in the Newmarket box failed to bring any reward to Yarmouth, then the Bloaters survived a scare when Humphreys headed off his own line
The equalising goal came after a scramble in the Yarmouth box. The ball was played up the other end and a delicate touch from Kevin Howes laid the ball off to George whose shot came back of a post for the still-lurking Howes to stroke the ball home with his left foot in the 75th minute.
The last quarter of an hour saw chances at both ends; for Yarmouth a Spearing free kick glanced off Howes head when a more definite contact must surely have brought a goal, and Olive was guilty of possibly the miss of the match when he stroked the ball wide after a pass through the middle opened up the Yarmouth defence.
This was a terribly disappointing match to mark the return to the Wellesley of the first team after a month's absence. Soham were always superior and showed why they have been riding high in the Premier Division all season.
Three of the new UEA players made their home debuts, Stuart Jenkinson and Terry Swann who both played at Wisbech, and UEA captain John Fish who was unavailable for that trip. Lee Humphreys returned to the starting line-up while Kevin Howes returned from suspension to take a place on the substitutes bench.
Soham used the ball well so it was a pity that Yarmouth gave it away to them so often. However, it was a Yarmouth player that scored first, but unfortunately Tony Spearing, while trying to clear, put through his own net to give Soham an 11th minute lead. It was a rare mistake from the former professional and he made up for it later with a goal-line clearance, but it was a pity his first goal in Yarmouth colours should benefit the opposition.
The first half was one best forgotten by any amber and black supporter, though Soham's followers were none too happy about their team's showing either. "Pongo" Thompson and Chris Lenton were both booked after a tussle on the edge of the visitors area just before the welcome break.
Kevin Howes replaced Stuart Hunt for the second period and Yarmouth did start to play a bit more positively. Howes immediately took possession of an accurate pass from Nathan Drake in the Soham area but was unable to keep the ball in play. Soham substitute Kevin Pritchard had several good attempts for the Rangers and Yarmouth were kept on the backfoot for much of the half.
Neil Adcock came on for Thompson and straightaway looked certain to score but the ball was deflected away for a corner. Robert George was forced into a goal-line clearance after a free kick but Soham gained a deserved second goal on 70 minutes when Neil Docking stabbed home a right wing cross from ten yards.
New man John Fish came on for the last quarter of an hour as Michael Shade retired injured, and Yarmouth at last came to life. A George cross was sharply headed away for a corner before the Yarmouth number 8 scored a consolation goal for the Bloaters with a minute left, hitting home through a ruck of players as he latched on to a half-cleared corner.
"They annihilated us in the first half," said manager Paul Tong: " we came back after the break though once more we didn't take our chances. The new boys acquitted themselves well again though they are still getting used to the faster pace."
Three of the quartet of UEA signings: (l to r) Stuart Jenkinson, Terry Swann and John Fish
WISBECH TN 1-1 BLOATERS
League, Sat. 13th March
Manager Paul Tong included three new signings in an attempt to "freshen things up", as he put it, following the "lack-lustre" performance against Lowestoft in midweek. The new men - Terry Swan, Stuart Jenkinson and Jacob Berry - are all students at the UEA and play for the university side which reached the Norfolk Junior Cup final last week. Jenkinson, in addition, has also played for Stowmarket Town this season, while Berry is also on the books of Hemel Hempstead Town. A fourth student - John Fish - has also signed.
Berry's debut was cut short minutes after the start when he pulled a hamstring, to be replaced by Neil Adcock who went on to have a lively game and earned the penalty from which Pongo Thompson equalised Wisbech's early goal. But even in that short time, Berry had showed enough to indicate that he will be a useful acquisition with some tigerish tackling and one mazy run.
Wisbech scored after eleven minutes when a stray pass gave the home side a corner which was only partially cleared and when the ball came back Paul Hill headed home. With the sun and a stiff breeze behind them, the Fenmen dominated the early stages but without leading scorer Andy Furnell lacked the finishing power to seriously trouble Elliott Pride.
On the quarter-hour Adcock chased a Rob George clearance on the right hand side only to be brought down by Scott Johnson who was promptly booked. George took the free kick and the fiercely struck ball flew past the far post. The Yarmouth fightback continued when Thompson reacted first to an Adcock pass and sprinted to the byeline: the ball was hacked off the line for a throw from which Swan shot wide. On 26 minutes, an Adcock shot was cleared off the line but the equaliser came three minutes later, again Adcock being the danger man. Goalscorer Hill turned villain as he misplaced his backpass, and as Adcock chased it into the area he was felled by Chris Dear who became the second booking of the day. Thompson strode up to hit the spot kick straight down the middle with such ferocity that Ian Pledger in goal hardly had time to react.
Yarmouth now had their tails up and Andy Chatters only stopped Swan with a "kung-fu" style kick though the referee saw nothing wrong. George and Adcock were linking well on the right and another astute pass gave Adcock a chance but his angled shot was just too high. Right on the interval Darren Jimson hit a Yarmouth post after uncharacteristic dalliance by Drake on the byeline. Then in added time, Drake redeemed himself by heading off the line from a corner awarded after a great save by Pride.
The second half was dominated by Yarmouth with Adcock taking up some good positions though usually he was muscled off the ball at vital moments. Richard Harnwell became Wisbech's third booking after 50 minutes and from the free kick Pledger was forced to punch the ball as it appeared to be heading for the far side of the net.
Perhaps remembering his lobbed goal at Crown Meadow earlier in the week, Thompson tried a similar effort after 57 minutes but this time the ball dipped just over the bar.
Pledger then blocked a piledriver from Swan and Adcock's follow-up shot was diverted for a corner which Swan hit over. Adcock won another corner moments later which Pledger finger-tipped over for a further corner. Two more Yarmouth corners followed before Wisbech finally broke from the stranglehold to win one of their own after Pride dived to save but Mark Vincent, who was having a stirling game in defence, headed clear.
With ten minutes left, Vincent thought he'd scored the winner: Dave Cobb fouled George to the right of the Wisbech area, George took the kick himself and when Adcock headed it back across goal Thompson's header was diverted round the post in the nick of time for yet another Yarmouth corner. A second followed from which Vincent headed home but his celebrations were cut short when the referee awarded a free kick against him for pushing.
Cobb and George became too closely involved and George was booked in the 86th minute after a series of incidents.
With three minutes remaining on the clock, Wisbech claims for a penalty when Darren Jimson went down were refused, and when Michael Shade gave away a free kick on the edge of the Yarmouth area, Pride was called on one last time, making a last-ditch save at the expense of a final corner.
"The boys showed a lot of character after that early goal," said Paul Tong: "had we taken any of the numerous chances we created in the second half we'd have deservedly gained all three points. The new players who came in had an immediate effect and I hope this will continue."
Yarmouth can have no complaints about this result. Practically their one shot on goal provided a spectacular strike for "Pongo" Thompson on his first return to Crown Meadow since his transfer to Yarmouth last summer but that was all there was to cheer Bloaters supporters in a meagre derby crowd of 126 on a very cold night.
A lack-lustre first half from both teams looked to be heading for a goal-less outcome when two goals in the last six minutes turned the match the Blues' way. Thompson and another former Blue Micky Shade had both missed reasonable opportunities for Yarmouth before Ross King got the first of his double in the 39th minute, heading home Jamie Godbold's cross.
In first half injury time, King made it 2-0 when he rolled home a cross past a static Elliott Pride. The young keeper had produced some good performances prior to this match, but was at fault on this occasion.
The second half was only four minutes old when Thompson surprised Andrew Reynolds, Lowestoft's third choice keeper, with an ambitious lob from some 35 yards which dropped behind him and into the centre of the goal. This proved the spur which kick-started this derby into life and both teams upped the action.
Lowestoft restored their two-goal advantage ten minutes later with a superb volley on the turn from substitute Glen Fletcher to take a 3-1 lead, and the Blues dominated the last half-hour to deservedly take the points and recover some self-respect after their 6-1 mauling by Sudbury three days earlier.
Pride redeemed himself with a super save, then did sufficient to put off Fletcher when the player looked certain to score from six yards. But Lowestoft always looked the more likely to score again.
Youngster Mark George started a match for the first time but was withdrawn at half time with a groin strain.
Yarmouth - Pride, Drake, Spearing, Vincent, Shade, Hunt (Davids 68), M George (Burtenshaw 46), R George, Thompson, Adcock (Woodcock 68), Humphreys.
A late winner from Robert George, making his 200th appearance, gave the Bloaters a second long-awaited away win and three vital points. Earlier Mark Vincent had given Yarmouth a first half lead with Robbie Harris equalising early in the second half. George has now scored in each of the last five games.
Yarmouth were at full strength with Mario Davids continuing to take the place of the departed Gary Gilmore. Lynn fielded a young sided strengthened by the inclusion of Robbie Harris and Liam Foreshaw, both with first team experience though the latter was only on the bench.
On a pitch showing very little grass on the stand side where tractor tread marks were very much in evidence, Yarmouth had a first chance but Stuart Hunt screwed his shot wide after a throw-in from Tony Spearing, the ex-Lynn manager. The young Linnets then took the game to Yarmouth with some methodical build-ups. Simon Bush shot wide, then Rob George conceded four consecutive corners as Lynn kept up the pressure. James McManus had a couple of chances but first shot wide from 30 yards then saw his header cleared by Vincent, then Jack Redhead also shot wide.
However it was the Bloaters that drew first blood after 16 minutes, against the run of play. A Paul Thompson forward ball was put out for a corner and when Lee Humphreys' kick came over, there was the Yarmouth veteran Vincent to head in a trademark goal.
Hunt was booked for a foul on Harris as Lynn continued their dominance but they failed to trouble Elliott Pride in goal. George became the second Yarmouth booking for attempting to kick a Lynn defender. Redhead ran into a good position but wanted to much time on the ball and was tackled out. Davids fouled McManus who took the kick himself; a subsequent header rebounded off the top of the bar and was put out for a corner from which McManus blasted over the top.
In a Yarmouth break, Thompson chased a Humphreys through ball but Simon Nobes raced out to clear; from the resulting throw, a Thompson shot swung wide. Three minutes from the break, Kevin Howes was booked for persistent misconduct and thereafter he calmed down and played a model game, at least from the referee's point of view.
Lynn's woes continued straight after the break with Harris firing across goal, then a fortunate rebound gave McManus another chance but his shot was way over from only six yards. Nathan Drake then saved the day as Lynn broke quickly after a Yarmouth corner: the defender conceded a throw with his defence outnumbered.
Mark George replaced the injured Davids on 53 minutes and the substitute was immediately involved with a good cross from the left but a defender beat Howes to it and cleared. Spearing conceded a corner but Pride made a confident catch. Yarmouth won a rare free kick in the centre circle and Humphreys' long free kick found the head of Howes but his glancing header was just wide. McManus, who was having a wretched afternoon in front of goal, missed again after a free kick from just outside the 'D' rebounded to him but Lynn finally got the goal their pressure deserved in the 58th minute, Harris shooting home from ten yards past Pride's dive.
Hunt then hit a post for Yarmouth and the final 25 minutes saw some exciting play from both sides. Pride made the save of the match in the 67th minute, advancing to palm the ball away from the feet of McManus on the edge of the area. Neil Adcock came on for Thompson and was involved in several useful attempts for the Bloaters: he raced in to win a corner in the 75th minute, then beat Nobes to the ball in the area but was adjudged to have fouled a defender.
Pride again saved Yarmouth, this time with his feet, at the expense of a corner, then Adcock chased a ball from Howes but Nobes nicked it off his toes at the last second. Lynn were now putting everyone forward in a last-ditch attempt to win the game and Michael Shade headed away a corner with eight Linnets in the area. Another home attack saw the ball speed along the Yarmouth goal line with neither defenders nor attackers able to get a touch.
