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Saturday's local football round-up: Needham Market make club history as Haverhill Rovers end barren run, 10-man Walsham-le-Willows strike late for a point while Cornard United hit five and Halstead Town hit eight




Following only a handful of fixtures going ahead last weekend, non-league football in the area came back with a bang this afternoon with 13 sides from Suffolk in action across Steps 3-6.

The biggest game of the day saw Step 3 divisional rivals Needham Market and Leiston finally return from their lockdown 2.0 breaks in a spicy Suffolk derby in Tuesday's re-arranged Buildbase FA Trophy First Round Proper tie.

The fog had scuppered the previous attempt to play the game at Bloomfields in the week but the pitch stood up to the wet conditions well to the delight of a 230 crowd.

Billy Hunt (no9) congratulates Needham Market's Ben Fowkes after his strike gave them the lead in the FA Trophy tie with LeistonPicture: Hannah Parnell (43523262)
Billy Hunt (no9) congratulates Needham Market's Ben Fowkes after his strike gave them the lead in the FA Trophy tie with LeistonPicture: Hannah Parnell (43523262)

And it was the home fans who were celebrating as Kevin Horlock's Needham showed why they are unbeaten in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central so far this season, recording a 2-1 victory.

A fine 13th minute strike from the edge of the area from Ben Fowkes and Jake Dye's 33rd minute finish to Callum Sturgess' inch-perfect low cross put the hosts firmly in the driving seat at the interval.

But despite the Marketmen's dominance a third goal proved elusive with full-back Dye striking the crossbar, as Byron Lawrence had done on the stroke of half-time, while keeper Sam Donkin thwarted them on several occasions.

Needham Market players celebrate Jake Dye's goal, which made it 2-0 against Leiston in the first half Picture: Hannah Parnell (43523264)
Needham Market players celebrate Jake Dye's goal, which made it 2-0 against Leiston in the first half Picture: Hannah Parnell (43523264)

A rare Leiston attack saw them get back in the game when Finlay Barnes' fine footwork and finish inside the area halved the deficit in the 76th minute.

But there was to be no comeback as Needham marched into the second round proper for the first ever time, setting up a long trip west to Vanarama National League North leaders Gloucester City on Tuesday (7.45pm).

And the Marketmen, whose players have dubbed themselves The Meerkats, are the last Suffolk side left standing in the prestigious competition, following Felixstowe & Walton United's 3-0 second round proper defeat at Basdford Untied.

Stuart Boardley's side had brought their game at their higher-league Nottingham hosts forward from Tuesday, but found it a step too far after their midweek heroics to knock out Step 3 Leatherhead.

After promising start, which saw Lamell Howell hit the bar, The Seasiders trailed 1-0 at the break to Stefan Galinski's 31st minute strike.

Two goals in seven minutes in the second half quickly extinguished their chances of another giant killing.

Marcus Marshall doubled the Northern Premier League side's lead in the 71st mintue before Callum Chettle added a third 13 minutes from time.

In the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division four fixtures were played with leaders Wroxham making it 10 wins from 10 games with a 3-2 win at third-placed Brantham Athletic.

The Yachtsmen went into half-time with a 2-1 lead after an early cross was converted by ex-Norwich City man Simon Lappin and James Cooper headed home a corner, sandwhiched between Scott Sloots' equaliser.

Callum Anderson celebrates Haverhill Rovers' second goal in the victory over FC Clacton Picture: Neil Dady (43523749)
Callum Anderson celebrates Haverhill Rovers' second goal in the victory over FC Clacton Picture: Neil Dady (43523749)

A stunning Lappin strike made it 3-1 in the 70th minute before Jack Madley's late penalty set up a grandstand finish, though The Imps could not get themselves a share of the points.

It leaves Michael Brother's Brantham nine points adrift of the leaders.

But second-placed Norwich United remain one point behind Wrxoham, having played a game more, following this afternoon's 1-0 win at Whitton United (15th), courtesy of Shuan Wones' early second half header.

At The New Croft, Haverhill Rovers were finally able to get back to action at the third attempt, thanks to FC Clacton agreeing to switch the match to the adjacent 3G pitch with their grass one still waterlogged.

And Rovers' fans were left with big smiles at the final whistle after seeing their side, who played out the last 20 minutes with 10 men, record only their second victory of the campaign.

A 3-1 scoreline - which ended a miserable run of six straight defeats - saw them move out of the bottom two to 18th in the table, but crucially move to four points clear of bottom side Thetford Town, who hold a game in hand.

