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7 Points Clear At The Top!

Newmarket Men I 7-0 Alford Men I
Goal scorers: Ollie Wade x 2, Josh Dawson x 2, Simon Harrington, Matt Holden & Mike Skelton
After snow enforced a winter break Newmarket played their first game for 3 weeks, the warm up was sluggish, but once the game started Newmarket fell into their stride and had their third placed opponents from Skegness under the cosh from the first minute.
The domination soon turned into goals, the first a lovely team goal starting with a ball from right back Dave Worrall, to Mike Skelton, he laid it off to Chris Leggett who fired the ball into the D, Matt Holden squared for Ollie Wade to put the ball into an empty net. Ollie Wade soon scored a second to double the lead.
Matt Holden scored the third goal, sweeping Leggett’s defence splitting pass into the far corner, leaving the opposing keeper helpless. This forced a change of tactics from the opposition, who switched to a half court press. This just heaped more pressure on their defence as they defended deeper and deeper, enabling Newmarket to force numerous penalty corners.
The practice the team put into short corners at this weeks training soon began to pay off, Josh Dawson scored twice from two different short corner routines before Simon Harrington scored the sixth from an improvised routine.
Just before half time, Alford forced a couple of penalty corners off their own, from one of these Chris Routs leapt like a salmon to deflect the drag flick for a long corner. The whistle went for half time, Newmarket had played well, but really should have had more goals to show for it! On reflection a mixture of near misses, good keeping and overcrowding the D were the main reasons.
The team were keen to extend their advantage and maintain their clean sheet in the second half, they managed the second part but in truth, didn’t get out of second gear and coasted through the half. Credit must be given to Alford who defended stubbornly and kept the number of clear scoring opportunities to a minimum.
The team were unlucky not to be awarded a couple of penalty strokes for shots that hit defenders on the line, from another sweeping routine involving Worrall and Will Wilson, Mark Pears was very unlucky when his shot deflected wide off the on rushing keepers helmet.
It took until a few minutes from the end for Newmarket to score the seventh, Wilson split the defence with a great pass, Holden’s shot was saved by the keeper and Mike Skelton finished high into the roof of the net.
Man of the match had a few contenders, Jordan Newnes maintained concentration well and marked the tricky centre forward out of the game, Ollie Wade was solid at left half, but man of the match was Chris Leggett for an outstanding display in the centre. His work rate and ball retention were crucial to the teams performance. Dick of the day was Mark Pears, who can consider himself very unlucky to be the recipient in a game with no match related contenders.
This was a solid display from Newmarket, with second placed City of Peterborough drawing at Long Sutton, the team have now opened a seven point gap between themselves and Peterborough. With third a long way back and playing Peterborough away next week, the team have the opportunity to put 10 points between them and second with five left to play.