Howes tried an ambitious shot from 30 yards but Nobes was able to safely watch it pass over his bar.
Then with four minutes to go, Yarmouth found a winner. A poor clearance from Nobes fell at the feet of Howes whose short pass set George free on the right: a couple of strides took George into the area and his right-footed shot across Nobes went in at the far post. The double-centurion's celebration dive/slide in front of the stand left him mud-caked!
"It was a bit of a mugging really," said manager Paul Tong; "they outplayed us, but we battled and never gave up. Elliott Pride was outstanding, with a mature performance beyond his tender years."
Mrs George was ecstatic: "Robert always scores when he goes up front!" she commented.
An exciting Ridgeons League derby ended all-square after a host of missed chances at both ends and "goals" disallowed for offside.
The Bloaters got off to a great start with two goals in the first five minutes. Kevin Howes hit the first and Robert George made it two with a splendid shot past Lemmon. Wroxham reduced the arrears in the 20th minute when ex-Norwich City Academy player David Tyrie met a Fox cross to beat Elliott Pride from three yards.
In the second period, Yarmouth tried to preserve their lead but failed to keep out a tremendous effort from Damien Hilton who drove the ball into the roof of the net from some 28 yards. [GYM]
Maldon got off to a great start when Noble headed in Hutley's cross in the opening two minutes. Maldon applied the pressure and could have been further ahead but for Rayner mishitting his shot.
Yarmouth came more into the picture but found the visiting defence a tough nut to crack. When they did get through, Maldon keeper Catley was on hand to turn round Mark Vincent's shot. Yarmouth keeper Elliott Pride brought off a good save from Parker's header following Rayner's well-placed free kick. Two minutes before the interval from a corner on the left, Paul Thompson missed a great chance to equalise.
Maldon increased their lead on the hour when Coe headed in from Rayner's corner. But play evened out and Yarmouth pulled a goal back in the 73rd minute through Robert George as Maldon appeared to slacken off. In the remaining minutes, Maldon had enough chances to wrap up this game but instead hung on to their slender lead. [GYM]
Youth team keeper Elliott Pride made his first team debut in this comprehensive win over the highly placed Dr Martens reserve side: Aaron Osborne missed the game with a foot injury sustained in last weeks Senior Cup defeat at Diss. Kevin Howes returned from suspension to score a good third goal, while Chris Parker performed well in his 50th first team appearance.
A somewhat dull first half was enlivened by a spectacular strike from a free kick by Robert George for the opening goal after 37 minutes. But Histon were level two minutes later when Liam Kennett struck home a 20 yard shot across Pride.
After an early wintery shower, a strong sun and wind greeted the teams with Yarmouth electing to kick into the elements. Paul Thompson turned and shot just past a post after five minutes, and it was some time before Histon got a real attack going, Craig Andrews heading Gareth Jones' cross into the side netting on eleven minutes.
The first corner was awarded to Yarmouth after 23 minutes of midfield stalemate but George's kick caused the visiting defence no problems. Pride was playing with great confidence and made his first save after a good Histon build-up, then made another good stop after 28 minutes, diving on another Craig Andrews effort.
Thompson looked to have been hauled down in the Histon area in the 35th minute but the referee thought otherwise and instead of a penalty awarded a free kick to Histon.
However Yarmouth took the lead two minutes later. Gilmore was fouled on the edge of the area and as Spearing ran over the ball, George lashed a fierce free kick past Lee Hulyer who was left rooted to the spot. Then with Thompson and Gilmore steaming into the area, George completely miskicked his intended centre, and Histon quickly equalised through Kennett whose snap shot from just outside the area was too good for Pride.
The second half belonged almost entirely to the Bloaters who soon restored their lead: a corner was won by Gilmore after a superb tackle which allowed him to run at the Histon defence. Veteran defender Mark Vincent went up for the 50th minute corner and scored with a trademark header at the far post. The visitors claimed the ball had not crossed the line and Hulyer was booked for his protests whilst manager Nacer Relizani was dismissed from the technical area.
Gilmore was proving too hot to handle and won another corner three minutes later, and as Yarmouth kept the pressure on Thompson blazed Vincent's cross over the bar from six yards. The Bloaters deservedly went 3-1 ahead on the hour with a goal that was brilliant in its construction and its execution: George won the ball in his own half, took it up the right wing and laid a superb pass into the path of Howes who shot first time past a diving Hulyer from the edge of the box. Howes could have scored a second eight minutes later but hit his shot on the turn over the bar after Gilmore had made progress down the left and Thompson had helped it on in to the area.
Histon's Scott Andrews was cautioned for a foul after 70 minutes and Yarmouth's Howes also went into the referees book three minutes later for something he said but these incidents were not typical of a very sporting encounter.
A rare Histon attack saw Sean Audley head wide as Pride came for the ball.
Gilmore looked certain to score when he latched on to substitute Davids' pass but Hulyer saved the day for Histon, though the Bloaters star had the last laugh when he made it 4-1 with five minute left: Humphreys, who had a superb game in midfield, produced a peach of a pass for Gilmore to collect and shoot past Hulyer.
To say the conditions were a great leveller would be to do Yarmouth a great injustice after their excellent performance eight days previously on a then-near perfect Brewers Green Lane pitch.
This time, both teams found control and passing difficult on a boggy surface with a strong wind blowing down the pitch, though it must be said the Diss ground staff did miracles to get the game on at all with it surviving morning rain and an inspection following the spell of snow and frost in midweek.
The football suffered as a consequence and the flowing game of the previous Friday was understandably absent. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining game and there was some good-natured banter from the crowd though some of referee Cann's decisions puzzled both camps.
Yarmouth were forced into two changes: Chris Parker was unavailable through work, Jodie Harrison substituting, and Mario Davids replaced Stuart Hunt who was delayed by an incident with a digger!
The only goal, after 69 minutes, resulted from the one unfortunate slip by keeper Aaron Osborne: having stopped a strong cross from Andy Key, he was unable to hang onto the ball and Danny White popped the ball back into the goalmouth where Stuart Jopling nodded home from a yard out despite the presence of Yarmouth defenders around him.
Otherwise Osborne had a superb game, as did the rest of the defence including Harrison who was making his first senior appearance since 15th November. Despite the loss of Gary Gilmore after two yellow cards in the space of six first half minutes, Yarmouth, tackling like tigers, looked as if they might gain the replay as Diss were prevented from playing their usual game until their superior fitness began to show in the final twenty minutes.
The diminutive Davids found himself the subject of several strong challenges and physio Terry Reeves was kept busy. Mr Cann did not resort to his notebook until Gilmore's first 27th minute challenge to which he took exception, and quite rightly so it must be said. The second foul was equally cautionable and equally unnecessary and the Yarmouth winger had to go. Nevertheless, Yarmouth were left wondering why several tackles by Diss players, of equal merit, resulted in no more than lectures from the referee.
Chances for both teams were few in a somewhat scrappy first half. Davids shot weakly at Nathan Pauling after 16 minutes and a minute later Nathan Drake shot over the Diss bar from 35 yards. Yarmouth had strong appeals for a penalty denied in the 28th minute when Paul Thompson went down. Diss themselves had hopes of a spot kick after 37 minutes when Jopling appealed for a push but this too was over-ruled. Diss had hardly had a shot on target but when they did Osborne was equal to the task.
The closest to a goal so far came in the 47th minute when Coren Hardy's flick-header bounced on top of the Yarmouth bar. The miss came from a Key cross and he lived up to his name as the dominant player in the second half. The only goal resulted from his initial cross, and with Yarmouth down to ten men Key found plenty of space on the left wing but the combined attentions of two or three Yarmouth defenders always limited the supply of crosses.
Just before the Diss goal, Yarmouth might have taken the lead themselves when Pauling dropped a long ball but Michael Shade just failed to stretch far enough to reach the loose ball before the keeper gained possession. As Diss went looking for the second clinching goal, Yarmouth began to create some chances of their own and from a Robert George free kick it was captain Shade who headed just wide, and it was Shade again with a repeat miss after 80 minutes.
Diss pressure became intense in the final minutes with Yarmouth's best opportunities coming from free kicks, and the holders went through to their second successive final leaving the Bloaters to reflect on a battling performance from which to take encouragement in their quest for enough Ridgeons League points to ensure Premier Division survival.
"We deserved the draw," said manager Paul Tong after seeing his battling Bloaters side beaten by a second half Diss comeback: "In fact it could have been 6-6 there were so many chances!" Yarmouth led two-nil after 36 minutes but Diss pulled one back three minutes later, and two second half goals enabled the Tangerines to "double" the Bloaters and leapfrog AFC Sudbury back to the top of the table.
Coren Hardy headed against the Bloaters bar from a Ricky Cornish cross as Diss opened confidently in front of a large Friday night crowd but Yarmouth then took the game to Diss and efforts from Robert George and Paul Thompson both went close. With Hardy and Andy Key always a threat, the Yarmouth penalty area at times resembled a pinball machine but the Bloaters then shocked the home side when they took a 26th minute lead as Micky Shade was given time and space to score after a Paul Thompson shot was blocked by the legs of Nathan Pauling following a free kick: it was the Yarmouth captain's first goal of the season.
Aaron Osborne made a fine save from Hardy a few minutes later and Key hit the bar for Diss in the 36th minute, but play then broke quickly to the other end where Yarmouth doubled their lead, George heading in from Stuart Hunt's centre. Diss then rattled the Yarmouth bar and Aaron Osborne produced a fine save: Nathan Pauling at the other end also made two good stops to deny Thompson and Gary Gilmore before Hardy pulled a goal back in the 39th minute following a flowing move.
For the first twenty minutes of the second half, Yarmouth struggled to get out of their own penalty area, though George had the opportunity to make it 3-1 but the Bloaters' leading scorer shot straight at Pauling. Osborne saved superbly from a 48th minute Gareth Simpson header but he could do nothing about the equaliser: Leighton Miller's 57th minute pass was volleyed in at the far post by Stuart Jopling, and six minutes later the same player headed the winner from a Matthew Wright corner.
Even then Yarmouth had chances to draw level as substitutes Mario Davids and Scott Woodcock caused havoc towards the end and both had good shots saved, then in injury time a blistering Tony Spearing free kick was superbly stopped by Pauling.
"We sat too deep in the second half," said Tong, "allowing Diss to dominate. However, although we rode our luck at times, our players surpassed themselves with a wonderful performance against a quality side. I did think the winning goal should have been disallowed for a foul on Osborne, but overall referee George had a good evening, letting the game flow."
With a sterling defensive performance, the Bloaters gained a well-merited point at Trafford Park against a Wroxham side that had won its last six home games with a goal count of 27 for and only five against. The result is even more impressive when it is noted that Wroxham had put together a run of eight consecutive victories all-told and failed to win only three of the 17 games prior to this one.
Star of the show was 'keeper Aaron Osbourne, who had had failed to impress in his two previous outings. He was unbeatable this time on the ground and in the air, punching well and catching confidently. Defenders Chris Parker and Nathan Drake must also be allowed a share of the plaudits for some superb tackling and interceptions but, in fact, the whole team played with great heart and did not appear to be overawed by the home side's impressive record.
The first half was shaded by Yarmouth, with Wroxham looking lethargic and lacking inspiration on a dull, overcast afternoon. Gary Gilmore was the pick of the Yarmouth attackers down the left and three times he had good chances: the first he hit into the car park behind the goal, the second saw him denied at the last second by Gavin Pauling, and for the third his shot was deflected out of the danger area. Paul Thompson had the ball in the back of the net near the interval but the "goal" was disallowed for an earlier foul by him.
