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Newmarket Town through to Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup semi-finals after beating March Town United



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Newmarket Town moved a step closer to ending an eight-year wait for silverware by winning tonight's Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup quarter-final at home against March Town United 2-0.

It was deserved progress for a Jockeys side that defended well, pressed with real intensity from the front and while a number of chances also went begging, they did enough in front of goal to complete the job against a team that sits one place above them in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.

The tie simmered early on as the two outfits sized each other up with the two goalkeepers largely taking on a spectator's brief.

Newmarket players congratulate Ben Robinson after his goal. Picture: Mark Westley
Newmarket players congratulate Ben Robinson after his goal. Picture: Mark Westley

In fact it was not until the 18th minute that Newmarket carved out the game’s first meaningful chance of note when Will Gardner’s cross field pass perfectly picked out Ryan Swallow, but after bringing the ball down he fired wide of the near post.

And two minutes later recent arrival Gardner was again involved as his long throw was flicked on by Jon Carver for Lewis Whitehead, who with the ball slightly behind him volleyed wide.

Up the other end March had the ball in the net via Jack Friend – only for his celebrations to be cut short by an offside flag – before Newmarket took the lead in the 32nd minute.

Ben Robinson rises highest to head in the first goal. Picture: Mark Westley
Ben Robinson rises highest to head in the first goal. Picture: Mark Westley

It was legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly who said ‘football is a simple game, complicated by idiots’ and that was particularly true of the opening goal as Whitehead’s right-wing corner was powered home from six yards out by Ben Robinson. No thrills, but it did the job for the hosts.

Newmarket remained largely on top for the rest of the half, although their goalkeeper Alex Archer was kept honest a couple of minutes before the break by Lewis Gibson’s low free kick.

The opportunities started to flow more freely for Newmarket after the restart – the first of which was presented to Jack Whiting in the 47th minute, but after breaking into the box his effort lacked the necessary amount of curl to nestle inside the far post.

If Ben Robinson's opener was routine enough, he had arguably an even more straightforward opening in the 59th minute when Gardner's block fell kindly into his path. However, with just Charlie Congreve in the March goal to beat from 10 yards out he shot straight at the 'keeper.

Will Gardner made his second appearance for Newmarket. Picture: Mark Westley
Will Gardner made his second appearance for Newmarket. Picture: Mark Westley

The Hares, who knocked Newmarket out at the semi-final stage of this tournament in 2020, started to apply some pressure midway through the second half, yet all of the clear cut chances were being carved out by the home team.

Whiting and Whitehead both shot straight at Congreve, with the latter also rounding the man with the gloves but with an angle that was narrowing all of the time he shot off target.

Newmarket defender James Chivers almost got fortunate with a cross in the 84th minute that skimmed the crossbar, but eventually with four minutes remaining the outcome was put to bed.

Ben Robinson did well to hold off the attention of Danny Emmington wide on the right and he slotted a pass through for Whiting, who in turn picked out Whitehead and despite being slightly off balance Newmarket's number nine picked out the bottom corner.

Lewis Whitehead settled the tie by scoring the second goal. Picture: Mark Westley
Lewis Whitehead settled the tie by scoring the second goal. Picture: Mark Westley

It put the finishing touches to a night in which the hosts advanced into the last four of a competition they have won only once before – back in 1959.

Elsewhere in the competition, Ely City caused a shock by winning 3-2 at higher-league Histon thanks to a hat-trick from Luke Youngs.

Soham Town Rangers were beaten 3-1 at home by Cambridge United Development, while Cambridge City won the all-Step 4 battle at Wisbech Town 3-2.

The draw for the semi-final will take place in due course with ties expected to take place on Tuesday, March 1.

Ben Robinson celebrates breaking the deadlock. Picture: Mark Westley
Ben Robinson celebrates breaking the deadlock. Picture: Mark Westley

Newmarket: Archer, Chivers, Gardner, Bennett, Seymour, Carver, B Robinson, J Robinson, Whitehead, Whiting, Swallow

Suffolk News Man of the Match – Joe Bennett: A tough one to call because it was a very good team performance from the Jockeys, but Bennett drove them on from midfield. He kept possession well and won the ball back on a handful of occasions.