Haverhill Borough's tough start to season continues with defeat to Lakenheath
Despite cutting a frustrated figure on Tuesday night following a 4-0 defeat to Lakenheath, manager Guy Habbin has affirmed that a gruelling first month of the campaign will not define Haverhill Borough’s season, writes Owen Mizon.
Although the first 20 minutes were relatively cagey, Lakenheath proved clinical when presented with their first-half opportunities.
Three well-taken goals in the space of nine minutes, from defenders Alex McIntosh, Finlay Logan and Scott Callaghan, put the visitors in full command at The New Croft.
Borough had a mammoth task on their hands after the break, but could not break down a resolute rearguard as striker Shaun Avis got in on the act with eight minutes remaining, consigning the home side to a third consecutive defeat.
It has not been an easy start for Borough, who have fallen to defeats against Mulbarton Wanderers, Lakenheath and Downham Town – last season’s respective top three in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North before play was cut short due to Covid-19 in March.
Nevertheless, Habbin has taken heart that his side will only improve as the games continue to come thick and fast.
He said: “The three goals in quick succession is a real disappointment. The way we set up did demand a lot, but the mindset was not where it should be and by the third goal we were licking our wounds.
“We changed the shape second half and we were better, we retained the ball and looked good going forward. We should be converting some of the chances we had, nonetheless.
“Everyone knew how tough (the opening three fixtures) it would be for us. We’re still a work in progress, but we’re only a small distance away from where we want to be.”
In the opening half hour it was the visitors who boasted the better of the opportunities. The menacing Tom Thulborn – who joined Lakenheath from Borough in the summer – made two marauding runs down the left side of the pitch, but was expertly denied both times by the feet of James Young between the sticks.
However, Young could do nothing about the first goal of the game when Lakenheath left-back McIntosh fired in from distance in the 32nd minute.
Fellow full-back Logan increased the advantage just six minutes later, as he astutely converted with aplomb inside the box when left in acres of space. And with four minutes remaining Callaghan blasted home from a corner.
Despite plenty of endeavour from Borough in the second half, where Josh Lowe and substitute Ryan Kent proved a handful, there was no way to cut through an organised Lakenheath back four.
A fierce Reece Clarke free kick from 30 yards on in the 82nd minute cannoned off the crossbar and on to a plate for Avis, who had the simplest of tap-ins to round off a comprehensive win.
The attention now turns to a tricky Buildbase FA Vase match-up away at higher-league West Essex on Sunday (2pm), where a small scalp will no doubt raise spirits.
“They’re a good step 5 side. But if we show the resilience and maintain the quality of play I know we have in larger periods, we can be a match for anybody,” concluded Habbin.
Borough: Young, Carter, Game (Bone 78’), Gleeson, Ledwith, Dewey, Martin, King (Fletcher 84’), Lowe, Swallow, Pruden (Kent 67’).