The free-scoring Russell Stock was well-policed by Mark Vincent and didn't have a chance in the first half, while Damian Hilton had one opportunity, a header from a corner that went over the angle of bar and post.
The second half saw a more purposeful Wroxham and the pressure built as the half progressed but Yarmouth continued to defend stubbornly, with Osbourne again producing some outstanding saves. The Bloaters chances were limited this half but Rob George saw a 20 yard effort go narrowly wide, then Gilmore and Stuart Hunt created space down by the left corner flag but the move petered out. Thompson put in a turn of speed to race clear of the home defence on the left but the cross drifted wide, then the striker was marginally offside as he forced a rare save out of Ryan Lemmon.
It was virtually one-way traffic in the last ten minutes and Osbourne produced a tremendous save before Wroxham thought they had won the game in the third minute of added time through substitute Gary McGee but the referee intervened for the second time in the match and the "goal" was overruled for offside.
For Yarmouth, who had lost 3-4 and 1-5 in their two previous Trafford Park encounters, it was a good afternoon's work, but the game will have given Wroxham supporters no encouragement for next week's Vase tie at Nantwich.
The Bloaters took a fourth minute lead against Anglian Combination underdogs Stalham, but that was the highlight of a first half that never reached any great heights on a cold afternoon at the Wellesley. Stalham brought a number of supporters with them to create a local-derby cup-tie atmosphere but they were disappointed to concede the early goal when Mark Vincent headed in Rob George's corner.
Lee Humphreys then played the ball into the box where Paul Thompson just failed to get a touch at the far post. Scott Woodcock was doing some great work for Yarmouth on the right but several crosses of his were wasted. After 16 minutes, hesitancy in the home defence gave Stalham their first chance but David Waters kicked the ball straight at Dean Cooper.
Another spell of Yarmouth attacking saw some desperate defending from Stalham but offside brought them some relief, and in a rare Stalham attack Peter Skivington shot over the Yarmouth bar.
Yarmouth were generally enjoying the bulk of the possession without really troubling Thomas Nicholls though the visiting keeper was required to dive smartly onto a George centre from the right. Gilmore beat three men down the left before centring but the cross again went to waste. However a corner was conceded by Stalham, though Vincent was unable to direct his header into goal from Lee Humphreys kick. Humphreys himself then missed an attempted flicked header from Thompson's pass and Yarmouth won several corners in succession but were unable to convert any. Towards the interval, Stalham began to press Yarmouth back and Skivington shot but unfortunately for his side straight at Cooper.
After the interval, George quickly doubled Yarmouth's lead in the 46th minute, latching onto a Vincent clearance and shooting clinically past Nicholls from 15 yards. Stalham, however, were not yet prepared to concede defeat and kept battling and Karl Barnard missed a gilt-edged chance on 66 minutes: after seizing on to a Nicholls big kick he strode unmarked into the Yarmouth area but side-footed wide from 15 yards as Cooper advanced.
Yarmouth came close to a third goal twice when a Gilmore shot glanced off the outside of a post and then when a Humphreys centre was headed away from under the bar for a corner by Robert Musson.
After 77 minutes, Stalham appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee M George as Skivington twisted and turned in the Yarmouth box. Yarmouth thought they had scored a third goal when Humphreys turned the ball into the net but the assistant referee's flag had long been raised for a throw-in, though after consulting his assistant the referee mysteriously awarded Stalham a free kick in the "D". In time added on Stalham were given a penalty, presumably for handball: Skivington's kick was parried by Cooper but Waters snapped up the rebound to notch a deserved consolation goal for Stalham. But there was no time for Yarmouth to get worried as the referee called time immediately after the restart.
THE OTHER RESULTS: Diss 1, Gorleston 0; Hempnall 1, Norwich Union 2; Norwich Utd 1, Wroxham 3
BLOATERS 3-4 GORLESTON
League, Fri. 26th Dec.
This report taken from the 'Pink Un'
Four players were sent off and eight booked as Gorleston continued their Ridgeons League resurgence with a 4-3 derby clash defeat of Yarmouth on Boxing Day at Wellesley Road.
Gorleston goals from Gary Ingram, in the 30th and 39th minutes, and Gary Todd (37th) appeared to have ended the game as a contest in front of 473 fans.
But the Bloaters hit back through Nathan Drake and Grant Pierpoint before the break.
Tony Spearing became the first player to be shown the red card for a 59th minute challenge on Ingram. Gorleston quickly cashed in on their numerical advantage as Lee Brown made it 4-2 two minutes later.
Lee Humphreys threw Yarmouth a lifeline in the 80th minute before Gorleston had two players sent off in the same incident.
Dale Cockrill was sent off for his second bookable offence and was quickly followed by Dean Jacobs apparently for over-voicing his opinion of his captain's dismissal.
Pierpoint was red-carded in the final minutes as the match ended with nine players a side.
Yarmouth's FA Vase adventure finally ended in South London but only after the tie had gone to extra time. Having fallen behind in the first half, Yarmouth equalised then went ahead in the space of three minutes around the hour mark before Cray levelled matters fifteen minutes from the end of normal time. The extra time winner came direct from a free kick.
Despite earlier fears that the team would be short because of players work and other commitments, the full squad made the journey, some under their own steam! The Bloaters went behind after only nine minutes of the game. From a Yarmouth corner, the ball was cleared out to the Cray left where the outstanding Phil Turner, the home side's captain, made ground before crossing to Matt Woolf who wasted no time in shooting past the advancing Nick Banham who had already pulled off one magnificent save from Cray leading scorer Jamie Kempster. It was the first time Yarmouth had been behind in this season's competition.
Grant Pierpoint had Yarmouth's first shot, a 25 yard free kick that just passed the post. Cray keeper Micky Simmons then punched out a Rob George corner before Howes bundled into the area only to have a free kick awarded against him. In reply, Adam Heaslewood tried a long shot, then Andy Silk sent in what looked a great cross from the right but no home forward was near enough in support.
Cray were showing good form with Turner spraying passes to left and right and while Yarmouth battled they failed to show the sparkle that lit up the previous tie at Littlehampton; Tony Spearing and Nathan Drake were, however, in great form in defence while Captain Micky Shade and veteran Mark Vincent held the middle secure. Then, twice in two minutes Kempster put Banham under pressure but the keeper remained cool and collected. Yarmouth won corners but could not convert any and created little in open play, and though Thompson showed some neat footwork he did not have a scoring chance in the half.
Just before the break, George took a return pass from Lee Humphreys but shot well over, then when Cray threatened again down the left, Banham hesitated in coming out though finally he did collect.
HT Cray 1, Bloaters 0.
Immediately on the resumption, Cray suffered a loss when Woolf broke down with a hamstring problem and was replaced by Richard Dimmock. Shade was booked after 52 minutes for scything down a home forward on the edge of the box but the free kick came to nothing. At the other end, Humphreys burst into the home area to win a corner: George's kick was mis-punched by Simmons and his follow-up shot was put out for another fruitless corner.
But Yarmouth were showing better form by now and deservedly equalised after 57 minutes, albeit from the penalty spot. Thompson set Kevin Howes off down the right and as the striker strode into the Cray box David Gray's challenge sent him tumbling. After the caution had been administered, Humphreys sent Simmons the wrong way with a confident spot kick.
Three minutes later Yarmouth were ahead. From Banham's goal kick, Howes headed on for Gary Gilmore to race through the middle and plant the perfect shot past the advancing Simmons. Cray and their supporters were stunned at the fightback, and Thompson twice had chances to put the tie beyond their reach: first he headed a corner over the top, then after a flowing move down the right George crossed, Howes stepped over the ball and Thompson shot, but unfortunately straight at Simmons - a foot either side and it would have been a goal.
Banham pulled off another good save, plucking Ricky Bennett's cross out of the air before it was Simmons' turn to excel at a corner. More Cray danger was thwarted before the home side replaced Heaslewood with Sam Wood. The substitute was immediately in the action, winning the corner from which came the Cray equaliser. Banham finger-tipped Wood's cross off the line and Nathan Drake diverted the ball out for the corner. From the kick there was chaos in the Yarmouth box and Banham must have been totally unsighted as Kempster got the decisive touch, though on the touchline it was some time before it was established who had scored. It was the striker's 20th goal in only 26 matches. With so many players crowded into the area it was not surprising that a bit of shoving and pushing took place but after some time the referee calmed things down with a booking for the scorer.
It was now game on and the referee again resorted to his notebook as passions became inflamed, George and Dimmock both having their names taken. Back with the football action, Kempster hit one over from six yards when it looked easier to score, then Ian Rawlings almost beat his own keeper but the ball rolled just past the outside of the post for a corner. Howes missed a chance from a Humphreys corner and as the game entered added time, Mark Vincent put a toe in at the vital moment. Both teams went for a winner but it did not come.
Full-time Cray 2, Bloaters 2.
In an extraordinary opening to the extra period, Lover was booked for time-wasting over his own corner kick! Then a Cray official was also cautioned for unwise words to the referee. Lover and Kempster had shots for Cray while Gilmore forced his way into the home box but Simmons claimed the ball. Cray made their last substitution, John Mayall replacing Danny Evans. George passed to Gilmore who couldn't quite reach it before Simmons, then Dimmock headed wide.
In the second period, Banham claimed two corners, then Howes tried a hopeful 25-yarder that however went wide. Then came the winner in the 109th minute. A dubious free kick was awarded Cray wide on their right touchline: Lover lined up the kick and though he couldn't have meant it as a shot the ball sailed over Banham who was slightly off his line. Yarmouth then made their first substitutions, Stuart Hunt replacing Pierpoint, and Scott Woodcock replacing Thompson; it was youth player Woodcock's first taste of cup action for the senior team and he certainly injected some pace into the Yarmouth front line, with a run and cross on the right then a movement down the left which took him into the box but he delayed shooting and when he did the effort was blocked.
Yarmouth's final throw of the dice was to bring on Mario Davids for Drake for an all-out assault with Shade moved up, but it was George who had the last shot which was cruelly deflected out for a final fruitless corner.
Yarmouth had given their all but were possibly just shaded by the Wands whose captain was nominated man-of-the-match.
Against high-flying Halstead who were promoted from the First Division last season, Yarmouth, who were level 1-1 at half-time after a competitive first 45 minutes, fell away in the second half and conceded two further goals. There can be no complaints about the result as the Bloaters looked very flat and created little after the break.
The early stages saw some brisk exchanges and Yarmouth went close through Gary Gilmore after a Rob George throw was flicked on by Paul Thompson. But it was the home side that looked the more dangerous, Yarmouth 'keeper Aran Osbourne, a 19-year old signed on Friday from Norwich City and making his debut, saving from Kevin Inglis, then cutting out a useful cross from Atangana, who then crossed for Heath to head just over. For a spell Yarmouth began to get into the game with Gilmore and Mario Davids particularly prominent, but it was Halstead who drew first blood on 23 minutes, when Jimmy Chatters left Yarmouth defenders in his wake for Gareth Heath to touch home the accurate, low cross.
However ten minutes later Yarmouth were back on terms when good work on the right flank by Davids paved the way for Grant Pierpoint to hit the target with a deflection off a defender that left keeper Dave Walton stranded.
In an end to end half, George then tried a 40 yard lob, but Yarmouth were grateful for the half-time whistle as a Halstead corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble and Halstead's Tony English was denied by a goal-line clearance by Nathan Drake .
