More semi-final disappointment for Newmarket Town
For the second season in succession, Newmarket Town are licking their wounds after crashing out of a cup competition at the semi-final stage to lower-league opposition.
Twelve months ago it was Fakenham Town that knocked the Step 5 Jockeys out of the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup, while this evening it was March Town United who ran out 2-0 winners in the Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup.
The defeat at the Tristel Stadium is all the more galling for Newmarket when factoring in that the First Division North Hares played more than an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of Tarren Moxon. What's more, Jack Friend and Craig Gillies – a strike partnership worth almost 60 goals this term – started on the bench for March.
After the visitors carved out a couple of early half chances, Jack Chandler spurned perhaps Newmarket's best opening of the night in the eighth minute.
Scott Paterson floated over a perfectly-weighted cross to the back post for the attacker, but from close range he planted his header straight at Charlie Congreve in the March goal.
In contrast, the away side's Toby Allen was much more clinical when a chance fell his way in the 25th minute. After taking a couple of touches to set himself, the former King's Lynn man wrong footed Newmarket goalkeeper Alex Archer with the calmest of low finishes.
March now had their tails up, but they suffered a big setback in the 32nd minute when Moxon was handed his marching orders for a challenge on Chandler just in front of the two dugouts. The March midfielder looked stunned to have been red carded, but referee Chris Darling had no hesitation.
Yet, throughout the remainder of the encounter, Newmarket struggled to make their numerical advantage count. They huffed and puffed during the second half, dominating possession as expected.
But clear cut opportunities were at a premium – the best of which saw Chandler head against the upright from another Paterson cross in the 54th minute.
Ben Robinson and substitute Ben Landshoff also went close with headed efforts in quick succession from player-manager Michael Shinn's corner in the 89th minute, but the outcome was eventually settled in the second minute of stoppage time.
Friend – having came off the bench in the 82nd minute – broke clear of the Newmarket defence and then showed great composure to beat a stranded Archer with a chipped effort.
Newmarket: Archer, Paterson, Kicks (Landshoff 87'), Bennett, Seymour, J Robinson, B Robinson, Watson, Whitehead, Shinn, Chandler (Whiting 69')
* For reaction to Newmarket's defeat, see this week's Journal print edition.
* There will also be no Cambridge United final for Soham Town Rangers, who lost the other semi-final 1-0 at home to Cambridge City.
Isaac Maynard's 50th-minute goal was enough to send the Lilywhites through to face March at The Abbey in April.