Newmarket 2nd XI 2 Cambridge City Vets 2
Newmarket hosted table top in Cambridge City in a game they must win in order to keep their promotion dream alive going into the last game of the season. Although the importance of this fixture was clear nobody would have been left in any doubt after a Churchillian pre match speech from skipper Pete Boyle.
Aware of the attacking threat posed by their opponents Newmarket deployed Darren ‘the Dazzler’ Jenkins as a one man shield in front of a back four of Prentice, Atkinson, Herrington and Boyle. On the few occasions that this 5 man wall was breached in the first half CCity found young Seth Bailey in irrepressible form between the Newmarket sticks.
A full stretch save from a city penalty was the start of a series of outstanding stops which kept city at bay and saw Newmarket go into the break with the scores level.
Although City had dominated possession and chances organised and resolute defending meant the 0 – 0 scoreline was a fair one.
The half time team talk required few tactical changes and instead focused on ensuring total commitment and dedication to the cause over what was undoubtedly going to be another hard 35 minutes.
All 15 members of the squad played their part in a fine second half.
City brought their right winger inside having got no change out of Mungo Prentice in the first half. Unfortunately for them Adrian Atkinson picked up where Prentice left off placing their danger man neatly in his pocket for the rest of the game.
On the side line coach Nick Thorpe utilised his bench, rotating the front men and keeping legs fresh in all attacking positions. Newmarket started to create chances of their own with Lee Blades going close on a number of occasions. It was following one such attack that City broke and their forward found himself one on one with Bailey. He made no mistake and town were one down.
That lead was soon doubled. The City centre half, who up until then had spent his game shackled by either Nunes or Jenkins, played a neat one two before the ball bubbled up off a defender’s stick and he half volleyed past Bailey’s ear. In truth it was a fine finish and the way City celebrated was testimony to how hard they had fought for what they now thought was a match winning lead.
With 10 minutes to go Newmarket could have been forgiven for letting heads drop. However, spurred on by a decent sized crowd, they fought back valiantly.
The City centre forward, who had put himself about all day, over stepped the mark and spent some time in the sin bin. A man up Newmarket pressed higher. Peter Reed moved into the middle of the park replacing the less creative Nunes. It was a quick break involving Reed and Rob Green that found Lee Blades unmarked at the far post. His diving finish with 5 minutes left gave Newmarket hope.
Still a man to the good Newmarket pressed forward. Gallop was tireless with his running down the right flank, as was Jordan Walker down the left.
Coach Nick Thorpe smelled blood. He threw on a second forward and took the game to City. Hosegood and Blades took full advantage of the tiring City back line and when Reid fed Green for a second time Blades found space to ram home the equalizer.
Any one of the 15 players could have been man of the match. Prentice and Atkinson marshalled the most prolific forward line in the league superbly. Nunes and Jenkins covered every blade of grass in midfield. Boyle led by example and Blades played the lone striker role perfectly all game. However, the unanimous man of the match was young Seth Bailey in goal.
To saw he made countless stops would paint the wrong impression of the number of chances City had. In truth he made several saves but many were outstanding. Several, including the penalty save, were early in the game. His performance gave Newmarket the belief that they could stay in the game until the final stages where their superior fitness would hopefully snatch a result. The way City celebrated their first and second goals was testimony to the fact that they too believed there was no way past Bailey on Saturday.
Newmarket travel to St Ives next week knowing that a win can send them to their second successive promotion.