Saturday's local football round-up: Newmarket Town win thrilling derby while AFC Sudbury and Halstead Town are involved in high-scoring draws
Derbies can often be tense and drab affairs, but Haverhill Rovers and Newmarket Town were having none of that at The New Croft this afternoon.
Hosting Rovers held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 at certain stages, but the visitors roared back to win 4-3 and extend their unbeaten Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division record over their hosts to nine matches.
First-half goals from Jemal Fox and Henry Hall sent Haverhill into the break in the ascendancy. Newmarket's Ross Paterson halved the deficit shortly after the restart, only for Rovers' teenage sensation Tyger Smalls to restore the two-goal advantage from the penalty spot in the 61st minute.
However, the Jockeys – without their absent player-manager and leading goalscorer Michael Shinn – rallied with goals from James Seymour and Paterson again levelling up the scoreline, before substitute Scott Paterson completed the comeback seven minutes from time.
The victory, which was Newmarket's third from their last four outings in all competitions, has moved them up to sixth place. Meanwhile, 13th-placed Haverhill are without a win from their previous three fixtures.
Elsewhere, the game between two of the division's form sides at Stoneylands went the way of visiting Thetford Town, who defeated hosting Long Melford 3-1.
Melford started the afternoon in second place – their highest ever position at Step 5 – but they came up short against the Brecklanders, who inflicted a first defeat in nine on Jamie Bradbury's men.
Michael Campbell, Elliot Smith and Johnny Conroy found the back of the net for 12th-placed Thetford, who have now won six of their last seven league games under the management of Matt Morton.
At the top of the table the Stowmarket Town bandwagon showed no signs of letting up as they won 4-0 away at Whitton United.
Club centurion James Mayhew was on the scoresheet alongside Matt Blake (2) and Tom Bullard for a side that are 15 points clear at the summit, having been unbeaten in the league this term, picking up 45 points from the 51 on offer.
Mildenhall Town continue to stutter down in 14th following their 1-0 defeat at home to Wroxham.
It looked as though Ricky Cornish's men were going to snap a three-match losing run in all competitions, only for ex-Norwich City player Simon Lappin to score an 88th-minute winning penalty for the visitors from Norfolk in an incident that saw the hosts' David Cooper red carded.
The hard times also continue for Hadleigh United, who are two points adrift at the bottom following their 4-1 loss on the road at Norwich United.
Kyle Cassell netted the only goal of the game for the Brettsiders, who have won just two of their 16 Premier Division fixtures in 2019/20.
Third-from-bottom Ely City lost by the same scoreline on Josh Revell's debut for the club at home against FC Clacton, but there was better news for Walsham-le-Willows under the lights on Friday evening.
A 3-1 home win over Kirkley & Pakefield – with goals coming from Lee Hammond, Ryan Clark and Jack Spampanato – lifted Willows up to 17th and maintained the unbeaten start to manager Fergus O'Callaghan's tenure.
Walsham have won four of O'Callaghan's games in charge, drawing the other three.
Up a level in the BetVictor Isthmian North Division, it was a good day for league-leading Bury Town, even though their trip to Hullbridge Sports was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
That is because second-placed Maldon & Tiptree were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Histon, meaning that Ben Chenery's Blues retain their place at the top by a single point, although the Essex side still have two games in hand.
There was drama at 14th-placed AFC Sudbury, where Mark Morsley's charges battled back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Witham United.
Sean Marks, Callum Harrison and Tom Dettmar's 84th-minute goal secured the hosting Yellows a share of the spoils against a Witham side that handed a debut off the bench to new signing Kieran Michaels from Haverhill Rovers.
One place above Sudbury in 13th are Soham Town Rangers, who had a day to forget at Aveley.
The Greens, who exited the FA Trophy at higher-league Hayes & Yeading United on Wednesday evening, were hammered 5-1 at Parkside.
Sam Mulready's eighth league goal of the campaign was all Soham had to show for their efforts while Alexander Akrofi helped himself to a hat-trick for the home team.
In the Step 3 BetVictor Southern Premier Central, 14th-placed Needham Market endured more league frustration as they were pegged late on by Rushall Olympic at Bloomfields.
Substitute Luke Ingram headed the hosting Marketmen in front in the 78th minute, but with two minutes remaining Olympic responded through Sam Whittall to secure themselves a share of the spoils.
To rub further salt into the Needham wound, the returning Adam Mills – making his first appearance since rejoining the club from Step 2 Braintree Town – was sent off for two bookable offences.
Down three steps in the First Division South, Halstead Town were involved in an eight-goal thriller at Barkingside that ended 4-4.
Hassan Ayten, Conor Scurlock and Chris Harris (2) were all on target for the seventh-placed Humbugs during a match that saw both sides lead at certain points.
In the First Division North, Cornard United (10th) bounced back from their 7-1 drubbing at Ipswich Wanderers last time out by beating Great Yarmouth Town 3-0 at home.
The improving Ards have now collected a healthy 22 points from their last 10 league games.
Debenham LC (7th) dropped out of the top six after they were beaten 4-1 on their own match by ninth-placed Needham Market Reserves.
Kevin Barker scored the only goal of the game for the Hornets, whose manager Guy Hayes stressed ahead of kick off that he was not getting carried away by their recent run of good form.
New signings Rhys Shulver and Michael King were unable to inspire Haverhill Borough (16th) to victory from their tough trip to league-leading Downham Town, who ran out 2-0 victors at Memorial Fields.
And 15th-placed AFC Sudbury Reserves were also beaten during their trip to the Fens, going down 5-0 at the hands of promotion-hunting March Town United.
Meanwhile, the games involving Lakenheath and Framlingham Town were both postponed.
* For reaction from these matches, plus a look ahead at what is to come next weekend, see the upcoming print editions. In addition, visit @liamapicella on Twitter this Monday to vote for your Iliffe Media East Team of the Week.