Yarmouth – 1 Elliot Pride, 2 Johnny Watts, 3 Ollie Savage, 4 Gareth Palmer, 5 Adey
Sager, 6 Alan Darby, 7 Darren Lamb, 8 Adam Sullivan (c), 9 Stewart Roach, 10 Jake Reed, 11 Scott Woodcock. Subs: 12 Toby Gorbould,
14 Dominic Smith, 15 Liam Bartley, 16 Chris Squire, 17 Michael Hilton.
Thetford – 1 Ross Bilham,
2 Lee Brewer, 3 Lee Devlin, 4 Sam Giacomelli, 5 Simon Jackson, 6 David Richards (c), 7 Sam Bryant, 8 Simon Mann, 9 Kwame Jones,
10 Greg Devlin, 11 Kamren Senior. Subs: 12 Regan Haynes, 14 Danny Tanti, 15 Matt Howard, 16 Craig Shipp, 17 Cary Clayton.
Referee – Andrew Langsdon
The game opened quietly though there was plenty
of effort in the hot autumn sunshine. Yarmouth showed first when a long ball out of defence found Lamb in a chase for the
ball with Thetford ‘keeper Bilham who was the winner and his big clearance found Mann who was fouled with the free kick
Yarmouth won the game’s first corner after 12 minutes when Bilham dropped a Roach long throw and from
Woodcock’s kick Palmer rose to send a header fractionally over. A minute later Thetford had the ball in the net but
a visiting player was offside. Thetford then won three consecutive corners but didn’t trouble Pride who ended the sequence
with a high catch.
The visitors were giving Yarmouth plenty to think about and were to some extent bossing the game as the Bloaters allowed
them space to run. Jones provided plenty of enterprise on the Thetford left and the Brecklanders defence looked very secure.
Thetford took the lead after 26 minutes when
Brewer sent a good ball down the right wing and from Bryant’s cross Jones headed down for Senior who
delivered an accurate low ball into the net. Thetford won a corner after 29 minutes and from the attempted clearance Giacomelli
was allowed a shot which however went wide.
Yarmouth had not threatened the Thetford goal
for some time, then Roach tried to deliver a cross from the corner flag but this
fell behind the goal, and the same player was then offside in going for a long Lamb cross. Devlin then headed wide off another
Thetford corner in the 33rd minute. The visitors were finding their men better and nearly went further ahead but
Mann, having been put through, shot straight at Pride who saved with his feet.
Bryant headed wide before Yarmouth
were presented with a golden opportunity to claw back the goal when, in the 44th minute, Jackson fell on the ball in the area and was adjudged to have handled it in the act. The
normally lethal Roach stepped up to the spot but put his kick wide of Bilham’s right hand post.
Devlin then saw his shot tipped over by the busy
Yarmouth replaced the injured Savage with the returned Dominic Smith at half time and rejigged the formation.
The changes produced a different Yarmouth who went at Thetford
from the restart. Roach made space for a Sullivan shot but this rolled harmlessly wide. Then Woodcock took a pass from Roach
and headed for goal but was ushered wide from where his angled ball was put out for a corner.
However, the equaliser was not long in coming.
Smith put Roach in but his shot brought a magnificent save from Bilham at the expense of a corner from which Sullivan,
lurking on the edge of the area, sent a screaming shot past the Thetford custodian after 52 minutes. It was the captain’s
long-awaited first goal for the Bloaters, and a well-deserved one.
As Yarmouth continued to dictate the half, a Lamb pass intended for Roach was intercepted by Bilham who was having plenty to
do in contrast to Pride who was now underemployed after his busy first period. Roach then connected with a through ball and
passed to Woodcock whose shot brought a low save out of Bilham for another home corner from which Palmer’s back header
at the near post flew narrowly over.
Yarmouth were then awarded a second penalty in the 61st minute after Roach went down under challenge
from Bilham who was booked. Astoundingly, Roach missed again, but while the effort was on target this time the 18-year old
Bilham pulled off a great save low down near the post. The ball bobbled about for a few seconds before being put out for yet
another Yarmouth corner at which Bilham was fouled to bring
him some relief.
rejuvenated performance continued as Ager headed over from another Woodcock corner. Ager was then back in his own area as
Thetford mounted a rare attack and a good tackle robbed Jones right on the by-line. Watt’s lofted pass found Roach’s
head but his placed header was taken by Bilham in front of the back post. A towering header from Palmer then cleared a Thetford
attack though a corner was then conceded which saw Pride make a confident catch.
Bartley replaced the hard-working but out-of-luck
Reed and the substitute was thwarted by Bilham in his first move. A big clearance from Pride found Woodcock who won a corner
which Bilham pushed onto the bar though a free kick was awarded Thetford anyway.
Thetford were reduced to ten men a quarter of
an hour from the end: Woodcock chased a ball through the middle and as Bilham raced from his area Woodcock went down as the
‘keeper made the clearance. After a discussion with an assistant, the referee showed Bilham another yellow followed
by the inevitable red much to the disgust of the travelling contingent and the Thetford management. Striker Kwame Jones took
over the gloves as Thetford, it seemed, decided to defend what they had. The foul was outside the box so a third penalty anxiety
was prevented at least, and Smith put the free kick high.
The substitute ‘keeper came to make a good
punch out for his first touch, and then seemed to panic as Roach approached, conceding a throw.
Yarmouth scored what proved the winner after 85 minutes, substitute Bartley sparing any Roach blushes by crashing
the ball past Jones from 18 yards: though the ‘keeper got a hand to the ball, the pace carried it through into the far
corner. Thetford won some late corners but Yarmouth
held on for their first home win over the Brecklanders since relegation four years ago.
After the game, the assistant involved in the
sending-off incident said that Bilham had his studs showing when he tackled Woodcock, hence the yellow card.
Match sponsored by Simon Clarke of HW Chartered Accountants.