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Soham Town Rangers come up short in clash with Yaxley

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The paying customer was treated to plenty of entertainment at Julius Martin Lane. Six goals, two red cards and a late missed penalty helped to keep those in attendance toasty on a chilly night in Cambridgeshire, yet for hosting Soham Town Rangers it’s not an evening that will have given them such a warm feeling.

The 4-2 defeat means they remain in the Pitching In Northern League Midlands Division’s relegation zone, while 15th-placed opponents Yaxley extend the gap between the teams to five points.

It was a first half in which clear cut chances were at a premium, with neither goalkeeper being overly taxed. In fact, both teams scored with their best openings within the space of a few seconds of each other as they headed into the break level at a goal apiece.

Soham captain Jon Kaye is sent off. Picture: Mark Westley
Soham captain Jon Kaye is sent off. Picture: Mark Westley

It was Yaxley that broke the deadlock in the 15th minute when Pierre Omombe-Epoyo’s back-post cross picked out an unmarked Matthew Sparrow and he expertly fired a low volley inside Tom Carter’s upright.

However, from the restart Declan Rogers broke the Yaxley offside and trap and showed a decent level of composure to beat William Larkin with his rising shot.

Soham defender Cameron Watson saw his 19th-minute header hacked off the line and the Greens went close again in the 24th minute when Ben Seymour-Shove’s effort from a narrowing angle drifted wide.

Declan Rogers celebrates his equaliser. Picture: Mark Westley
Declan Rogers celebrates his equaliser. Picture: Mark Westley

But the half’s key moment came at the end as Soham were reduced to 10 men. Captain Jon Kaye had already been booked when he lost possession in the middle of the pitch to Sparrow and in trying to atone he hauled down the Yaxley livewire. A second yellow card followed, leaving the home side to play the entire second half a man light.

And it seemed that being depleted had ended Soham’s hopes of taking anything from the contest as Yaxley hit them with two quickfire goals after the restart.

In the 58th minute Sparrow darted beyond Warren McSkelley and crossed for Daniel Cotton, who after taking a touch powered his shot in at the near post. Within 180 seconds it was 3-1, with Sparrow scoring his second goal of the night via a low effort from the edge of the box.

At this point there was a real danger of the night turning into a horror show for Soham, but instead they reignited the contest in the 64th minute courtesy of a moment of individual brilliance.

Sam Bennett retrieves the ball after his solo goal. Picture: Mark Westley
Sam Bennett retrieves the ball after his solo goal. Picture: Mark Westley

From the second Sam Bennett picked up possession just inside his own half he seemed to have one thing in his mind – go for goal. He did just that, showing good pace and balance to wrong foot a couple of defenders before displaying a killer instinct with the finish.

With an equaliser now in their sights Soham had to commit more players forward and it almost caught them out in the 70th minute as Sparrow again got the better of McSkelly inside the box, but he was too causal with the shot and Carter saved.

As the game ticked towards a conclusion Soham pushed hard for that one opportunity and it duly arrived four minutes from time. Bennett’s ball set Ollie Ward clear, only for his progress to be halted inside the box. Yaxley’s Bradley Goddard was red carded – despite it looking like it was his defensive partner Spencer Tinkler that had made the foul – and Soham had a penalty.

But with the chance to rescue a share of the spoils in his hands, Rogers shot over the top.

Ollie Ward is fouled for the penalty. Picture: Mark Westley
Ollie Ward is fouled for the penalty. Picture: Mark Westley

And to rub further salt into the wound deep into stoppage the away side made sure of the outcome when Lewis Baughan curled in from a tight angle.

Soham: Carter, Conway, McSkelly, Kaye, Watson, Shaw, Bennett, Sutton, Ward, Rogers, Seymour-Shove (Carden 72')

Suffolk News Man of the Match – Ollie Ward (Soham): Did not stop running all night, never giving the visiting defenders a moment of peace. He also won the late penalty which should have earned his side a point.