Captain Ben Bradley continued his rich vein of form in front of goal this season by firing Rovers into the lead with a fine solo effort while stand-in goalkeeper Finley Iron's fine save ensured it was 1-0 at the break.

Haverhill Rovers Jacob Joseph tracks his man Picture: Neil Dady (43523751)
Haverhill Rovers Jacob Joseph tracks his man Picture: Neil Dady (43523751)

Callum Anderson doubled the hosts' advantage before Jonny Butler was shown a red card for an off-the-ball incident.

But fears of letting their lead slip were extinguished by a fine run and finish from striker Ryan Weaver for 3-0, before the mid-table visitors' stoppage-time consolation from Jordan Lartey.

There was a pay-what-you-want top six clash at the Morrish Stadium as Walsham-le-Willows (6th) hosted Ely City (4th), with the honours ending even in a 1-1 draw.

Walsham, who went into the game off the back of a 2-2 draw at FC Clacton on Tuesday, received a first-half blow with Craig Nurse sent off.

Ely broke the deadlock early in the second half through Josh Townshend's eye-catching fourth goal of the season.

But the plucky Willows kept plugging away and got their reward with an equaliser from Jamie Smith.

Hadleigh United saw their long-awaited return to action thwarted by the wet weather, with a waterlogged Millfield pitch not fit to host Gorleston.

There were six fixtures in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North with the standout fixture seeing promotion hopefuls Lakenheath draw 1-1 at leaders Fakenham Town to move up a place to fifth.

It will have very much felt like a win for Ben Cowling's side though as the equaliser, to reply to a seventh-minute opener, came right at the end of the game through Luke Corbyn.

Mach action from Haverhill Rovers versus FC ClactonPicture: Neil Dady (43523753)
Mach action from Haverhill Rovers versus FC ClactonPicture: Neil Dady (43523753)

Both sides had been reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes, with Cowling saying Heath will be appealing the decision against Dean Grogan, made for being seen to be denying a goalscoring opportunity as the last man.

Ipswich Wanderers were able to take advantage of The Ghosts' dropped points to move to within a point of the summit following a 4-2 success at Needham Market Reserves (16th).

Goals from Matt Blake and Danny Cunningham put Wanderers into a 2-0 lead but Needham's academy side struck either side of the break to make it 2-2.

It was then Cunningham setting up Blake to finish to regain the lead for the visitors before substitute George Mzrozek put the result beyond doubt.

Diss Town's winless run now stands at four games, following a 4-3 home defeat to eighth-placed Sheringham, on the Tangerines' return to action at Brewers Green Lane.

Michael King's side had pulled level on three occassions before the game's seventh goal, in the 73rd minute, proved to be decisive.

Sheringham took the lead within 30 seconds but Bryn Mullen replied from a tight angle in the 21st minute.

Kieran Hagan fired in off the post after they fell behind again to make it 2-2 going into half-time.

A highly contentious third, with the hosts claiming the ball was kicked out of keeper Adam Rix's hands, was cancelled out by James Bemrose before Sheringham found a winner.

The defeat sees Diss drop a place to 10th in the table.

Debenham LC ensured Haverhill Borough's miserable run of league defeats continued following the lockdown break with a 2-1 home success moving the Hornets up two places to 15th.

Borough, who enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win at SIL leaders Claydon in the Suffolk Senior Cup last weekend, have now lost their last five First Division North games to sit just a point off the bottom.

It was a drama-filled 90 minutes at Debenham with the hosts having been 1-0 down and playing with 10 men with 15 minutes to go, while Borough then went on to play out the last few minutes with nine men, following a sin bin and a red card.

Brad Austin scored both goals for The Hornets, the winner a late free kick.

It was also an enjoyable day for Cornard United at basement side Wisbech St Mary, as Tom Clark's team won 5-2 on their return to action to move up three places to 13th.

Aaron Collier got two while Ezra Drann, Cory Willings and Charlie Gilbert also got their names on the scoresheet to make it back-to-back wins, after their pre-lockdown victory at Haverhill Borough.

Elsewhere, AFC Sudbury Reserves (14th) lost 3-1 at home to ninth-placed Great Yarmouth Town to leave Danny Laws' side without a win in their last six matches.

In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South, Halstead Town pulled off the result of the day with a thumping 8-1 home success over a Benfleet side who had started the day in fifth place.

It was only the Humbugs' second win of the season, nine games in, though left Mark McLean's side remaining in 13th place, following on from Tuesday's 3-2 defeat away to Hackney Wick.

Read more: Full report of Needham Market's FA Trophy victory against Leiston

Read more: All the latest Suffolk sport