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Haverhill Rovers make Saturday's home clash with Mulbarton Wanderers free entry following 10-0 defeat last time out

Haverhill Rovers will be offering free entry at The New Croft this Saturday following one of the club’s heaviest defeats in their history last weekend.

The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division’s bottom side shipped double figures in a 10-0 defeat at home to Norwich United on Saturday.

And while it was an afternoon to forget for interim manager Peter Betts and his players, who finished the game several men short on the pitch due to injuries and a depleted squad, the club are hoping to attract a bumper crowd at The New Croft when they return to action this weekend.

Interim manager Peter Betts prepares Rovers for a home clash with Mulbarton this Saturday Picture: Mark Westley
Interim manager Peter Betts prepares Rovers for a home clash with Mulbarton this Saturday Picture: Mark Westley

Rovers host Mulbarton Wanderers in the Premier Division on Saturday (3pm) in a match which will be free entry for all supporters, in recognition of the continued backing the club has had during a tough opening few months of the season.

“It was a heavy defeat and one that no one wanted to experience,” Betts said. “It’s now about how everyone bounces back.

“The club knows how massively important the supporters are. The crowds have still been there since the start of the season, under the old management team, through to now.

“The performances haven’t been good enough, but people have still been supporting the team and that’s huge. It’s easy for people to turn their backs on a football team when they’re not doing well but our supporters have been fantastic so far this season.

“We had 125 people who paid to come and watch us on Saturday and we lost 10-0.

“There was a lot of people who said we’ll be back to watch next week and the club, to show their appreciation and to say thank you to the supporters, have made it free entry on Saturday.”

After defeats on the road at Ely City and Sheringham, Rovers returned to The Culina Hub, The New Croft on Saturday to face a Norwich side who had won seven of their last nine games in all competitions.

The visitors struck twice midway through the first-half, either side of Rovers suffering two injuries, as Charlie Davies and captain Ryan Weaver were both forced off.

With only two available substitutes on their bench having already been used, things went from bad to worse when Ronnie Ledwith sustained a serious injury, leaving Rovers with 10 men on the pitch.

In the second half, Norwich struck eight times without reply to reach double figures, while Rovers lost another player late on when Perry White was sent to the sin bin.

Reflecting on the heavy defeat, Betts said: “It’s one of them games where you sort of had to be involved in it behind the scenes to know what was going on.

“There’s no justification in losing a game 10-0 and I take responsibility.

“The players are giving everything and I’m thick skinned enough to take the criticism.

“We had a squad of 15 for the game on Saturday. We had a couple of players out injured and one on holiday which we knew about.

“On the morning of the game we lost two players with Covid and we couldn’t replace them in the squad.

“Our goalkeeper was up all night extremely unwell, but he didn’t want to let anyone down and turned up just to play.

“One of the subs we did have was travelling to Australia on the Sunday and he wasn’t even going to be in the squad.

“For all that to happen before the match, we started really well and for the first 20-25 minutes we were competitive.

“We then conceded a freak own goal and 90 seconds later we conceded another goal.

“Everyone was looking at the referee and linesman to stop the game for a clear handball, but we’re 2-0 down within 90 seconds and we’d had a good start.

“When you add in the injuries as well it was a horrible day and a day to forget. Norwich United absolutely punished us beyond belief.”

Ryan Weaver was forced off with an injury on Saturday Picture: Mark Westley
Ryan Weaver was forced off with an injury on Saturday Picture: Mark Westley

Rovers now face a potentially crucial run of fixtures during the rest of October, with a trip to Hadleigh United on Tuesday (7.45pm) followed by games with Walsham-le-Willows (16th) at home (October 22) and Whitton United (18th) away (October 29).

“The group is together and behind the scenes everyone is working together,” Betts said.

“I’ve read the chairman’s notes which will be in the programme on Saturday and everyone from the volunteers to the players, we’re all running in the same direction to put this right.

“After the Norwich game our captain and vice-captain used the fines pot for their end of the season bash to buy supporters beers in the bar. That shows the type of characters we have here.”

Meanwhile, Rovers have been drawn away to Newmarket Town in the third round of the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup. The tie will be played on Tuesday, November 8.

Haverhill Rovers Women are back in action after a three-week break when they host Ipswich Valley Rangers Women in the MH Goals Ltd Suffolk Women's Cup this weekend.

The first-round tie will take place on the 3G pitch at The New Croft on Sunday (2pm).

Haverhill Rovers Vets are into the second round of the Best Badges Ltd Suffolk Veterans' Cup after thrashing Hadleigh United Vets 5-1 on Sunday.

Defending champions Whitton United Vets saw off Spexhall Huntsman & Hounds Vets 8-3 in their first-round tie.