Saturday's local football round-up: Late drama seals wins for Bury Town and Needham Market while Stowmarket Town extend lead, Ely City hand managers first win and Hadleigh United climb off the bottom
In the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division, there was a great storyline unfolded in the hosts' favour at the Denny Bros Stadium as Bury Town overcame play-off rivals Dereham Town 2-1.
Ben Chenery handed a debut in the number six shirt to 41-year-old Carlos Edwards, with the ex-Premier League midfielder and Trinidad & Tobago international having signing on dual registration terms from lower-league Woodbridge Town as they looked to bounce back to a costly defeat at Tilbury last weekend.
But things were not going to script in front of a crowd of 332 when on-loan Norwich City goalkeeper Daniel Barden had to leave the pitch injured with around an hour to play and, with no specialist shot-stopper on the bench, left-back Will Gardner had to don the gloves.
Adam Hipperson found a way past him to put the seventh-placed side in front on the stroke of half-time.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes the Blues were still trailing 1-0, but they found an important equaliser in the 85th minute through full-back Ryan Stafford.
Better was to follow though as Olly Hughes was bundled over from a corner four minutes into stoppage time, with top goalscorer Cemal Ramadan firing it in for 2-1. It was the former Ipswich Town Under-18s' striker's 19th goal of the campaign.
The three precious points move up a place in the table to fourth and just five points adrift of leaders Heybridge Swifts, who have played two games more than themselves.
It also gives Chenery's side some good momentum to take into Tuesday's away A134 derby at AFC Sudbury (14th), with Mark Morsley's side left without a game after a late pitch call-off at Basildon United.
In the same division, Soham Town Rangers (13th) could not continue their winning run, which had stood at three matches after impressive victories against AFC Sudbury, Basildon United and Canvey Island, when title-chasing Heybridge Swifts came to Julius Martin Lane.
Two second-half goals saw the Swifts capitalise on Aveley drawing to leapfrog them into top spot.
Emmanuel Osei-Owusu broke the deadlock on the hour mark before a 74th minute penalty from Alex Teniola put the game beyond the Greens' reach ahead of their derby at Cambridge City on Wednesday (7.45pm).
Up a level in the BetVictor Southern Premier Central, it was a dramatic 90 minutes at Bloomfields as Needham Market improved their poor home form by picking up their third straight win with a thrilling 4-3 encounter with Hednesford, reports Drew Kendall.
The Marketmen, who had only three wins from 14 league matches (six draws) at Bloomfields this season, went in front a minute in, Adam Mills' shot was saved but Callum Page bundled in the follow up to make it three goals in three games.
The lead did not last long however, as the Pitmen equalised in the 10th minute as Bailey tapped home from a corner.
Needham though regained their lead 11 minutes before the break, Page squaring for Mills who fired into the roof of the net from close range.
The hosts then made it 3-1 eight minutes before the interval as Billy Hunt ran on to a back pass to finish past the onrushing keeper.
The second half saw Needham go close to a fourth early on as Hunt's shot was saved well while man-of-the-match Noah Collard's half-volley went just the wrong side of the post midway through.
Hednesford reduced the deficit on 74 minutes as King headed home from a cross into the box, followed by Hodge restoring parity just four minutes later, firing home into the bottom corner.
The hosts, meanwhile, scored the winner with six minutes to go as James Baker flicked home Hunt's low cross, not before some great last-ditch defending saw Glover's goalbound shot cleared off the line.
It sees Richard Wilkins' side complete the double over Hednesford and move up a place in the table to 14th.
In the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, Newmarket Town's impressive run – four wins and one draw from their last five – came to an end at mid-table Brantham Athletic, though they held on to second place.
Having dished out a 7-0 hammering to Swaffham Town last weekend, the Jockeys could not find the back of the net this afternoon with Jordan Foster denied by a great save in a goalless first half.
But the hosts scored twice in the second period for a 2-0 victory, with Michael Brothers pouncing on a defensive error from Blake Kicks to emphatically volley home from 20 yards.
Both sides were reduced to 10 men when Joe Robinson and Jack Simmons were shown red cards for their squirmish before Brantham's second arrived via the head of debutant Joe Lee.
It mean Stowmarket Town extended their lead at the summit to 16 points after recording a 3-0 home win over mid-table Godmanchester Rovers to maintain their unbeaten campaign.
Christy Finch's deft back header sent the Old Gold & Blacks into the interval 1-0 up and after the hosts doubled their advantage, the same player completed the scoring via a free kick.
Mildenhall Town moved two places up the table to sixth after Ricky Cornish's side made it four victories in a row for the club for the first time since the back end of the 2016/17 season, overcoming visiting Swaffham Town 3-1.
It was 1-1 at the break after James Halls' 32nd minute opener was levelled before the division's top goalscorer last season, Valter Rocha, found his touch in front of goal with strikes in the 62nd and 90th minutes.
After last week's 7-0 home defeat to Stowmarket Town, Rocha's former club, Thetford Town (15th), suffered a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to relegation-threatened Ely City.
It was a first win for recently-appointed Ely managers Luke McAvoy and Ben Farmer in their fifth game in charge and ended a 13-game wait for a victory.
Having lost their last two matches by hefty scorelines, 7-1 at Stowmarket and 5-1 at home to Woodbridge Town, a single goal from homegrown talent Mitch Drewitt proved to be enough to decide the points in the Robins' favour.
The win proved to come at a vital time as Hadleigh United climbed off the bottom of the table with a 3-1 victory at Walsham-le-Willows.
It was a first win in seven for Christian Appleford's side but they had to show character to come from behind after Craig Jennings put the hosting Willows in front in the seventh minute.
They were only behind less than two minutes though as Joel Glover took advantage of a mix-up at the back to finish before Jack Yaxley finished a pinpoint cross from Mason Ransome to make it 2-1 in the 24th minute.
Things got even better as 10 minutes later a third arrived as Ransome, who had set up the first two, converted Glover's cross.
It was a scoreline they were able to maintain in the second period to climb out of the one potential relegation place, taking advantage of Gorleston losing 4-0 at Stanway Rovers.
Elsewhere, Haverhill Rovers move up a place to 16th after a 1-1 draw at home to mid-table Kirkley & Pakefield, with Ben Bradley on target for Marc Abbott's side while Long Melford (7th) were not in action.
In the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup quarter-finals, Debenham LC lost 5-1 at home to Ipswich-based Coplestonians with Jake Conway getting the Hornets' only goal.
Suffolk & Ipswich League side Old Newton United also saw their dream of a potential Portman Road final die as hosting Ipswich Wanderers beat them 1-0.
In the First Division North, Diss Town's recent woeful run continued as they were thrashed 7-1 at AFC Sudbury Reserves (15th).
Owen Betts equalised had levelled things up for the Tangerines but AFC Sudbury quickly retook the lead in the 49th minute.
Ryan Fuller was sent off for Jon Abbott's side and a man down, the goals soon flooded in for a fifth straight defeat.
They do remain in ninth place in the table but are now eight points off the top four automatic promotion places, with Norwich CBS (4th) coming away from Cornard United (14th) with a 2-1 victory.
Framlingham Town (17th) also went down to a 2-1 defeat, at mid-table Great Yarmouth, in a game which saw Kit McCausland given his first start.
Elsewhere, King's Lynn Town Reserves defied their lowly league position to beat visiting Needham Market Reserves (12th) 4-0 while Haverhill Borough were not in action.
In the First Division South, Halstead Town dropped a place to seventh as teams caught up on a game in hand. The Humbugs are now two points, from one, from the top four automatic promotion places.
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