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Non-League round-up: Stowmarket Town bounce back in title fight while Felixstowe & Walton United keep play-off hopes alive ahead of pair's key Suffolk derby



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Following two frustrating home draws in four days last week, Stowmarket Town boss Paul Musgrove had refused to accept their Pitching In Isthmian League North Division title race was run – despite having slipped to seven points behind Aveley with a game in hand but just five to play.

And his optimism looks like it could be well served with the Old Gold & Blacks having now reduced that gap to four points with that game in hand to come at Felixstowe & Walton United tomorrow evening (full midweek fixtures below).

Leaders Aveley rekindled third-placed Stowmarket's spirits after suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Hashtag United on Friday evening which came via Jermaine Francis' 72nd minute winner.

Stowmarket Town players were left celebrating an impressive goal from Chris Casement, like they are pictured doing so at AFC Sudbury earlier this year, at Witham Town on Saturday Picture: Mecha Morton
Stowmarket Town players were left celebrating an impressive goal from Chris Casement, like they are pictured doing so at AFC Sudbury earlier this year, at Witham Town on Saturday Picture: Mecha Morton

At relegation-threatened Witham Town on Saturday, Stowmarket duly took full advantage by bouncing back with a 2-1 victory secured with two first-half goals.

There was no doubt which was the pick of them with Bermudan international Reggie Lambe stepping up to the plate in the absence of his suspended countryman Willie Clemons. He fired in a rocket from 40 yards out on the left on the quarter-of-an-hour mark.

Former Ipswich Town player Chris Casement had doubled the advantage with his own 20-yard screamer on the stroke of half-time.

With Witham putting on the pressure in the second period, Tom Bullard thought he had cleared Amaree Robinson-Jones' 65th minute effort off the line only to see the referee's assistant award it.

It was an uncomfortable last 25 minutes for Musgrove's side who ended up indebted to some great saves from goalkeeper James Bradbrook for a first win in five.

Canvey Island remain second and two points ahead of them though, having played a game more, following an incredible 13-0 scoreline at home to bottom side Romford with Bradley Sach scoring five goals.

Felixstowe & Walton United remain in with a shout of a late charge into the play-off places ahead of tomorrow's Suffolk derby following their 2-1 win at Barking.

Josh Hitter put them ahead in the 26th minute before Walsham-le-Willows dual registered striker Kieran Twinn doubled the Seasiders' advantage 10 minutes into the second half before a late converted penalty set up a nervy finish.

It makes it back-to-back wins for Stuart Boardley's side and leaves them in eighth place, tied on points with the two sides above them whom they hold a game in hand over. The gap to the magical sixth spot is five points but again, they have played a game less.

AFC Sudbury's play-off race was already over but they helped Felixstowe out by taking three points off sixth-placed Maldon & Tiptree in an impressive 3-0 away win.

Having to borrow the Jammers' away strip for the game, their three goals came within a punishing early 10-minute spell in the second half for the hosts.

After youngster Josh Stokes had put the Yellows ahead in the 52nd minute, former Colchester United man Marley Andrews helped himself to a four-minute brace (59', 62') before Alfie Stronge denied the hosts' Shad Ngandu from the penalty spot.

Adam Hampson opens the scoring for Halstead Town against play-off rival Burnham Ramblers Picture: Mark Westley
Adam Hampson opens the scoring for Halstead Town against play-off rival Burnham Ramblers Picture: Mark Westley

England Colleges FA goalkeeper Josh Blunkell entered the outfield action for the final 10 minutes as a substitute for Jake Turner.

It leaves Sudbury 10th and 11 points off the play-off places while they are 10 points above the side two places lower than them, Bury Town who lost 3-1 at home to Tilbury in a mid-table clash.

In front of a crowd registered at 472 at Ram Meadow, the returning Olly Hughes put them ahead in the seventh minute after chasing down a long ball but the visitors levelled from the penalty spot in the 28th minute.

Halstead Town's Calvin Poku heads home a third goal for his side in their key encounter with Burnham Ramblers Picture: Mark Westley
Halstead Town's Calvin Poku heads home a third goal for his side in their key encounter with Burnham Ramblers Picture: Mark Westley

Two goals inside the last 18 minutes saw Tilbury walk off with the three points though, meaning Ben Chenery's side have only picked up four points from their last six matches.

