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Haverhill Rovers fail to capitalise on Kirkley red card as they are pegged back for a draw

Haverhill Rovers will host a top five side in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division this weekend, keen to build on a 1-1 draw last time out.

The Step 5 squad recorded their fourth draw from their six league outings under returning player-boss Marc Abbott, as Kirkley & Pakefield (12th) fought back from a goal down for a point last Saturday.

Rovers, who currently lie 16th in the standings, are set to welcome fifth-placed Stanway Rovers this Saturday (3pm) as Abbott hunts for the second win of his tenure.

Ben Tait announced his decision to leave Haverhill Rovers on Saturday
Ben Tait announced his decision to leave Haverhill Rovers on Saturday

Rovers have yet to face Stanway this season.

They will play without Ben Tait who announced his decision on Saturday to leave the club he joined as a youth player, but have already been bolstered by the next generation of youth players.

Spencer Sykes, a member of the Rovers EJA Under-16 squad, made his first team debut in the Kirkley match, as the club refocus on the youth pathway.

Rovers came up against a defiant Kirkley & Pakefield side, who held on to a point despite their goalkeeper carried off on a stretcher on 30 minutes and a player sent to the showers early, just ahead of the half-time whistle.

Rovers were unlucky not to take the lead on nine minutes after Luke Haines’ 30-yard strike hit the outside of the post.

On 15 minutes, James Philp was called into action with a full-stretch save to push Dan Conroy’s shot around the post.

Ben Bradley opened Rovers’ goalscoring account after 20 minutes, with a good strike through the centre to put the home team one-up.

But the lead only lasted one minute as Declan McAvoy found Kyle Haylock, who worked his way past defenders and the keeper to slot home the equaliser.

After half an hour, following a home corner in an attempted clearance, there was a nasty collision between the Kirkley keeper Jordan Smith and Ben George, with both players receiving lengthy treatment before Smith was taken off.

With no keeper on the bench, George recovered enough to put on the keeper’s jersey and take over in goal.

After the long hold-up, play resumed with sub keeper George making a fantastic save to stop a certain goal from a 30-yard free-kick.

On 44 minutes, McAvoy was shown a red card for retaliation.

The second half saw Haverhill on a full out attack but poor finishing and good defending, along with the heroics of keeper George, kept Kirkley in the game.

The closest Rovers came was when a Haines shot once again hit the outside of the post.