Newmarket Men’s team returned to try and retain their trophy from last year, a feat only previously completed once. Newmarket took a strong squad with Chris Routs in goal, defenders Will Wilson (Captain), Simon Harrington, Jordan Newnes & Dave Worrall. Midfielders Ollie Wade, Alex Andreou, Chris Leggett, Harry Bell and Josh Dawson making his first appearance after gaining another five knuckles on his index finger in early March. Forwards Matt Holden, Mike Skelton and rookie Rob Green completed the squad. The format was 2 groups of 5 playing 20 minutes one way in a round robin, with the top 2 from each group contesting the semi finals and then final.
Newmarket 2 – 0 Norwich Dragons
The first game was on grass and very competitive, with the surface suiting Harrington’s long ball game he was imperious at the back, for once Wilson wasn’t complaining about it as he consistently picked out forwards Skelton and Holden with ease. With the midfield of Wade, Bell & Leggett getting up to support Newmarket overran Dragons. Holden scored the first, beating the keeper from an angle. He then doubled the lead, collecting Harrington’s long ball, playing a 1-2 with Skelton and finishing into an empty net.
Newmarket 1 – 0 Lowestoft Railway
This was another competitive match on the water based Astro, keeper Routs was required to make a few saves but the Railway keeper kept them in it. Jordan Newnes and Dave Worrall defended resolutely. The game signalled Dawson’s return and he was unlucky not to score from a couple of penalty corners. Rob Green also played well, sending Leggett through to shoot narrowly wide and showing some touches that bode well for the future. Newmarket eventually took the lead, Andreou who distributed well throughout had the initial strike on goal, the keeper saved again, but Skelton reacted first to force home the rebound.
Newmarket 1 – 0 Harleston Combination
Newmarket dominated long spells of this game but were occasionally troubled by their youthful opponents. They retained possession well with Rob Green again standing out and Ollie Wade covering lots of pitch and using the ball well down the left flank and Harry Bell firing some great balls into the D from the right it was only a matter of time. The goal when it came was from a free flowing move. Leggett weighted a great pass into Holden’s path, after standing still and admiring his pass for a while he got on his bike and met Holden’s pull back at the top of the D to fire into the far corner.
Newmarket 0 – 2 Norfolk Pies
Having already qualified for the semi finals Newmarket took this strong team a little too lightly and were punished. Too often they tried to force the ball down the middle where pies were strong and they got punished with two well taken quick fire goals. Newmarket did their best to get into the games with Wade, Dawson and Bell forcing penalty corners which Newmarket were unable to capitalise on. Keeper Routs made a couple of decent saves to keep the score respectable. The 3 previous victories were enough to ensure that Newmarket finished second and progressed to the semi Finals.
Newmarket 1 – 0 Marvel Loss
The game against the group A winners containing some familiar faces from local rivals Ely City and last season’s league competitors Bourne Deeping was a little too feisty for some. Newmarket dominated possession with Wade again excelling down the left flank, creating numerous chances which the team failed to take. Marvel Loss were quick on the break and Routs had to be alert to deflect a reverse stick strike over. As the game wore on Newmarket’s subs probably made the difference as they had more in their legs. Newmarket eventually took the lead, when Will Wilson fired the ball towards the far post and the defender deflected in at the far post for an own goal. The final whistle went and Newmarket were through to the final.
Newmarket 2 – 0 Norfolk Pies
Having lost to this team earlier on grass Newmarket were grateful to be able to put the record straight on the Astro. Dominating throughout against a team full of players who have played at higher levels. Newmarket retained possession superbly, passing the ball quickly and early often leaving pies chasing shadows. Newmarket switched the ball from left to right, Worrall made his way towards the D, picked out Holden who squared to Skelton to fire into the corner. During the next 5 minutes Newmarket were unlucky not to score again, Leggett going close and Dawson firing across the goal line with Wade unable to get a touch at the far post.
Pies began to press forward to an equaliser, leaving space at the back. Harrington rolled a 16 yard to Wilson, who aerialled the ball over the whole pies team for Holden to run onto as he approached the D. Holden beat the goalie and rattled the ball into the far corner from an angle.
Pies threw everything at Newmarket, but defenders Wilson, Harrington, Newnes and Worrall were resolute and when they were broken Routs made a couple of crucial blocks to preserve his 5th clean sheet of the day. Newmarket held out and retained their title.
Player of the Day
With 5 clean sheets goalie Routs and his defence of Wilson, Harrington, Newnes and Worrall had a shout. Wade was excellent on the left, Skelton tireless up front but scoring 3 and assisting another 3 of the teams 7 goals, it could only go to Matt Holden. If the veteran can maintain that form next season in div 2 then the team will have a create chance to maintain their presence in that league after 3 successive promotions.