Across in the Pitching In Northern Premier League Midlands Division, Soham Town Rangers dropped to the bottom of the table following a 2-0 home defeat to mid-table Spalding United coupled with Wisbech Town's big 5-1 victory at relegation rivals Histon.

That result for third bottom Histon means the Greens, who conceded early in each half (Sam Cartwright 12', Liam Adams 47') remain four points adrift of the relegation/promotion play-off spot with three games now left.

Up a level in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central, Leiston now have a 10-point advantage over Needham Market in the race to finish as Suffolk's top non-league side.

The telling moment in the Blues' trip to Redditch United – their last away fixture of the campaign – came mid-way into the first half as captain Seb Dunbar slotted home across goal from Brendan Ocran's ball.

A second successive 1-0 victory for Darren Eadie and Chris Wilders' charges leaves them in seventh and six points off the play-offs ahead of two home matches but with those around them holding a game in hand.

Needham Market reside in 11th following a 1-0 defeat at 15th-placed Bromsgrove Sporting, Kevin Horlock's side being ultimately unable to reply to a fourth-minute header despite a positive response to it.

Another frustrating afternoon for bottom side Lowestoft Town means their relegation is all but confirmed with four games to go and an eight-point gap to the relegation/promotion play-off place.

Jamie Godbold's side knew three points at home to mid-table Tamworth was realistically a must and looked on course for it when Josh Harvey put them ahead in the 76th minute.

But as has been the case too many times this season, it was a lead they were not able to hold on to with an 87th minute equaliser, in front of a crowd of 364, leaving them with just a point to show from their last four matches.

Down two levels, in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, a 1-0 win for Brantham Athletic at Thetford Town, courtesy of Jack Madley's 75th minute goal following a corner, saw them move out of the relegation zone.

Long Melford are the side who drop back in following a 1-1 home draw with a mid-table Kirkley & Pakefield side who had won their last six games on the bounce. The hosts had still been minus Jamie Griffiths and Ross Waugh through illness and David Lopez via a knee injury.

George Baker's 25-yard deflected strike had given the visitors the lead but skipper Jacob Brown deservedly headed them level from George Day's free kick.

Melford keeper Matt Walker made two excellent saves to get them in half-time level while a strong penalty call was rejected by the referee.

In the second half home defender Dan Smith cleared a Jack Herbert header off the line while Melford two golden chances to win it but substitute Callum Hemson was thwarted by two fantastic saves from Jordan Smith.

Kirkley's attention now turns to tomorrow evening's county cup semi-final against Needham Market (see fixtures below).

Tom Baird scores what proved to be Diss Town's only goal in their final game home defeat against Great Yarmouth Town Picture: Mark Bullimore
Tom Baird scores what proved to be Diss Town's only goal in their final game home defeat against Great Yarmouth Town Picture: Mark Bullimore

Like Brantham, Haverhill Rovers are two points above Melford with three games to go but above the former courtesy of goal difference, following late heartbreak left them with nothing to show from a 2-1 defeat at title-chasing Wroxham.

Callum Olpin had put the Yachtsmen ahead early on but a spirited response from Rovers finally got its reward on the hour mark with recent expereinced addition Kyan Gulliver seeing his free kick beat Ollie Sutton.

The latter made some key saves to keep the hosts level before the majority of the 200 crowd were left wildly celebrating a 93rd minute winner with Chris Skipper poking home after being found unmarked following a half-cleared free kick.

Mildenhall Town were not in action but the late Wroxham goal ends their faint hopes of the second automatic promotion spot. The Yachtsmen now being nine points ahead of the side below them with three games to go but with a 32 better goal difference.

Tom Baird celebrates scoring what proved to be nothing more than a consolation strike for Diss Town Picture: Mark Bullimore
Tom Baird celebrates scoring what proved to be nothing more than a consolation strike for Diss Town Picture: Mark Bullimore

Newmarket Town (9th) had sealed a long-awaited derby victory over Mildenhall on Tuesday but they were unable to follow up the points, falling to a 1-0 defeat at now sixth-placed Fakenham Town.

The only goal of the game came via an Ash Jarvis header from a 15th minute corner with a plucky defensive display after the break, for a fifth straight clean sheet, frustrating the Jockeys.

Two goals from Joel Glover and one for Max Tate saw Hadleigh United (14th) claim an impressive 3-2 victory at fifth-placed Norwich United which sees Steve Holder's men mathematically confirm their place in the division next season with three games to spare.