Yarmouth resumed with Kevin Howes for Davids, and although Gilmore had a shot well-saved early in the second half, following a flick-on by Howes, and Luke Hammond tested Osbourne with a firm first timer, plenty of end to end play resulted in little to worry the respective keepers.
However, on the hour Halstead went in front again and never looked back, Hammond weighting his through ball nicely for Heath to ram home his second, and although the home side kept on top, with defender Glen Revell clipping the Yarmouth crossbar, the Bloaters had several useful moments but created little danger.
Yarmouth's best chance of the half saw Howes hit the side netting after a terrific run by George, but Halstead settled the issue on 80 minutes when man-of-the-match Atangana pounced after Yarmouth keeper Osbourne dropped a cross by Chris Dennett, and fired home a cross shot to make it 3-1
Alan Smith, second in command at Yarmouth, said:" I was most impressed by Halstead who must be the best footballing side we have faced this season. They played some great stuff."
The Bloaters easily achieved their biggest-ever win over Fakenham on Tuesday. The visiting team were but a ghost of their former selves, and look certainties for relegation this season, having gained only one point so far from 18 games and scored only five goals.
The win gave Yarmouth their first "double" of the season but it was a strangely subdued affair, as if the home team took pity on their guests plight; however, the Bloaters did make it fourteen goals from their last three home games, more than they had scored in the previous nine Wellesley fixtures!
Adding to first half goals from Rob George and Lee Humphreys, former Fakenham player Gary Gilmore notched his first for Yarmouth while Kevin Howes returned from holiday to score the fourth after coming off the bench.
Yarmouth put out the same starting line-up as defeated Holt on Saturday but named Mark Vincent, who appears to have recovered from his recent injury, as a substitute, though he was not needed on this occasion.
Looking for the now-customary early goal, Yarmouth saw a header from Shade off a free kick go wide after only four minutes, and a minute later Yarmouth went close again when, not for the first time on the night, a Thompson pass set up Mario Davids. Yarmouth were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box but Pierpoint's attempted lob just cleared the bar.
Fakenham began to show, and in the tenth minute Wayne Coe tried his luck from 40 yards and although the ball was comfortably collected by Banham the effort encouraged the Ghosts who played some nice passes down their left where Stewart Barker, recently returned to Fakenham after spending the opening weeks of the season with the Bloaters, created some danger. But with Shade in commanding form at the back, Yarmouth rarely looked in trouble defensively.
Yarmouth nearly went ahead in the 25th minute but a goal from Davids after a free kick was disallowed for offside. However, six minutes later they did score a legitimate goal when, after a good build-up on the left, Pierpoint played a short pass to George who rammed the ball home past Gavin Askew from a few yards out.
This was the goal Yarmouth needed to lift them and they added to it seven minutes later: Gilmore was brought down in the area to the left of goal and up stepped Humphreys to convert the spot-kick.
Banham then collected a couple of Fakenham free kicks before half time and with the game seemingly won and lost, Fakenham relaxed and had a good spell after the interval though they were restricted to shooting from distance and there was never any real danger of Yarmouth not achieving only their third clean sheet in league games this season.
Pongo Thompson might have done better had he put his head instead of a boot to another Gilmore centre, but the excellent Gilmore made it three with his first goal for Yarmouth when his angled centre from the left of goal somehow slipped past Askew and crept in at the far post in the 63rd minute.
With Thompson spraying passes from the centre and Davids and Gilmore out wide, Yarmouth were looking a very balanced combination, but it was left to Howes, a 77th minute substitute for George who had taken a knock, to supply the coup de gras with an excellent solo goal seven minutes from the end.
So, Yarmouth's fourth win on the trot sent their supporters home happy, but Fakenham must now be contemplating visits to the likes of Downham, Somersham and Long Melford.
Manager Paul Tong buys Pongo a drink after his hat-trick performance!
BLOATERS 5-1 HOLT UNITED Norfolk Senior Cup 3rd Round, Sat. 29th November
Hail, King Pongo! The hat-trick hero saw off the challenge of Anglian Combination Division One outfit Holt virtually singlehandedly. For not only did he score three early Christmas Crackers, but his support play and passing were exceptional. He has now amassed five goals in the last two home games and showed he has fully recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out for fourteen games, his return strangely coinciding with that of Nick Banham in goal.
The team has now put together a run of three straight wins after a losing sequence of five games and significantly they are now starting to put away some of the any chances they have been creating all season. After scoring only one goal in his first seven games since returning from Lowestoft, Thompson has scored half of the ten goals scored in those three wins, reasserting his belief in himself and his reputation as a scourge of opposing defences!
It was, however, another returning player who set the ball rolling in only the fourth minute of the game when Mario Davids, Thompson's strike partner for this game with both Neil Adcock (operation) and Kevin Howes (holiday) unavailable, turned and shot from the edge of the area to see the ball fly over Holt 'keeper Justin Goff and into the roof on the net. It was Thompson's pass which set up the chance, but Holt soon replied through former Norwich and Torquay striker Stuart Herd who shot under the advancing Banham's dive four minutes later.
With the wind and rain at their backs, Yarmouth then set about encamping in the Holt half but despite winning twelve corners before the break the Bloaters had to wait until the 36th minute before regaining the lead when Thompson's low 20-yard shot from wide on the Yarmouth left raced across the surprised Goff and into the far corner of the net.
Holt had had great difficulty in making any progress against the worsening weather and at first it looked as if Yarmouth would experience similar problems when the teams switched ends. But the Bloaters got the tactics right by playing short passes on the ground and were rewarded with two goals in a minute to knock the stuffing out of the visitors.
A beautiful four-man move ended with a cross from the right by Grant Pierpoint and there was the head of Thompson to make it 3-1 in the 53rd minute. Seconds later, in Yarmouth's next attack, Robert George received a great pass from Davids and his head made it four.
Thompson was spreading passes around with great vision and he next created a chance for Gary Gilmore but Goff saved at the foot of a post. Davids, to great applause, was replaced by Stuart Hunt but Holt then had a purple patch though without seriously inconveniencing Banham. Herd took a quick free kick on the edge of the Yarmouth box but it rebounded off the wall; the same player then went up for a header but Banham just got there first. Robin Webdale, on his knees, headed wide then Holt won a couple of corners, but with the weather easing a little Yarmouth returned to the attack.
Martin Pert moved up with the forwards but was caught offside, then George put his head down and went for goal on one of his famous runs on the right but he stumbled under challenge and Goff gratefully grabbed the ball. Banham earned his corn with a superb save in the 79th minute as Holt mounted a late assault: Spearing had to head off his line while Banham had to rise to save from Simon Murphy four minutes from the end.
However, Yarmouth had the last laugh as Thompson completed a well-deserved hat-trick with a header from George's cross seconds from the final whistle. Modest as ever, the Bloaters striker said of his scoring feat "It was just bread and butter," but he did reckon he had put 20-30 on the gate after the last home game!
A magnificent performance in the mud and the rain on the Sussex coast enabled the Bloaters to advance to the third round for the first time under Paul Tong - the last occasion was season 1991-1992.
At times it was backs-to-the-wall stuff as the home team laid siege to the Bloaters goal near the end, and Yarmouth survived an equalising goal which was disallowed for a foul.
The game marked Lee Humphreys' 200th appearance and no-one worked harder in a terrific team performance. However, Grant Pierpoint, who scored one goal and made the other, was Alan Smith's man of the match.
Heavy morning rain had put a question mark over the game going ahead but after a dry spell referee Evamy got the game under way on time, though the rain had started again. The early stages were dominated by free kicks, mostly conceded by Yarmouth and, with the underfoot conditions slippery, control was going to be vital with mistakes likely to prove costly.
Nick Banham retained his place following his return on Tuesday and got away with a couple of slip-ups in the first ten minutes. Home keeper Phillips had little to do in the opening phase except collect a free kick from George in the first minute.
Hinshelwood, son of the former pro player, saw his header go straight to Banham after 12 minutes. Four minutes later, Spearing collected the game's first booking for a sliding tackle on More, though with players slipping and sliding everywhere it must have been difficult to separate deliberate fouls from accidental ones. The ball was certainly skipping off the surface at a lightning pace and many long passes went astray.
Banham made another good catch after 20 minutes, but a minute later Yarmouth went ahead. George was fouled midway in the Littlehampton half and Pierpoint strode up to confidently smash the ball past Phillips from some 40 yards. It was Yarmouth's first direct shot at goal and lifted the visitors.
After a 15 yard volley from Williams went narrowly wide, Yarmouth began to impose themselves on the game and for long spells attacked down the left hand side where Gilmore, Adcock and Thompson linked well, though they could not quite create a shooting chance, being closely attended by defenders. Yarmouth did go near on 34 minutes when a Pierpoint shot from the left forced Phillips into a diving stop in the muddy goalmouth with the keeper just hanging on to the ball despite the close attention of Adcock and Thompson. More pressure from Yarmouth gave work for defender Tabor to do, conceding a throw from a huge Banham clearance then a corner as Gilmore threatened. Shade went up for the kick which Philips touched away, only for Yarmouth to concede a free kick as the half drew to a close.
Half Time 0-1
The home side created a quick equaliser five minutes into the half when Chester found time and space in the Bloaters' area to send a fine header past Banham from just inside the box. The conditions were certainly creating an exciting spectacle for the 122 spectators and play switched from end to end frequently. Pierpoint became the second booking of the game, again for an injudicious foul, and the home supporters were getting a little incensed. Adcock had a shot saved then a Miller effort skidded just past Banham's post while More lifted a shot over his bar.
Yarmouth regained the lead after 59 minutes when a Pierpoint pass through the middle found George who raced towards goal. Phillips came out to meet him but George was too clever for him and was able to steer the ball into an empty net despite the attentions of a defender.
The rain was now sheeting down but apart from its slipperiness the pitch was holding up well. A scramble in the Yarmouth box ended with Humphreys going down injured. Yarmouth then survived a confident penalty appeal after 70 minutes, and More shot wide as play continued. Thompson had had a quiet game as far as chances went but he did have one in the 72nd minute when Gilmore sent a fine cross in from the left, but the striker's sharp header was straight at Phillips. Six minutes later, Humphreys floated over a free kick to the far post where Thompson was waiting but a defender beat him to it to concede a corner. Yarmouth then made their one substitution, Mark George replacing the tiring Pierpoint.
The last minutes were hectic at both ends: a shot from Gilmore stung Phillips hands, a fumble by Banham was cleared by Drake, Gilmore hit a post, then Banham leapt to save. Added time seem to go on for ever: Shade was booked for a foul, then in the final seconds Littlehampton had the ball in the net but referee Evamy, who'd had a good game in the circumstances, blew for a foul by a home player, and Yarmouth had won!
A barnstorming second half ensured an end to Yarmouth's run of five consecutive defeats and also chalked up their biggest score since last season's 5-0 win over Blofied in the Senior Cup.
With manager Paul Tong absent on a pre-arranged break in London, it was the visitors' plans that went up in smoke as assistant manager Alan Smith and coach Derek Bevan masterminded Yarmouth's match-winning performance.
Paul Thompson was back at his old best with a couple of goals, Robert George restored himself as leading scorer with a brace of his own, and an opponent also helped Yarmouth to their big score.
Another early goal set Yarmouth on their way, as in only the eighth minute George let one fly from 40 yards that was in the back of the net before Mildenhall's 'keeper Banthorpe could blink. However, it wouldn't be Yarmouth if they made it look too easy and just to ensure the supporters (few as they were) didnt get complacent, the Bloaters allowed Mildenhall back into the game with two soft goals, Paynter and Smith taking advantage of some sloppy defending in the 19th and 33rd minutes respectively.
