Saturday's local football round-up: Stowmarket Town overcome league leaders while Lakenheath continue to make history and Mildenhall Town win derby with Newmarket Town
Stowmarket Town's debut campaign as a Step 4 club continued to go from strength to strength on Saturday as they returned from Pitching In Isthmian League North Division leaders Canvey Island with all three points.
Evan Collard's 66th-minute goal was enough to wrap up the 1-0 victory for Paul Musgrove's men, who became just the second side to defeat The Gulls in the league this term.
And the win was all the more impressive given that they had to play the majority of the second half with 10 men following the dismissal of Erkan Okay on debut.
Things can get even better for the Old Gold & Blacks on Tuesday, when a victory over fellow Suffolk side AFC Sudbury will move them into first place.
The fifth-placed Yellows will head to Greens Meadow on the back of a 2-1 defeat at Aveley.
Goals in either half from Alex Akrofi (penalty) and Jon Benton put the home side in command, although Jake Clowsley did provide the visitors with some hope via his 65th-minute goal.
The equaliser did not come though, condemning Rick Andrews' and Angelo Harrop's men to back-to-back away defeats in the league.
Yet, such is the congestion towards the top end of the division, a win at Stowmarket on Tuesday would draw Sudbury level with their neighbours on 33 points.
As for Bury Town, they lost more ground in the race for the play-offs after playing out a 2-2 draw at home with Grays Athletic.
The Blues fell behind twice at their Denny Bros Stadium base, but goals from Ryan Jolland and Olly Hughes – the latter scoring four minutes from time – rescued a share of the spoils.
Nevertheless, Ben Chenery's men have now dropped down to 10th in the North Division standings, five points adrift of the top five.
It was the same scoreline for Soham Town Rangers from their trip to Stamford in the equivalent level Pitching In Northern Premier League Midlands Division.
The Greens completed and concluded the scoring thanks to Joe Carden (3') and Alfie Connor (penalty, 78') at the Zeeco Stadium.
And while the result was not enough to move Soham off the foot of the table, it did end a nine-game losing run in all competitions. Robbie Mason's team are now also three points from safety, though some of the sides above them have a game in hand.
Up in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central Division, Needham Market were made to sweat during their 3-2 win on the road at Barwell.
Goals from Callum Sturgess, Ben Fowkes and Luke Ingram saw the 13th-placed Marketmen open up a 3-0 lead, only for their hosts to set up a nervy finish with a couple of goals of their own in the closing stages.
Boss Kevin Horlock will be hoping the victory proves to be the perfect preparation for next week's big Buildbase FA Trophy clash with National League outfit Wealdstone at Bloomfields.
Elsewhere in the division, sixth-placed Leiston are now eight points adrift of the play-offs after losing 4-2 at home to Rushall Olympic.
A Will Davies double had got the hosts level after falling 2-0 down, but visiting Olympic scored a couple more goals during the second half to take all three points back to the west Midlands.
Meanwhile, just one Suffolk club remained in the Buildbase FA Vase, which played out its third round at the weekend.
And Lakenheath ensured their name would be among the 32 in the hat for today's fourth round draw after a dramatic ending to proceedings at The Pit.
Shaun Avis was the hero against lower-league Shefford Town & Campton, with the forward scoring a hat-trick – including a stoppage-time winner from distance – to seal a 3-2 victory and his side's progress.
For a full take on the tie (including a video interview with match winner Avis) see Russell Claydon's report here.
A few miles down the A11 in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, Mildenhall Town continued their impressive record against neighbouring Newmarket Town.
The visitors' 4-1 victory, which was sealed thanks to goals from Tanner Call, James Hall, Natty Stewart and home defender James Chivers, extended their unbeaten run in the fixture to nine games.
The win has left Ricky Cornish's third-placed team four points adrift of table-topping Gorleston and three behind Wroxham in second, though they have played a game more than the Norfolk pair.
As for eighth-placed Newmarket, who had drawn level at a goal apiece early in the second half through Joe Robinson, they have seen their four-game winning streak in the league come to an end.
In the battle of fourth versus fifth, Walsham-le-Willows suffered a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Mulbarton Wanderers – and therefore have been leapfrogged by their visitors.
Walsham took the lead through Cameron Nicholls, but goals from Sam Whiting and Tim Henery (penalty) earned Mulbarton all three points at Summer Road.
And to rub further salt into the hosts' wound, they lost both Ryan Clarke and Charlie Cook to red cards during the second half.
A couple of places below Mulbarton in seventh are Woodbridge Town after they ran out 3-1 winners over Thetford Town (13th) at Notcutts Park.
Ryan Fuller put the visiting Brecklanders in front, yet Woodbridge edged themselves in front with a Mark Ray double before Kelsey Trotter rounded off the scoring.
Ely City, meanwhile, round off the top 10 despite slipping to a 2-1 defeat at 12th-placed Kirkley & Pakefield.
Kyle Haylock scored in either side of Ryan Gibbs' goal for Ely to give the home side all three points. The visiting Robins also ended the contest a man light after Ash Walter was handed his marching orders.
In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, Needham Market Reserves recorded a thumping 7-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Wisbech St Mary.
The Marketmen's second string had headed into the contest at Bloomfields sitting just one place above their struggling opponents, but the big victory has seen them jump up two places to 13th.
Higher up the division, both Diss Town (9th) and Framlingham Town (8th) saw their play-off hopes take a hit.
Diss were beaten 1-0 away from at home UEA to leave them six points adrift of the top five, while it is the same gap for Framlingham after they were beaten by the odd goal in three on the road at Norwich CBS.
Elsewhere in the division, 12th-placed Debenham LC looked to be on course for all three points at Great Yarmouth Town thanks to debutant Charlie Canham's 49th-minute goal against his former club.
However, with just five minutes remaining the hosting Bloaters drew level to salvage a point from the game.
With Buckhurst Hill in FA Vase action, both Halstead Town and Ipswich Wanderers took full advantage to move into the Thurlow Nunn League First Division's South top two positions.
Halstead are top after overcoming May & Baker 1-0 at home, with Adam Hampson's late goal proving to be the difference between the two sides.
Second-placed Wanderers are second – and with a big six games in hand on the Humbugs – after they saw off visiting Hackney Wick 4-0.
An own goal got the ball rolling for Wanderers at Humber Doucy Lane before Danny Cunningham, Kris Rose and Paulo Coelho rounded off a positive afternoon.
At the other end of the pitch goalkeeper Craig Brand also continued his recent positive form, taking his tally of clean sheets to four in a row.
It was also a good afternoon for 17th-placed Cornard United as they recorded their fifth league win of the campaign.
Oliver Law, Oliver Sims and Scott Sloots all found the back of the net for the Ards in their 3-1 home triumph at the expense of Benfleet.
But it was not to be for AFC Sudbury Reserves (15th) as they went down 3-2 a home to Barkingside.
Saturday's postponed matches: Basildon United v Felixstowe & Walton United, Swaffham Town v Whitton United, Haverhill Rovers v Norwich United, Lowestoft Town v Hednesford Town.
Midweek Fixtures (Kick off 7.45pm unless otherwise stated)
Tuesday, December 14
Pitching In Southern League Premier Central Division
Leiston v Stratford Town
Pitching In Isthmian League North Division
Felixstowe & Walton United v Witham Town
Stowmarket Town v AFC Sudbury (follow @russclaydon on Twitter for match updates)