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Newmarket Town show their fighting spirit to battle back for a point in tough situation

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At half-time last weekend, Newmarket Town player-manager Michael Shinn could have been forgiven for seriously questioning whether or not football was really worth it.

He had been handed a straight red card during the first half and his team – on a run of five straight Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division defeats – shipped two goals to opponents Fakenham Town.

And while it was not public knowledge at the time, Shinn also had to contend with the fact that his captain had left the club due to personal reasons.

Newmarket celebrate their equaliser against Fakenham (52163538)
Newmarket celebrate their equaliser against Fakenham (52163538)

The message to the players during the 15-minute interval was simple: it is sink or swim time.

Thankfully for Shinn, the 10-man Jockeys rolled up their sleeves, got down to work and were rewarded by goals from Jon Carver and newly-installed skipper James Seymour to come away from the encounter with a 2-2 draw.

“It probably doesn’t get much worse than being on the run we were on, having your manager sent off and then being 2-0 down at half-time,” said Shinn, who is suspended for Saturday’s trip to leaders Gorleston.

“But we said to the lads one way it does get worse is if we go out there and end up losing 4-0 or 5-0.

“At moments like that you can’t be divided. You’ve got to come together and see what happens – thankfully we did that.

“We told the lads that they needed to be compact, work hard, get them turned and then try to win some set pieces.

“It’s ended up working for us and it’s showed a few people that this is a group willing to fight for each other.

“It’s a really close group of lads with a lot of ability. Things have not been going our way, but we’re doing everything to turn it around.”

While Shinn felt his first-half dismissal was harsh, it was an incident in which he could understand why the referee had reached that conclusion.

He said: “It was a tackle where I’ve won the ball and there was a bit of follow through because of momentum.

“From one camera angle it looks a yellow, and maybe from the other it could have been red.

“I’ve grown up playing in an era where you can tackle, but now I’m playing and managing in one where you can’t.

“It wouldn’t have probably been a foul a few years back, but in the modern game I can see why the referee has done what he’s done.”

After travelling to the Norfolk coast on Saturday, Newmarket return to the Tristel Stadium on Tuesday to host March Town United (7.45pm).

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