Halstead Town players celebrate one of Adam Hampson's two first-half goals against Burnham Ramblers Picture: Mark Westley
Halstead Town players celebrate one of Adam Hampson's two first-half goals against Burnham Ramblers Picture: Mark Westley

Either Whitton United (15th) – who lost 4-1 at home to leaders Gorleston having led through Ronaldo Wright – or Thetford Town (16th) can do so with a victory over the other at Mundford Road on Saturday.

Elsewhere, mid-table Woodbirdge Town drew 2-2 at fourth-placed Mulbarton Wanderers while Friday evening's fixture saw Lakenheath romp to a 5-1 home win over Ely City. Kane Manels took the match ball with a hat-trick while Shaun Avis and Sam Peters were also on target, leaving them one place above their opponents in 12th.

Down a level in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South, a last-minute winner from George Mrozek maintained Ipswich Wanderers' two-point advantage over Buckhurst Hill at the summit in a 2-1 victory at Holland FC. Both sides have three games remaining which includes their re-arranged game in Essex tomorrow evening.

Halstead Town's second straight home win over a play-off occupier saw them leapfrog opponents Burnham Ramblers into the top five with a 4-2 victory in front of another 200-plus crowd at The Milbank Stadium.

Read more about that match via our report from Saturday evening here.

Second bottom Haverhill Borough lost 3-1 at home to Wormley Rovers with substitute Ryan Kent scoring their goal.

It leaves Peter Betts' side – whose manager is relaxed about their relegation prospects despite the potential for three sides to go down – with next to no chance of catching third bottom Newbury Forest ahead of their final two matches.

AFC Sudbury Reserves are 15th following a 2-2 home draw with Frenford which saw Jack Palmer and Dylan Gee on target.

Across in the First Division North, Harleston Town remain a point clear of title rivals Sheringham, who have played a game less, as they matched the latter's victory over play-off chasing Whittlesey Athletic with a 4-0 scoreline at second bottom FC Parson Drove.

Matt Cook put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute before Ryan Crisp's header doubled their advantage early in the second half.

Sam Last's 62nd minute deflected cross made it three with the fourth arriving three minutes later. Nathan Stone flicked the ball over a defender before providing a fine finish for the fourth.

Harleston have one game remaining, at home to Needham Market Reserves on Saturday - with the third bottom side having won 3-0 at home to UEA courtsey of goals from Brandon Greenleaf, Ben Harris and Euan Shepherd. But all eyes will be on Sheringham's home game with UEA tomorrow, which would see them go above them for the final day if they avoid losing against the eighth-placed side.

The defeat for Whittlesey Athletic, meanwhile, meant Framlingham Town – who were sitting out having played a game more – remain in the last play-off spot on goal difference ahead of their last fixture, at mid-table Great Yarmouth Town on Saturday.

Diss Town (12th) are one of two sides to have completed their fixtures, but they signed off with a fifth straight defeat, losing 2-1 to Great Yarmouth Town.

Diss Town's Adam Bennett can't manage to get his head on the ball in the Great Yarmouth Town penalty box Picture: Mark Bullimore
Diss Town's Adam Bennett can't manage to get his head on the ball in the Great Yarmouth Town penalty box Picture: Mark Bullimore

It means Mark Sutcliffe and Matt Coote's side, who had been chasing a play-off place at the turn of the year, could finish as low as second bottom if the three sides immediately below them can overturn up to two points between them.

The side immediately below the Tangerines on goal difference, Debenham LC, continued a mixed bag of recent form with a 3-1 defeat at seventh-placed Huntingdon Town. Lewis Smy had levelled an early opener by getting on the end of Luke Dunn's 14th-minute free kick.

Elsewhere in the division, Leiston Reserves (10th) won a high-scoring contest at home to play-off spot occupiers Norwich CBS 4-3 with Nyan Mesuria ending with a brace.

It has been a painful end of the season for Diss Town joint managers Matt Coote and Mark Sutcliffe Picture: Mark Bullimore
It has been a painful end of the season for Diss Town joint managers Matt Coote and Mark Sutcliffe Picture: Mark Bullimore

Midweek fixtures (kick-offs 7.45pm unless otherwise stated)

Tuesday, April 12

Pitching In Isthmian League North Division

Felixstowe & Walton United vs Stowmarket Town

Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final

Kirkley & Pakefield vs Needham Market (at Leiston FC)

Thurlow Nunn League First Division North

Needham Market Reserves vs Debenham LC