In between these goals, Yarmouth's Mark Vincent had to go off with a hamstring injury but with Nathan Drake dropping back, Chris Parker enjoying his first full game since returning, and Nick Banham back between the sticks, there didn't appear to be too many problems at the back - the two goals notwithstanding.
Yarmouth's equalising goal seconds before half time was a pure gift from visiting defender Rush who slammed George's low cross into the roof of his own net!
In the second half Yarmouth really set about Mildenhall and played some of their finest football of the season, creating chance after chance, and converting three of them. Robert George's 61st minute corner was heading for the back of the net after hitting defender Blackburn but Thompson got a final touch with his head just to make sure. His first goal since the FA Cup opener against Southall - the crowd went wild! Thompson then made it 4-2 ten minutes later when he latched onto a rebound just inside the box. There was only one team in it, and George made it a nap hand with his second of the match on 77 minutes with a header after a Gilmore shot was only pushed away by Banthorpe. Yarmouth looked like scoring every time they attacked - what a feast of football those who stayed away missed!
"This was a vital win in view of our Vase game on Saturday," said Smith: "we can now go down to Littlehampton with some confidence. What was pleasing was that we didn't let the two silly goals we conceded upset us, and the whole team oozed confidence after the third goal. It was the most chances I've seen us create in any game this season."
Yarmouth put up a brave fight against the league champions but ultimately succumbed to their opponents prestigious reputation. Considering the Suffolk side's achievements since their formation, Yarmouth have a good record against AFC Sudbury and manager Paul Tong reckons he's a bit of a bogey to them. It looked that way at seven minutes past three in this game as Yarmouth took the lead through Neil Adcock who touched home a near-post centre with the visitors defence scrambling to clear.
Yarmouth had already seen an Adcock shot demand a diving save from Dean Greygoose in the Sudbury goal, long shots from Stuart Hunt and Kevin Howes, and a Gary Gilmore ball to the far post which saw Howes place the ball just wide of a post. Of the much-vaunted Sudbury attack, little had been seen, but they were not long in finding an equaliser and three minutes after Adcock's opener, they were level. The Bloaters defence allowed Michael Cheetham the chance to pick out Dean Francis on the right and his cross was stabbed wide of Sean Cooper by the ever-dangerous Gary Bennett.
Yarmouth did not this setback get to them and for a further twenty minutes they looked the more likely to score. However, Sudbury moved ahead on 34 minutes and from then never looked back. Yarmouth failed to cut out more danger on the right and this time Bennett turned provider for Paul Betson to brilliantly volley home from 15 yards.
Further first half chances came Yarmouth's way but they could not force a second goal. The best opportunity came from an Adcock ball to the far post where Howes connected but his shot ran almost along the goal line and while a corner was won, Robert George's kick was easily taken by Greygoose.
Paul Thompson replaced Howes (hamstring) for his first appearance for a month and he made his presence felt but it was Sudbury who proceeded to command the game. The third goal came after 63 minutes, again from Bennett: Jodie Harrison missed a clearance from Betson's centre, Andrew Claydon touched the ball on and Bennett had an easy tap-in. Game, set and match as they say in another game! Gilmore had to leave the field after a knock and with him went Yarmouth's last hope of creating another goal.
This match was about only one man, Alex Rhodes, who was the difference between the sides. The modest and likeable 21 year old was making his last appearance for the Jockeys before his transfer to Brentford FC next week and he did so in style, scoring a hat-trick and having a hand in the other Newmarket goal.
This was a remarkable match in many ways and not just because of Rhodes' exceptional contribution. Both teams had been sitting on losing runs not having troubled the scorers significantly in recent weeks; Newmarket had scored just once (inevitably, Rhodes) in their last four games, Yarmouth once in the last three, so not many would have predicted a high scoring outcome. It was the first time Yarmouth have scored more than twice in league games (and only the second all told), and it was also the first time they have conceded more than two in any game this season, but all the Newmarket goals were well-taken.
Yarmouth scored their quickest goal of the season (timed at one minute 25 seconds) when Neil Adcock glanced home a Humphreys corner, and for a time they looked the sharper team, Adcock again, Howes, George and Gilmore all having chances. But Newmarket turned the game around with a quick 1-2 midway through the half. On 23 minutes, Ogilvie passed inside to Rhodes who dropped the ball into the path of Pope who beat Cooper all ends up with a rising drive from the edge of the box, and a minute later Rhodes got the first of his three with another cracking shot from wide on the left that fairly flew across Cooper into the far corner.
The goals transformed Newmarket who now dominated and George was forced into a goalline clearance while Vincent conceded a corner to deny Rhodes.
The second half started, as did the first, in promising fashion for the Bloaters. Adcock scored his second after a Humphreys free kick was knocked down to him by Howes, but Rhodes soon put a stop to any thoughts of a point or three for Yarmouth.
A wonderful goal on 58 minutes restored the Jockeys lead: a crossfield pass found Rhodes in space on the left front corner of the penalty area and he wasted no time in sending the ball past Cooper. His speed of thought and action constantly bemused the Bloaters defence, and he did it again after 80 minutes, though this time he arrived on the right of the attack unnoticed by Cooper's left-hand goalpost to meet Shaw's cross and score, this time with his head. Cooper had been cruelly exposed by his absent defence on both occasions.
In between these two goals, Howes forced a fingertip save from Benstead who then saved from Adcock who was having his best game of the season for the Bloaters. Adcock also fired one over and had another ball nicked off him at the last moment by Abbotts. Gilmore tried one from 30 yards but Benstead was alert to it and really, apart from Rhodes, Newmarket were a very ordinary side. Rob George gave the scoreline a more realistic look, though somewhat fortuitously, when his weak shot took a bounce and bobbled under Benstead's attempt to pick it up in the last minute.
In a nice touch at the end, all the Yarmouth players shook hands with Rhodes to wish him luck in his new career.
"Rhodes was the difference between the sides," agreed Bloaters' manager Paul Tong."However, we could have defended better for some of the goals. We created some great chances ourselves, especially from the front men. For once we actually had some defensive problems to talk about in the dressing room, rather than our attacking shortcomings!"
The relief on the faces of the Dereham players as they gained their first home win was palpable, but for Yarmouth the match was further confirmation of their disastrous lack of fire power. The corner count of 8-4 in the Bloaters favour belies the extent of their domination of the exchanges, but when it came to the final third of the pitch they were embarrassingly inept.
The Dereham defence survived a testing examination in the first three minutes when shots and corners rained in from Yarmouth, but then the home side cheekily went ahead in the tenth minute: a free kick conceded by Cruz on the edge of the box was put away by Nathan Ferguson, though it needed a fortunate deflection off a defender in the wall to skid past Cooper.
Dereham's second shot did not come until the 34th minute - again from Ferguson - but by then Yarmouth should have been well ahead: man-of-the-match Gary Gilmore and Kevin Winkworth worked a good opening which was diverted for a corner, another Robert George corner was knocked down by home keeper Stuart Parsons right under the bar, and Neil Adcock had a well-struck shot saved by Parsons feet.
A great pass by Tony Spearing found Gilmore on the left and his cross would have been inch-perfect if the strikers had not all advanced in a line together. The tale of missed chances went on as George went on a run down the right but his centre was headed over from six yards by the unchallenged Adcock, and as the half drew to a close Peter Hillier put Dereham's third shot of the match over the Yarmouth bar.
In the second half, Dereham grew in confidence as Yarmouth became increasingly distraught at their failures in front of goal. The home side played the ball coolly out of defence but still could not find anything more to beat Vincent, Spearing or Cooper. Spearing, indeed, moved into attacking mode for the first time since joining Yarmouth but the move was blocked.
Mark George, Scott Woodcock and the returning Chris Parker (18 months since his last first team appearance) all came off the bench but Gilmore still looked Yarmouth's best route to goal; indeed, he had the best chance of the half in the final ten minutes but lifted his shot over the angle of the framework. Mark Vincent, who had been moved up to the forward line, had the last two efforts for Yarmouth, shooting over, then glancing a header wide in added time.
"I couldn't fault the lads for their effort and commitment," said manager Paul Tong, "but I honestly dont know where the next goal's coming from. We'll just have to keep plugging away."
A match Yarmouth could reasonably have been expected to win instead ended in bitter disappointment, not just at the result but in its manner.
Having taken the lead in the first half, the game took what is becoming an all-too-familiar pattern as Yarmouth then went on to miss many chances and conceded a soft equaliser before half time. After the break, chances again came the Bloaters way, but it was the young Linnets who snatched the winning goal. Yarmouth's scoring problems mean that for all the good work done by the defence and midfield, and they have conceded less goals than league leaders Diss, they are vulnerable to a single costly mistake.
The first real chance of the match fell to Lynn but McManus fired over after a knockdown by Cobb in the tenth minute. But two minutes later, Yarmouth opened the scoring. Humphreys received the ball in a central position from a George throw-in and scored with a right-footed volley from twenty yards.
In cool, blustery conditions, both sides opted for the long ball approach. Yarmouth won several corners but attempts from Adcock, Howes and George were all in vain. Portuguese Jose Cruz was making his first team home debut, nominally at right back, but he was often caught upfield leaving his corner open to the lively young Linnets. The equaliser came on 28 minutes when Bush lifted a ball into the Yarmouth box and Cobb headed wide of Cooper as the home keeper came off his line.
A back header by Hyde put Nobes in trouble but the Lynn keeper just recovered to foil the lurking George. Spearing was then forced into two goal-line clearances at the other end. Cruz made one of his advances up the right and laid a good ball on for Adcock who won a corner from which Howes glanced a header wide in the 40th minute. Another attack soon after saw Howes send a useful header to Adcock but Nobes intercepted. Howes was booked for a foul in time added on.
Six minutes into the second half, Mark Vincent missed his kick with the goal at his mercy and another chance went begging. Cooper then had to be at his best to tip over a 25 yard shot from McManus before Lynn took the lead eleven minutes into the half: from a corner, Hyde headed past Cooper via the underside of the bar for a 2-1 lead.
Shade, back after missing several matches with his Achilles trouble, was booked for a foul before Cruz was withdrawn in favour of Pierpoint who took up a more forward position. A Humphreys free kick was well on target but went straight to Nobes. On 72 minutes, youth player Woodcock replaced midfielder Hunt who had not had the best of games, but the youngster immediately took a place in the front line; his first touch was a penetrating pass through the middle but Nobes advanced to claim the ball.
Cooper made a one-handed save to deny Cobb possession though the Lynn player had looked offside. Woodcock's pace won another corner, then a free kick, but Yarmouth were unable to take advantage by scoring. Adcock had a fine chance at the back post but his weak header was straight at Nobes when a nod back might have borne fruit. The final miss was courtesy George who hit over from three yards in front of goal.
A match that had looked all over a goal-less draw, ended explosively when Soham man-of-the-match Ozzie Foster latched on to a loose ball in the Yarmouth box and unleashed a fine shot across Cooper and into the far bottom corner with just 30 seconds remaining on the clock. There was barely time to get the game started again before referee Stanton brought an untidy game to a close.
Yarmouth, missing the suspended Gilmore, laboured to produce anything in the opposing penalty area and home keeper Gillings had an easy afternoon; Cooper was the busier keeper by far though even he was not seriously extended as both sides had an off day in front of goal with most shots being high or wide and not so handsome.
Though the Bloaters will be sore at losing the game after having come so close to a point, Soham just about deserved their victory as reflected in the corner count of 9-3 in their favour. The nearest Yarmouth came to a goal was down to Soham player Potter who, after 62 minutes, inadvertently put the ball past his own keeper who had to scramble back to keep it out of the net.
New signing Jose Cruz, with over 30 international caps for Portugal Under 19s, made his debut near the end but there was not time to make any assessment.
