Newmarket Men’s 1s: 3-2 win vs Norwich City Men’s 3s (Home)
(Atkinson, Skelton, Wilson)
This week, Newmarket Men’s 1s faced Norwich City 3s and had the opportunity to knock the visitors off top spot in the league – an occurrence that would go down extremely well in Town’s ranks due to the manner in which the previous meeting unfolded.
Newmarket’s confidence had an early knock when, as the team barrelled through the car park on their pre-match warm up, experienced centre back Simon Harrington appeared, took one look at the assembled squad, then inquired of Captain Matt Holden, “Is that it?”. In fact, that was not “it”, as the customary session of “Where’s Wilson?” was still to take place before pushback – surprisingly, Walker Books is yet to cash in on this excellent publishing opportunity.
With a slightly depleted squad available for selection due to injuries and other commitments, Town’s shaven-headed tactical mastermind had picked a more-than-capable team of 12, including debutante goalkeeper Laurence Chapman. The “Tinkerman” (or on this week’s evidence, “Thinkerman”…) also made the decision to revert to a tried-and-tested 4-4-2 formation, although this choice caused consternation among certain younger members of the squad as they had no idea where a left half was supposed to play. Fortunately though, in the case of Louis “strong like bear” Hrebeniak, this was of little consequence as he just plays left back anyway.
Newmarket looked good from the outset and soon settled in as the better side, playing some excellent short passing moves but failing to capitalise on a decent amount of possession in and around the opposing ‘D’. However, Norwich were dangerous on the break and at one point managed to outpace the solid defensive line of Darren Jenkins, Jordan Newnes, Harrington & Will Wilson, only to be thwarted by a superb sliding save from Chapman. Perhaps buoyed by this chance, Norwich began to grow into the game and only the best efforts of Town’s back four kept the score at nil-nil.
It was now Newmarket’s turn to play on the break and they did so with gusto, Sam Smith and Mike Skelton dropping deep before driving the ball forward, exchanging passes with Holden, “snap like twig” Hrebeniak and Chris Leggett as they went. Through some excellent movement off the ball Town managed to create a handful of chances, but these were well stopped by “Shrek” in the Norwich goal. Newmarket then resorted to winning penalty corners, rotating the striker and stopper but alas the ball flew narrowly wide on each occasion.
At last, Town made the breakthrough, in the shape of a trademark piece of skill from the returning James Atkinson. After some good play down the left hand side, the ball found its way to Holden who picked out Atkinson just outside the ‘D’. The striker jinked past his man with a neat flick and broke into the semicircle before unleashing a fizzing strike low into the backboard. 1-0 and a well-deserved lead.
Now Newmarket’s duck was broken, the second goal was not long in arriving; the ball was injected to an unlikely stopper in Leggett, he did his job to perfection and the resulting strike was deflected in by Skelton at the far post. The half time whistle blew with Newmarket 2-0 to the good, an excellent half from the yellow and blue machine.
The second half saw the introduction of youngster Ollie Trent at what may have been left half, replacing “cool like IES showers” Hrebeniak. Norwich continued to be a threat on the break and Chapman was called upon to leave the comfort of his goal on several more occasions, flattening a delightful catalogue of City forwards. However, at once such juncture, Norwich were alert to his methods and managed to sneak the ball past him, only to find the excellent Newnes positioned on the goal line to block.
Then, after more end-to-end stuff, things turned sour. The game, which had threatened handbags on a couple of occasions, ground to a halt as a shoving match erupted on the Newmarket 25 yard line. Sticks whirled, a Norwich player hit the deck and Harrington began to trundle towards the fray, but alas the distance was too great so he sent Wilson instead.
The end result was a 5-minute-yellow for a Norwich player and a 10-minute-yellow each (I risked life and limb to determine this information –L) for Leggett and Newnes. Unfortunately this left Newmarket short at the back so Hrebeniak was reintroduced in place of Trent, who was unlucky to come off but an extra defender was alas needed to reinforce Town’s back line. The game was now 9 v 10 and then 9 v 11, and although the home side defended valiantly, a shot that was initially blocked by a defender and then the keeper fell to a City striker who coaxed the ball home. 2-1.
Once Newnes and Leggett were back on the pitch, Newmarket began to push for a 3rd to put the game beyond doubt. After some well fought play in both halves, Town were awarded another short corner. Up stepped Wilson and in went the goal, a resounding strike low into the corner. 3-1 and what could have been game over, but credit must go to City for not lying down and managing to pull a late goal back after a handful of short corners. This proved no more than a consolation however, as the final whistle blew and Newmarket ran out deserved winners from an exciting and tightly contested game. Final score, 3-2 to the blue and yellow machine.
