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Jake Williams and Josh Ambrose goals see Haverhill Rovers to three precious home points against Thetford Town



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Their poor home form had been something Haverhill Rovers manager Liam Aves knew they would have to turn around if they are to remain in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division next season.

And despite only picking up one win from their 10 league games at The New Croft heading into this afternoon's home game with Thetford Town, they got 2022 off on the right note with a 2-1 victory.

A two-goal cushion from Jake Williams' bullet header and Josh Ambrose's magnificent free kick was no less than they deserved for their endeavours in the opening 45 minutes.

Haverhill Rovers celebrate their first goal from Jake Williams Picture: Mecha Morton
Haverhill Rovers celebrate their first goal from Jake Williams Picture: Mecha Morton

But despite continuing in the same vein in the second period, they failed to build on that advantage and a fumbled free kick from substitute Adam Laker 10 minutes from time set up a nervy finish.

The Brecklanders, who now have only one win in their last 11 games to now sit a point and a place above Rovers in 14th, were not able to provide a late twist though and ended with 10 men when Elliot Smith received a second yellow card in stoppage time.

The victory means Liam Aves' Haverhill move from one to three points clear of the relegation zone, with Long Melford now joining Swaffham Town in the bottom two following Whitton United winning 2-1 at Woodbridge Town. The Villagers, who drew 0-0 at fellow strugglers Brantham Athletic, do hold two games in hand on Rovers.

Josh Ambrose scores a free kick for Haverhill Rovers Picture: Mecha Morton
Josh Ambrose scores a free kick for Haverhill Rovers Picture: Mecha Morton

It was the hosts who were first to threaten in a scrappy start at The New Croftl with Reiss Oteng sending a free kick wide before Thetford managed to open the hosts up only for Joao Varela to horribly screw his shot wide.

It was Rovers who opened the scoring in the 12th minute with Williams planting a powerful header from Oteng's deep left-wing cross into the bottom left-hand corner.

With their tails up, they almost doubled their lead four minutes later with Josh Ambrose's curling cross-shot fizzed past the far post with a diving Williams almost connecting.

Ambrose found the side-netting from close-range before Dan Kimber was finally called into action up the other end in the 25th minute, clawing away an awkward looping header from Elliot Smith.

Haverhill Rovers celebrate their second goal, via Josh Ambrose's free kick Picture: Mecha Morton
Haverhill Rovers celebrate their second goal, via Josh Ambrose's free kick Picture: Mecha Morton

Rovers looked far sharper and their pressure soon ramped up again with Tom Stoker thwarted by an onrushing Dan Kimber while Williams headed over from the subsequent corner.

The second goal deservedly arrived in the 33rd minute via an exquisite 25-yard central free kick from Ambrose, who had earned the foul himself, which curled with pace into the top right-hand corner.

Six minutes before the break Thetford threatened to pull one back but a great last-ditch tackle from Heydon nicked the ball away from Michael Campbell after he had got behind the defence.

Dan Kimber fumbled in this free kick from Thetford Town substitute Adam Laker to set up a nervy finish for The New Croft faithful Picture: Mecha Morton
Dan Kimber fumbled in this free kick from Thetford Town substitute Adam Laker to set up a nervy finish for The New Croft faithful Picture: Mecha Morton

Rovers ended the half strongly with Stoker finding the hands of Bugg with a long-range effort and Charlie Buffin's cross whizzing past the far post.

Aves' side continued where they left off at the start of the second half with Williams denied his second by the legs of Bugg, while Joe Morris fired over the bar.

Dan Kimber fumbled in this free kick from Thetford Town substitute Adam Laker to set up a nervy finish for The New Croft faithful Picture: Mecha Morton
Dan Kimber fumbled in this free kick from Thetford Town substitute Adam Laker to set up a nervy finish for The New Croft faithful Picture: Mecha Morton

The Brecklanders' keeper continued to be kept on his toes, beating away a fierce effort from Ambrose who was allowed to turn too easily into the area.

In the 56th minute he was beaten by a knocked on cross which opened the goal up for Morris at the far post, but his player-manager Morton came to his rescue with a smart blocked clearance.

Just past the hour mark a rare Thetford breakaway earned a corner which Kimber failed to claim but Morris was able to hook it away.

The signs of a comeback were near non-existent though while Rovers continued to demonstrate a fluency to their attacking play and calm defending that belied their lowly league position.

Thetford Town's Elliot Smith goes close to an equaliser late on Picture: Mecha Morton
Thetford Town's Elliot Smith goes close to an equaliser late on Picture: Mecha Morton

Indeed one piece of skill by Buffon, a swivel turn to leave Andrew Cusack for dead, to hit the byline encapsulated the confidence they were playing with.

A triple change 19 minutes from time seemed to do the trick for the Brecklanders though who started to come to life with Smith twice having efforts saved by Kimber while Morton headed over from a corner.

Morris saw an effort pushed away by Bugg up the other end but the result was suddenly in the balance from the 80th minute when Kimber had a big hand Adam Laker's free kick squirming past him.

Elliot Smith barges into Dan Kimber resulting in his second yellow card Picture: Mecha Morton
Elliot Smith barges into Dan Kimber resulting in his second yellow card Picture: Mecha Morton

Smith prodded wide at the far post while Laker's snapshot was well blocked by Heydon as Rovers rode their luck.

But Thetford's challenge to claim a point was effectively over when Smith barged into Kimber in the second minute of stoppage time to receive a second yellow card.

In truth Rovers had made what should have been a comfortable victory harder than it should have been but it also showed there is plenty of character in this Thetford side as they bid to start climbing the table again.

Haverhill Rovers: Kimber, Buffin, Oteng, Romanos, Heydon, Hughes, Williams (Carroll 75'), King (c), Morris, Ambrose (Long 82'), Stoker. Unused subs: Martin, Carroll, Fouche, Stone.

Thetford Town: Bugg, Bond (c), Morton, Balment (Delgado 71'), Varela, Cusack, Mann, Felgeuiras, Vasileiou (Laker 71'), Smith, Campbell (Visocanskis 71'). Unused subs: Rogers, Akpan.

Attendance: 136

SuffolkNews Man of The Match: Jake Williams. Busy at both ends of the pitch with his aerial presence and direct running and the midfielder also got a good goal in fine display.