Yarmouth kicked off without Captain Micky Shade, still troubled by Achilles problems. Jody Harrison replaced him, with Tony Spearing again assuming the captain's mantel. Stuart Hunt retained his place after his fine performance last week.
It was going to be a hard game against the Saints who last week suffered only their first defeat of the season at Kettering in the FA Cup, and with a hard and rutted pitch to contend with; the pitch was also liberally scattered with sand and stones.
Several slip-ups early in the game indicated the difficult nature of the surface. Saints had the first shot of the tie after 4 minutes, Lovett shooting wide with the Bloaters defence caught off guard. After nine minutes. Hardy had a strong shot saved by Cooper at the second attempt after the home side had initially lost the ball after a corner.
The Saints built several promising moves in the opening exchanges but the Bloaters defence held firm. Cooper then caught a free kick from Lovett as the home side continued to probe for the opening goal with the Bloaters yet to test Virgo in the home goal.
Yarmouth finally got a shot towards the Saints goal but Drake's effort went a couple of feet wide. However, Yarmouth were starting to put some threatening attacks together and took the lead after 24 minutes. Gilmore made progress down the left wing and cut inside to unleash a shot which was parried by Virgo; George's follow-up attempt was blocked out for a corner and when Humphreys kick came over there was Vincent at the far post to finish the job with a trademark header.
Humphreys was undoubtedly the star in the Yarmouth midfield while the defence of Spearing, Vincent and Harrison kept the home attack quiet.
George set off on one of his runs but was impeded by Judges who was booked for his pains.
In Saints first attack for some time, Morgan blasted well over but then it was back to the other end again and a Humphreys free kick was headed behind for another corner. All sorts of trouble followed for the home defence, not for the first time in the match, as headers from Howes, Hunt and George were all blocked. The ball was knocked out for another corner which Vincent headed onto the top of the bar.
Half time: Saints 0-1 Bloaters
Cooper was called into action to make the first save of the second half and from the clearance Gilmore was just beaten to the ball by the onrushing Virgo. Gilmore soon had another chance but hit wide from George's headed centre after a Spearing free kick down the left.
The Saints fought back and a Howard header flew narrowly wide. Hunt delivered a perfect pass through the middle to Howes but the striker's first touch took the ball away from himself. A Howard free kick, awarded after a foul by Hunt, was headed over by Hardy but moments later Yarmouth went two-up as the home defence fell apart again. Howes caused the problem with a shot that Virgo could only parry, and with defenders floundering to clear the ball, Howes was left with a simple shot from five yards into the unguarded net.
That was in the 56th minute and nine minutes later Cooper produced a spectacular save to deny Lovett. Saints now tried hard to get back into the game and with Humphreys off the pitch receiving treatment for a cut eye the home side attacked down their right hand side and referee Symonds was called on to calm things down as a few tackles went in.
After 73 minutes, Hunt, who had received a knock, went off to be replaced by Pierpoint and Yarmouth had to defend in depth as Saints exerted some pressure. Pierpoint's first touch was to concede a corner but Drake was on hand to head clear easily. Howes had also taken a slight knock and after a great hustling performance up front was replaced by Pert. On 82 minutes, Cooper had to be at his best to deny the home side's Barker low by his right hand post.
The final minutes were very exciting. Gilmore had a shot blocked and George fired well over, and into the woods behind the goal, as Yarmouth sought to put the game beyond all recall, though in truth Saints were now a spent force. Cooper then made the save of the match with, in fact, a double save, the second while still lying on the ground after the first. Lovett was booked in the final minute but there was still time to be added on and in that time Virgo denied Gilmore a goal with a superb one-handed push over and with the clock showing 95 minutes played young Darren Smith came on for Gilmore who had played his heart out, as indeed had all his team.
Three points from the Bloaters first League win since August 26th but everyone was left wondering how they didn't win by a more emphatic scoreline against the weakest Stowmarket team for several years, admittedly one with five teenagers. The visitors had the excuse that the previous manager left in the summer taking half the side with him but Yarmouth were really only missing Spearing (holiday) from an otherwise full-strength squad.
Yarmouth created chance after chance, especially down the right and the misses started as early as the third minute when Hammond made a double save from Pierpoint and George. Stuart Hunt was back in the side after an enforced absence of some 18 months and immediately made his presence felt with a crunching tackle in the 5th minute; the midfielder went on to have the starring role as he put his colleagues to shame with his control, vision and passing.
Both the Yarmouth goals came within a minute of each other just before the interval. In the 39th minute, after some ball-juggling in midfield, Lee Humphreys unleashed a 20 yard shot that looked to be covered by Hammond but somehow the ball slipped through the hapless visiting keeper's hands. A minute later, Mark Vincent made it two lashing home the loose ball after a corner; it was the veteran's first of the season, and his 69th all told.
In the second half, Yarmouth were guilty of twin sins of either trying to be too elaborate, allowing Stowmarket time to organise and get behind the ball, or of knocking the ball too long. The out-of-luck Kevin Howes was replaced by Mario Davids but immediately the substitute had to come off himself as his twisted knee, sustained last week at Maldon, was obviously still not right. This allowed young Scott Woodcock a longer opportunity than he had on Tuesday at Norwich United and although it began to look as if things might happen when he got the ball nothing came quite right for him on this occasion. Neil Adcock, who had come on minutes earlier for Grant Pierpoint, was sadly out of touch and did not have a single effort on target.
Right on 90 minutes, Vincent must have thought he'd scored a second, but his point-blank header from a corner was fantastically saved by Hammond for another fruitless corner. Seconds later with the officials looking at their watches, Drummond pulled one back for Stowmarket after cleverly fooling Cooper: shaping up to shoot to the far side of goal, he changed the angle as he shot, the ball passing between Cooper and his right hand post with the keeper unable to do anything about it. This was just about the visitor's only direct shot at goal.
A game without goals, but not without interest. Most eyes would have been on Neil Bilham to see how the former Yarmouth player, who left under a cloud late last season, would perform against his old club. Well, he totally failed to disturb the equilibrium of the Yarmouth defence and got himself booked into the bargain for a two-footed tackle on Nathan Drake.
Another former Yarmouth player of last season Kristian Jones was absent tonight but yet another, Dale Cooper, was at the heart of the United defence and little got past him.
The Bloaters had two enforced changes with both Davids and Gilmore injured on Saturday, Pierpoint and Pert replacing them. On the bench were two youth players in Scott Woodcock and Darren Smith, and both got their chance late in the game. Woodcock, though only on the field for about ten minutes, impressed with his pace and enthusiasm.
There were few chances in the first half with most shots being from distance and neither keeper was seriously troubled. The nearest to a goal was a Kevin Howes shot which hit the United bar after only five minutes. Rob George was lively up front and after 21 minutes made a half yard of space for a shot that narrowly missed from 20 yards. Bilham was booked in the 24th minute, then George sent in a brilliant cross that was headed behind for the corner.
A back-header from Cooper nearly fell for George but Woodcock intercepted, then the keeper was not so lucky as he missed a free kick but the approaching Howes just failed to get it also. Howes and George then hit shots over as Yarmouth finished the half on top.
Bilham, who has been finding the net regularly for the Planters, was hardly in the game tonight but did win a free kick on the edge of the Yarmouth box but when he took it himself the ball sailed harmlessly over the top. A shot from Liam Doyle was not too far away then Bilham saw another which also dipped over the top of the bar. Both sides made substitutions and United won the bookings by three to one. Yul Brynner-lookalike Scott Woodcock came on for Yarmouth and had a couple of late chances one of which saw his namesake in the home goal just get his fingertips to the ball. Both defences looked impregnable tonight with both sets of forwards having an off-night.
Yarmouth - Cooper, Barker, Spearing, Vincent, Shade, Drake, Pert, George, Pierpoint, Howes, Humphreys. Subs: Adcock, M George n/u, Woodcock, D Smith.
MALDON TN 1-1 BLOATERS
League, Sat. 4th Oct.
'Keeper Sean Cooper expressed the feelings of the Yarmouth camp when after the game he said: "We would have settled for a point before the kick-off but in the end we were disappointed not to get all three."
Maldon started the game in third place with only one defeat in eight while the Bloaters were in 15th place. However, Yarmouth's away form came good again. Maldon were missing several key players while Yarmouth, although still without Thompson, were at virtually full strength. For the first time that anyone could remember, Mark Vincent did not wear the number five shirt, giving that up to captain Micky Shade, while he himself took the 4.
On a cold afternoon, Yarmouth faced a strong wind in the first half. However the Bloaters quickly got into their stride though the first shot came from Maldon's Huttley who fired well over Cooper's bar.
An unfortunate injury to Mario Davids after only 15 minutes resulted in the nippy Namibian being stretchered off with a twisted knee. Manager Tong brought on Martin Pert but retained the same formation. This subsequently proved a good decision as the substitute was required to make many a strong tackle. The first half was distinctly lacking in real goalmouth action though Maldon looked the more likely to score. Indeed, they were unfortunate not to do so then Yarmouth went straight to the other end and took the lead.
In the 35th minute Shave chipped the ball across from the right and found Docking who had beaten the offside but sent his flying header onto the crossbar. Straight from the clearance, Nathan Drake sent a ball down the middle and Kevin Howes nipped in between advancing home keeper Cattley and his defender Goodacre to toe-poke the ball home into the empty net. Both Maldon players were injured in the incident and received several minutes attention, anxious minutes for Bloaters supporters as they waited to see if a foul had been committed. But no, the goal was good. In the 7th minute of added time Howes thought he had done it again, this time with a spectacular shot into the roof of the net, but the effort was disallowed and the striker received a talking to for his pains.
Goodacre was unable to continue for the second half and was replaced by Carter. But Yarmouth almost increased the lead when in the 49th minute Gary Gilmore's cross hit a defender and went narrowly wide of the post. From the corner, Mark Vincent, under pressure, hit over. Gilmore created more danger after 57 minutes but he was denied a goal by a fine one-handed save by Cattley. Gilmore, who had taken a slight knock, was then replaced by Neil Adcock on 67 minutes.
Maldon equalised in the 75th minute when Stewart Barker, who had had a fine game on the left, unfortunately misjudged the bounce in the swirling wind and Ian Brown pounced to send in a great cross that Shave headed home past Cooper's left hand. Pierpoint replaced Howes who had taken several knocks and had received little protection from the referee.
However, it was Yarmouth that finished the stronger with several chances in the closing stages and only the brilliance of keeper Cattley saved Maldon as Adcock and Rob George went close on at least three occasions.
The match was featured in the Green 'Un as Neal Manning's 'Match of the Week'. See Newsfile for Neal's summing up.
BLOATERS 0-1 BURY TOWN
League Cup Preliminary Round, Tues. 30th Sept
Bury progressed to the First Round with a goal scored two minutes into the first extra time period. It was a goal out of nothing but a good shot by Ben Munro on the turn was sufficient to beat Cooper by his right hand post.
It had been a frustrating game for both the teams and the supporters with some good build-up play wasted by poor finishing or good keeping.
Yarmouth were without Spearing (holiday), Vincent (work), Harrison (work) and Thompson (injury) but at least captain Micky Shade returned, and lasted the whole game. Bury were minus Ian Stringfellow, who has given up the game, and Steve McGavin.
Bury's Tatham made what must be a candidate for "miss of the season" when with the goal at his mercy after only 15 minutes he delayed his shot enabling Cooper to put him off. Gilmore for the Bloaters missed a similar opportunity at the other end before blasting wide after another good run in the 20th minute.