MOTM – Laurence Chapman. For his excellent 1v1 (and at one juncture, 3v1) skills and general Manuel Neuer attitude. Also may have something to do with Chapman junior supplying the squad with buns after the final whistle.
DOTD – Opposition number 11 (or it might have been 8). The less said about this, the better.
Newmarket Men’s 2s: 1-4 loss vs UEA Men’s 2s (Away)
A beautiful spring day welcomed Newmarket to the great facilities on offer at the Sportspark in Norwich, home to the University of East Anglia. For our drivers, there will be a few sleepless nights for the next couple of weeks as the local constabulary were out in force on the A11. With their fast acting laxative radar guns hidden around fast bends there were several squeaky bum moments. Things didn’t improve much on arrival either as the previous game was running late by about 15 minutes. It soon became apparent that the words “organisation” and “student” were never meant for the same sentence. For a while it seemed UEA had a team of only 8 players, but presumably as hangovers subsided and legovers were completed, the rest of the team staggered together (those were the days my friend!). The umpires too were an unbalanced mix with one at 7ft 4ins and the other 4ft 7 ins and for a while it seemed as though they had forgotten their whistles as the game was about 10 minutes old before one was heard.
Martin McCourt made his debut in goal for the 2s this season, as did Chris Evans in midfield. The back line whose job it would be to keep these young, fit, skillful students at bay was Marc ‘Mungo’ Prentice, Andy Baker, John Benedikz and Peter Booth. Alongside Evans in the midfield was Captain Drew Wood, Daniel Labuschagne and Johnny Bunker while the fast paced, often canny attack was provided by Lee ‘Budda’ Blades and Mark ‘Arsenal’ Pears. Subs Rory Podd and Oscar Kenny made regular and important contributions to the game.
Despite starting the game with only 10 players after the previous nights debauchery, UEA were still able to mount deep and penetrating attacks and it was only a matter of 10 minutes before they took the lead. Having lost 6:0 to UEA at home, Newmarket were keen to minimise the damage and the team worked hard carving out their own opportunities. Several times the umpires needed to have a tete a tete to discuss what they hadn’t seen in reference to rules they didn’t know and somehow make a decision that didn’t result in a riot. Luckily both teams saw the humour in the situation and the game was good spirited throughout. Budda and Pears combined well up front and put the UEA keeper to work, but we just could not find the net. Now at full strength, UEA continued to pressure Newmarket with some good passing combinations and it wasn’t long before a second and third goal were added before half time.
Having lost the first half 3 nil, Newmarket were looking for a better team performance in the second half. Possession was retained longer and Newmarket started to look more settled on the ball and began to string a few more passes together. Youngsters Podd and Kenny played well, both gaining valuable match time at Senior level and looking more comfortable when in possession. Midway through the second half, Newmarket won a free hit about 27m out from the UEA goal. It was drilled into the ‘D’ by Baker with Swiss precision straight towards goal and Budda showed the most amazing foresight and intuition (which is the hallmark of his game) to get the slightest of edges on the ball, deflecting it perfectly past the flailing keeper. Budda peeled away celebrating in his usual Cockney Rhyming slang that only he understands, but the words Donald Duck and James Blunt were heard.
If Newmarket were hoping for a late come back, it wasn’t to be and UEA responded with a strong attack straight from the restart. They managed to cut through the defence leaving McCourt stranded off his line and the UEA forward only a metre out poised to slot the ball in on the left hand side. Out of the blue, and always the last man standing on the goal line, Mungo appeared in a magical puff of Marlboro smoke and blocked the shot, perfectly turning it round the post for a long corner and securing the MoM award. The young striker was gob smacked but UEA had the last laugh as they scored a very well worked fourth goal shortly before time.
Newmarket took a little comfort from a 1:1 draw in the second half but the damage was done in the first. Still only 2 points separating the bottom 5 teams in Div 4 and Newmarket just outside the drop zone on goal difference, the last 3 games of the season will need resolve and determination in what will be a nail biting finish.
Newmarket Ladies’ 1s: 1-1 draw vs CoP Ladies’ 2s (Home)
Left: Newmarket celebrate after Cockeril levels the score. Right: Keeper Sue Bullimore smothers a shot as her team back up.
Click here to view photographs of the match by Michael Bennett.
Newmarket Ladies’ 2s: 0-12 loss vs Cambridge South Ladies’ 1s (Away)
Newmarket Ladies’ 3s: 0-5 loss vs Cambridge Nomads Ladies’ 2s (Home)
Above: Newmarket defend a short corner.
Click here to view photographs of the match by Michael Bennett.