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Own goal ends Haverhill Rovers' losing run as Hadleigh United continue slump



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An own goal mid-way through the second half saw Haverhill Rovers end their long wait for a second Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division victory as they continued a worrying winless run for hosting Hadleigh United.

It had been two out-of-form teams which met at The Millfield with Marc Abbott's Rovers side having lost their last four in the league while Hadleigh's were themselves on the back of three straight defeats in the division.

It was the hosts who were on top in the first half but they looked toothless in attack while Rovers came more into things in the second period and made them pay with a bizarre own goal.

Haverhill Rovers celebrate what proved to be the winning goal Picture: Mecha Morton
Haverhill Rovers celebrate what proved to be the winning goal Picture: Mecha Morton

After Ryan Weaver had flicked a bouncing ball in the box goalwards, Matt Paine's attempted clearance cannoned back off fellow defender Ben Elliott and over goalkeeper Nick Punter.

The result saw second-from-bottom Rovers draw level with Fakenham Town above them to provide a platform to climb out of the relegation zone while the Brettsiders remain 10th.

Hadleigh manager Steve Holder welcomed back captain Matt Paine into his defence and Max Dinnell into the midfield after the pair were unavailable for Saturday's 3-0 Buildbase FA Vase exit at Redbridge.

Hadleigh United's Max Dinnell reacts to a missed opportunity Picture: Mecha Morton
Hadleigh United's Max Dinnell reacts to a missed opportunity Picture: Mecha Morton

Haverhill, who lost on penalties at home to London had a freshly-signed player in Billy Hunt, who used to play in their under-18s who went straight into the heart of their defence.

It was the hosts who started very much on the front foot with Mason Ransome's early low angled shot deflected wide before James Ross headed into the hands of Jonah Gill.

Hadleigh were forced into an early change in the 17th minute when left-back Jake Eady hobbled off, with Jemel Fox coming on against his former club.

Gill was forced to push a skidding 30-yard effort from Sharp clear before Josh Cheetham saw his shot from outside the box deflected wide.

Haverhill Rovers' Charlie Davies and Hadleigh United's Mason Ransome battle for the ball at The Millfield Picture: Mecha Morton
Haverhill Rovers' Charlie Davies and Hadleigh United's Mason Ransome battle for the ball at The Millfield Picture: Mecha Morton

Despite having to soak up the hosts' attacks it was Rovers who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 32nd minute. Reiss Oteng won back the ball in his own half before setting Josh Brooke down the left wing with his strong run inside ending with a powerful long-range effort that produced a fine low save from Nick Punter.

Up the other end Sharp's free kick near the corner of the box found the hands of Gill.

A twisting run from Rovers' Jacob Joseph turned the Hadleigh defence inside out before he fired a shot wide of the left-hand post.

Jack Martin bursts through for Haverhill Rovers Picture: Mecha Morton
Jack Martin bursts through for Haverhill Rovers Picture: Mecha Morton

Hadleigh were left frustrated as several dangerous low Ross crosses flashed through the six-yard box with no-one able to get a telling touch.

A forgettable half came to a close with Ransome firing a free kick wide for the hosts.

Hadleigh's Dinnell burst through seconds after the restart but his scuffed shot was comfortable for Gill.

Rovers had started brightly and player-boss Abbott fired a long-range free kick into the arms of Punter while Matt Paine came close to turning Brooke's low cross past his own 'keeper.

Hadleigh began to exert some pressure again and Dinnell fired a low shot wide of the left-hand post while Sharp's looping header was a routine catch for Gill.

But it was the visitors who finally broke the deadlock in the 67th minute in bizarre fashion. The Hadleigh defence allowed a goal kick to bounce into their area and after Ryan Weaver flicked it goalwards past Punter Paine's attempted clearance came back off Elliott before landing in the net.

Soon after it was almost two as Brooke raced through only to see his effort end up in the side-netting with the goalkeeper caught in no man's land.

Hadleigh were struggling to carve out any clear-cut chances but came close to the equaliser they craved in the 81st minute when substitute Ivatt sent a glancing header just wide.

Up the other end Rovers had the chance to put the game to bed when Jake Williams' flick on put Brookes clear but after Punter raced off his line he saw his shot roll wide.

The action swung end to end late on as Rovers' Weaver headed wide before home substitute Taylor saw a late shot inside the box well blocked by Gill.

Weaver soon found himself clear only for Hadleigh 'keeper Punter to narrow the angle well before making a good save himself.

Ransome's free kick five minutes into added time brought a diving save out of Gill as Hadleigh succumbed to another disappointing home defeat.

Hadleigh United: Punter, Elliott, Eady (Fox 17'), S Cheetham, Paine (c), Yaxley, Ross, Dinnell, Brown (Ivatt 55'), Sharp, Ransome. Unused subs: Taylor, J Cheetham, Lambert.

Haverhill Rovers: Gill, Davies, Martin, Romanos, Oteng, Hunt, Abbott, Weaver, Williams, Joseph, Brooke (Haines 88'). Unused subs: Hussein, Kimber, Philp.

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