Yarmouth kept up a spell of pressure and Barker shot wide while Adcock won another corner. Bury tried to hit back through Parker but he shot over the top, and Munro also hit a shot just wide. Just before the break George sent a wicked cross along the Bury goalline but Crown diverted it for a corner.
More chances came and went in the second half and with Bury growing in confidence Eady and Wake both sent headers wide. Yarmouth had a remarkable escape in the 73rd minute when a shot rebounded off a post into the waiting arms of Cooper. Pierpoint sent a free kick well wide of the Bury goal then Gilmore had a close-range shot pushed round the post by keeper Cudworth.
Four minutes from the end Gilmore took on Miller, beat him and crossed only for Cudworth to intercept once more. George headed on a corner but Davids from almost on the line back-headed over.
Bury missed two more good chances in the final minutes of normal time when Ince hit wide of the far post, then Drake dramatically cleared off his own line to take the tie into extra time.
Adcock twice had the ball in the Bury net at the start of extra time but the first was discounted for offside and the second because the ball had previously gone out of play. It was in between these that Bury scored their goal. Substitutions were made by both sides then. Cooper prevented another goal after 118 minutes when he pushed Evans shot round for a corner and there was just time for Pierpoint to receive his seventh booking in as many games before the final whistle.
Yarmouth - Cooper, Pierpoint, Barker, Drake, Shade, Davids, Gilmore, R George, Adcock, Howes, Humphries. Subs: Pert, Jackson, M George.
HISTON RESERVES 2-2 BLOATERS
League, Sat. 27th Sept.
Yarmouth started strongly, earning a couple of corners in the opening minutes. The first real chance of the game fell to the Bloaters after four minutes when Adcock tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area and saw his effort go just wide.
Gilmore, looking sharp down the left, continued the opening pressure on Histon and his volley on the turn went screaming over the bar.
Histon Res, who have yet to earn a home point this season, were looking vulnerable at the back, and it all fell apart for them at 13 minutes when Adcock raced through for a one-on-one with the home keeper and coolly slotted the ball home.
Histon came more into the game and a splendid free-kick from Willis was headed just over the Yarmouth bar by the impressive Smith.
Yarmouth rallied to the club's call for more effort and they went further ahead on 44 minutes when Howes scored with a well-placed 25-yard shot which the home keeper, who was caught off his line, could only touch into the net.
The game changed five minutes into the second half when Kennett scored an excellent goal from the edge of the area. Yarmouth then came under pressure for the first time in the match.
Yarmouth survived as a telling centre was headed just wide by Smith. Howes had the ball in the net but his effort was disallowed for offside. Histon equalised on 80 minutes when Smith, their man-of-the-match, scored with a well-placed right foot shot. [AF]
Yarmouth put on a below-par performance in losing at Mildenhall. Never an easy place to win at the best of times, the Bloaters lacked spirit and teamwork on this occasion and were well-beaten by a goal in each half. Mildenhall always had the edge and looked fitter and quicker to the ball. Yarmouth created few chances and the home keeper must have caught a chill in the freezing air.
Mildenhall played down the slope in the first half and it was nearly one-way traffic. Hall took the lead after 20 minutes when Pert was unable to latch on to Gilmore's defensive pass allowing Paynter the opportunity to swing the ball towards the far post where it crept in off the upright.
Barker managed Yarmouth's first on-target shot of the night in the 36th minute but it went straight through to Banthorpe. The Yarmouth defence somehow avoided further breaches despite scrambles in their area.
The Bloaters emerged unscathed from another scrambling attack after 53 minutes but five minutes later it was 2-0: the Yarmouth defence looked for an offside which didn't come, allowing Taylor to advance wide of the area and cross to Hobbs who shot low between Cooper and his right-hand post.
Pierpoint immediately came on and got himself booked six minutes later for saying something out of turn; it was his fifth caution in as many games, meaning a suspension is imminent. Howes had a shot that was not too far away after 72 minutes then Cooper produced a great save at the expense of a corner. Howes then forced Banthorpe into a hurried clearance and from the corner the home keeper pushed away substitute Adcock's cross.
Mildenhall could have made it 3-0 in the dying minutes but Spearing kept his cool, and the ball. George had a couple of late chances but Yarmouth ended a poor second-best.
In the proverbial game of two halves, Yarmouth won through to the First Round Proper thanks to a goal scored in the first half by Stewart Barker, his first for the club.
Several changes to the side were made: Thompson missed his first game of the season with an ankle problem, while Shade was again suffering from his Achilles injury. In came newly re-signed Mario Davids who took Drake's place, while Barker replaced Pierpoint. Humphreys and Howes returned to the line-up while Cooper continued in goal, with Nick Banham amongst the 50 or so spectators.
The first half belonged to Yarmouth and they could and should have had more than the one goal. That they did not was more down to their own failings than the ability of the hosts. However, the playing surface was hard and bouncy with first time control difficult.
Pert and George put in early runs that took good tackles to stop, then when George did get away down the right, from Davids pass, his low hard shot flew across the face of the goal without anyone getting a touch. Cooper had hardly touched the ball before Yarmouth took the lead after 15 minutes play. From a throw in on the right, Vincent headed towards the penalty area and Barker arrived to shoot low through a crowd of players past home keeper Steve Spruels.
Bugbrooke retaliated with a couple of shots then Cooper pushed Frost's shot behind for the first corner of the game. New had a shot go over then needed treatment for a fall on the rock-hard surface. Yarmouth returned to the attack and a barrage of shots failed to find the net on 25 minutes, Georges cross-shot finally hitting the far post.
Davids' pace on the right was giving the home defence problems and taking a return pass from Howes after 31 minutes he looked to be through but a firm tackle stopped the move although Davids' run took him almost into the perimeter hedge! Gilmore, playing up front with Howes, also looked a likely match-winner with his jinking runs but he too foundered in the final third. The young Bugbrooke side were playing with spirit and attacked when they could but when they did get past the commanding Vincent the final shot was just not up to beating Cooper.
Howes, Gilmore, Pert and George all had further efforts before the break but Yarmouth couldn't break through again.
How different was the second half. Yarmouth started as if they meant to finish it but soon it was Bugbrooke who dictated play and the Bloaters hardly had a look-in. The Badgers did get the ball in the net but the whistle had gone for handball against a home player.
It had not been a dirty game although some of the referee's decisions had players from both sides puzzled. Then, midway through the half, the referee sensationally sent Yarmouth manager Paul Tong from the technical area, presumably for something he had said, but allowed him to stand behind the nearby railing. It turned out later the referee told Tong it was for "irresponsible behaviour".
Yarmouth took a break from defending for Gilmore to latch onto Howes chested down pass but the bounce took the ball away from him, then Davids won a corner but Spruels made a comfortable catch. Pierpoint replaced Pert as the Yarmouth defence looked in need of shoring up but the substitute went up the other end and the home keeper earned himself a lecture from the referee for a challenge on Pierpoint, though a free kick had already been awarded Bugbrooke.
Davids conceded a corner with a sliced attempted clearance but Andy Spruels headed attempt was picked up by Cooper at the foot of a post. Howes and Frost then had a minor confrontation with each other and the referee considered more intervention was needed. Another free header brought a flying save from the overworked Cooper.
Adcock replaced George in the 78th minute, but the referee was in danger of stealing the show by booking both Davids and Pierpoint, presumably for not retreating sufficiently, before a Bugbrooke free kick could be taken. Moments later Gilmore incurred the referee's displeasure and was booked after an innocuous tackle from which the "victim" immediately got up, both players quite happy to shake hands. In the final minute, Gilmore sent a peach of a pass through to Adcock but the keeper was just first to the ball, and the match ended with Yarmouth going into the draw for the next round.
Tong later said he might consider an appeal against his "punishment" when he had seen the referee's report.
Yarmouth slipped to a disappointing second successive home defeat to old Norfolk rivals Diss Town. With players injured or unavailable, changes were made to the line-up: with Nick Banham unavailable Sean Cooper came on for his first game since signing recently, Michael Shade was again missing, Neil Adcock made his first start of the season in place of Paul Thompson who went on the bench, Martin Pert took Kevin Howes place at No. 10, and Stewart Baker started at No. 11 in place of Lee Humphreys who was also on the bench. Kevin Winkworth was recalled from the Reserves squad for the third substitutes place.
It all started so well for Yarmouth. Cooper saw some early action plucking out a free kick, then saving a shot from Coren Hardy before Robert George gave the Bloaters a 15th minute lead guiding a header inside the post from Adcock's cross. At this stage Yarmouth were playing some delightful passing football against one of the probable contenders for the League title.
Gary Gilmore excelled on the left and several times left Leighton Miller for dead, but Miller had the last laugh when he scored the equaliser, heading in Andy Key's 28th minute corner. From this point on Diss began to exert some authority on the game and the longer it went on the more likely they looked to score.
A succession of Diss corners put Yarmouth under a lot of pressure at the start of the second half. Yarmouth were lucky to survive what looked a certain penalty for handball by Jody Harrison as the referee waved away the Diss appeals. Bookings for George and Grant Pierpoint did not help Yarmouths cause. Gilmore again looked the Yarmouth player most likely to cause Diss problems: a super run after 70 minutes ended with a high cross that evaded everyone and then after intercepting a pass by Lewis Blois and bearing down on goal he saw his shot blocked.
However, it was the Tangerines that were to notch the winning goal when on 77 minutes Jopling squeezed in Hardy's cross at the far post. Thompson came on for Yarmouth and almost had a half chance from a long ball but Diss keeper Nathan Pauling snatched it off his head as he was about to make contact.
"Disappointing, yes," said manager Tong, "but with a number of players missing it doesn't help. Credit to the players who came in though, they did well in the first half but Diss controlled the second. I thought we'd done enough to hold out but then Jopling struck, as he will given half a chance. The new 'keeper, Sean Cooper, did quite well with some excellent saves but he will be disappointed with their first goal from the corner."
"I thought we defended well, except for the goal," said manager Tong after the local derby match; "it was disappointing of course but in the end the best team on the night won the game. It was an excellent strike by Danny Self. Our players gave everything but on the night it was just not quite enough - I felt for them."
The game was decided in the 83rd minute when Self lashed home a free kick from out on the left of the pitch. Until then it had looked all over a 0-0 draw. Yarmouth missed the best chance of the night when Kevin Howes put a six-yard header onto the bar. The move had been created by Gilmore whose crossfield pass after only five minutes found George on the right: Howes could only watch in despair as his header from Georges' cross rebounded off the woodwork.
However, Yarmouth had another chance after 13 minutes with a corner; again George was involved taking the kick which beat everybody and hit the foot of the far post before bouncing away from goal. Had either chance gone in it would have been a different game with Lowestoft chasing it., but it was not to be and Lowestoft drew inspiration from their good fortune. They had the ball in the Yarmouth net after 20 minutes but McGee had handled it from Payne's cross. Banham saved a piledriver of a shot at the expense of a corner, then the Yarmouth goal survived a scramble from the place kick.
Yarmouth came back and Howes headed straight at the Blues keeper then a back header from Payne almost let Thompson in but Hitcham just beat the former Lowestoft striker to the ball. After 35 minutes a Pierpoint free kick was saved by Hitcham, then Howes hit a shot over the top. However, these instances apart, Yarmouth were well contained by a Lowestoft defence in which former Bloater Saunders was dominant. Yarmouth fell foul of Saunders head all too often as they pumped the ball high into the Lowestoft half.
It was Lowestoft's turn to hit the foot of the post after 55 minutes with Spearing saving any possible follow-up by booting clear. Both teams adopted similar tactics of aiming long balls at the front two but Lowestoft were the more accurate and held the ball up better. A Hilton 30-yard shot was spilled by Banham, but collected at the second attempt and Stokeld had a couple of efforts go close.
George became frustrated at his colleagues inablilty to produce anything up front and decided to have a go himself but twice he was thwarted by strong defences. With a draw looking ever more likely, Self, who was in Yarmouth colours last season, took a needlessly conceded free kick and placed it perfectly for the winner.
"OK, we lost, yes," commented Tong, "but we're coming along. Look, 18 months ago they came here and annihilated us 4-0: last year we got a draw, but tonight was just not our night."
FA Carlsberg Vase 1st Qualifying Round, Sat. 6th Sept.
The Bloaters partially made up for last week's disappointing FA Cup exit by winning their first match in the national competition they are more likely to make significant progress in.
The only goal came five minutes from the interval when some nimble footwork in the Brackley area by Gary Gilmore gave the former Fakenham player some space to send the ball to the near post were it was met firmly by the oncoming Rob George's head.
Gilmore, given a free role by manager Paul Tong, created all sorts of problems for the home side who compete in the same league as Southall Town, Yarmouth's victims in the FA Cup televised match. But he was just beaten to the man of the match award by Kevin Howes who put in a prodigious amount of work up front, holding the ball up and laying it off. His strike partner "Pongo" Thompson (mysteriously now renamed by his team colleagues as Pingo), despite a couple of close-range headers, again failed to trouble the scorers but it was not for want of "heart": manager Tong is keeping faith with the man he brought back to the Wellesley for his scoring prowess as it must be remembered Thompson has had nearly a whole season out of the game through injury and is still finding his form again.
Michael Shade returned after his recent back injury; he took the suspended Jodie Harrison's place in defence and resumed his captain's role from Tony Spearing who continues to enjoy the game and showed his commitment by saying it was a great day for Yarmouth Town FC.
Grant Pierpoint also returned after a one match absence and made his presence felt in midfield where he had been sadly missed in the defeat by Berkhamsted. Fellow-midfielder Nathan Drake matched him for effort and rarely put a foot wrong, but it was a team effort and everyone got stuck in.
Brackley had their best period in the first half: an Eldridge header after only five minutes was not far away and they did get the ball in the net in the 23rd minute but scorer Prescott was offside: however, Nick Banham in goal was equal to everything, perhaps mindful of the potential threat presented to his position by the recent signing of Sean Cooper, the former Gorleston keeper.
In the second half Brackley faded away and Yarmouth looked for more goals. The hosts left huge gaps in the middle in their search for an equaliser, but Yarmouth were unable to capitalise. Pierpoint moved up to have three shots in not many more seconds, but each was blocked. Thompson fired wildly over from six yards though he was adjudged offside anyway. Gilmore similarly hit over then worked a 1-2 in the area with substitute Martin Pert but the shot was just wide. Stewart Barker came on and contributed some telling crosses while a Howes header from a Lee Humphreys ball inside was also just wide of the mark as Yarmouth kept on the pressure. Brackley threatened rarely and despite a couple of late corners the Hellenic League side were unable to breakdown a resolute Bloaters defence led once again by the near-legendary Mark Vincent.
Yarmouth now visit nearby Bugbrooke St Michaels next Saturday.
Yarmouth - Banham, Shade, Spearing, Drake, Vincent, Pierpoint, Gilmore, George R, Thompson, Howes, Humphreys. Subs: Barker, Pert, George M n/u.
BLOATERS 0-1 BERKHAMSTED
FA Cup Preliminary Round, Sat. 30th Aug.
Despite a strong second half comeback, Yarmouth were unable to score against the FA Vase winners of two years ago and went out to a goal scored just before half time.
Yarmouth really didn't get to grips with the game before the break and had only one shot on goal, aneffort from Drake that narrowly missed by the right-hand post.
Skipper Shade was again missing, though on the bench, and Vincent again stood in; Spearing was again captain for the day, and Gilmore returned to the starting line-up having recovered from an injury picked up in the previous round.
Berkhamsted, with a strong breeze behind them, dominated most of the first half and Banham produced several smart saves to thwart the visitors; on the two occasions he missed the save, Spearing and Barker came to the rescue with goal-line clearances.
The only goal of the game came after 41 minutes when Hammond picked up a pass on the edge of the Yarmouth area and fired in a shot low to Banham's left, the ball somehow eluding the keeper and entering the net by the post.
Yarmouth were pre-match favourites and after the break lived up to that billing with a much better performance though without finding the back of the net. A Howes header went narrowly wide after 54 minutes and Yarmouth began to put some promising moves together. Hughes headed narrowly over to concede a corner which Turnham did well to tip over for a second.
Visiting keeper Turnham had to make some magnificent saves to keep the Bloaters out but when Shade came on he should have done better than head into the keeper's arms from six yards out, the chance created by George's throw which was flicked on by Thompson to the far post. A Humphreys free kick from the D drew another good save from Turnham, then with five minutes to go a terrific scramble in the Berkhamsted goal area ended with Turnham beating out a low shot.
Berkhamsted had lost most of their side with the manager in the summer and the new signings are still getting to know each other so they must have been as surprised as anybody to win an attractive tie against AFC Sudbury in the 1st Qualifying Round in two weeks.
Two goals in a minute midway in the second half settled this match in the Bloaters favour but there should have been several more scores as both sides contrived to miss some easy chances. The game could have ended up 6-3 but George (73) and Howes (74) finally nailed a very young Ghosts side that looks to have a hard season ahead.
Yarmouth looked very fluent and mobile and frequently changed their formation as they searched for a way to break down some stubborn resistance. It was 20 minutes before the first real goalmouth excitement, then Drake's cross appeared to be in the net but had landed on the roof instead. Referee Kett made a couple of what seemed unnecessary bookings, one from each side, then Yarmouth began to get on top towards the end of the first half with some superb build-up play but without the finish. However it was the hosts who came nearest to scoring when a Robinson shot hit the post right on half time.
Adcock and Pert replaced Barker and Spearing at half time and on 56 minutes Adcock deserved to score but his shot was deflected for a corner. This led to another corner but confusion in the Fakenham defence was not capitalised on. As the Yarmouth corner count mounted - it was 12 by the hour mark - it was beginning to look like last season revisited, especially when Thompson's header came back off the bar. Adcock then missed a "sitter" when he looked certain to score, miscuing the ball wide.
Fakenham's only attack of the half so far came in the 70th minute with a free kick and the subsequent corner from which they made an amazing miss just to join in the fun! But Yarmouth then resumed the attack and after a shot was partially cleared George rammed the ball home. It was no more than the Bloaters deserved and a minute later Howes gave the scoreline some semblance of reality with the second goal when he stabbed home from close range.
Thompson was immediately substituted and Darby came on as Yarmouth looked to preserve the clean sheet. Not that the Bloaters went totally defensive - Drake saw his 30 yard effort produce a flying save from young home keeper Nicholls and with two minutes remaining on the clock Adcock lifted another shot over the bar. The substitute was thus unable to continue his run of scores after coming off the bench.
Warm sunshine and an extra large crowd greeted the teams as they took to the field in front of BBC television cameras who were there to record the start of this year's FA Cup competition for "Football Focus."
Not expecting to be a major player this season, 40-year old Mark Vincent received a surprise recall for his 628th game for the club after new captain Micky Shade had to call off with a back injury, Tony Spearing taking the captains armband for the match.
The start of the game was delayed briefly so as to coincide with the television schedule. Then the honour of scoring the first goal of the 2003-2004 FA Cup went to new Yarmouth signing Paul "Pongo" Thompson; after some 23 minutes, Southall keeper Miles punched out a centre from Lee Humphreys, Howes backheaded onto the bar and Thompson followed up to toepoke the ball past Miles with the ball taking a touch off the diving keeper.
After Southall saw a fierce Gardiner effort rebound from the Yarmouth bar, Humphreys put the Bloaters 2-0 ahead from the spot in the 37th minute after Howes had been felled by Miles while chasing a throughball from George.
It had been an impressive first half from the Bloaters who now have the players for a passing game; Gary Gilmore performed some magic in midfield, while Nick Banham covered himself in glory with a couple of superb saves, one a flying header from A Keane.
HALF TIME 2-0
Gilmore was, sadly, substituted at the interval suffering from a back injury, Stewart Barker replacing him. Rob George nearly made it three after 58 minutes, winning the ball in a 50-50 with Miles, but the ball ran just too far ahead of him. Then Thompson almost grabbed his second but Miles parried then fell on his shot from Pierpoints centre.
Adcock replaced Pierpoint after 62 minutes and was immediately booked for a foul. However, the substitute was to prove a thorn in the Southall flesh and his next piece of action was to advance into the visitors box only to be apparently felled, but no action was taken by referee Wade.
Southall received a rude shock when they lost the experienced Meaker to a red card for attempting to headbutt Harrison in the 72nd minute but they pulled one back from the corner that followed, Glynn heading in.
However, that man Adcock could not be kept out of the picture and in the 78th minute he scored his third in three games, all as substitute, after taking the ball wide of Miles right hand post and slotting past the keeper.
Rob George then came up with another of his spectacular runs from deep and, taking a similar path to Adcock, rounded Miles for a wonderful goal to wrap up the day for Yarmouth with 88 minutes on the clock. George was then replaced by Darby for the few minutes of added time but the game was sealed and Yarmouth look forward to entertaining Berkhamstead Town - and of course BBC TV once again - next Saturday!
Super-sub Neil Adcock cracked home a late winner for the Bloaters on Wednesday night. The nippy forward came off the bench to convert a chance created by Pongo Thompson to complete a comeback after the Magpies had taken a 20th minute lead through Neil Simmonds' curling free kick. The ball hit one post, and the inside of the other before trickling over the line.
Yarmouth lost Micky Shade after eight minutes with a recurring back injury which could be a blow to Saturday's FA Cup chances.
The second half saw Yarmouth play good passing football and creating chances. Thompson smacked one header against the bar and Grant Pierpoint went close from long-range.
Last season's leading scorer Robert George equalised in the 51st minute, the chance created by Thompson. [AF]
In the first match of the new Ridgeons League season, the Bloaters out-played their hosts for long periods and it could have gone either way until late in the game.
Bury had clear-cut chances and Yarmouth had keeper Nick Banham to thank for a couple of point-blank saves from Eady and defender Grant Pierpoint cleared the ball off the line.
The Bloaters paraded their three new signings, Tony Spearing, Gary Gilmore and Paul "Pongo" Thompson and all had excellent games. Spearing has added a touch of real class to the defence and his desire to play football from the back is infectious.
Gilmore was the inspiration throughout, twisting and turning Bury's defence and Thompson will be the answer to Yarmouth's scoring problems despite failing to find the net in this match.
Yarmouth pegged Bury back in the first 20 minutes with Kevin Howes seeing his close-range effort well saved. Banham then came to the rescue as Bury came into the game with two fine saves in quick succession from Eady.
The game swung back Yarmouth's way when Thompson and skipper Micky Shade had well-struck shots saved. Hungry for the action, Shade had more shots on target than any of his colleagues.
Yarmouth's second half persistence should have brought early rewards but Shade was guilty of the miss of the match, lofting the ball over the bar from two yards.
It was a shock when Bury took the lead, a simple goal that shook the Bloaters rigid. Ex-Colchester United player McGavin turned the defence and chipped a perfect ball for Collins to head home.
Yarmouth kept their new passing game going. Nathan Drake was having an excellent day in midfield with Gilmore who was often a sheer joy to watch. It was a touch of Gilmore magic that paved the way for the equaliser.
His through ball under pressure sent substitute Neil Adcock clear to score from the edge of the box with a cracking right-foot shot with two minutes remaining. [AF]