Skelton and Wilson Seal League Win

Long Sutton II 2 – 3 Newmarket I
Goal scorers: Mike Skelton, Will Wilson x 2
After the disappointment of Horncastle conceding the team’s last home game of the season the previous week, the team travelled for their last trip of the season to Lincolnshire, hoping they won’t have to visit the county at all next season! With their opponents having drawn at home with second placed Peterborough and beaten third and fourth placed Alford and Bourne Deeping respectively, the team expected a tough game.
Newmarket were fortunate that Long Sutton were able to provide two umpires so the game could take place. The day was unseasonably warm for March and the warm up was distinctly average, but Newmarket started well. With Dave Worrall re-filling the pen holders at work, Captain Will Wilson moved right winger Josh Dawson to full back and centre forward Mark Pears onto the wing.
Newmarket started brilliantly, almost scoring in the first minute after a wonderful passing move involving every player. Forwards Matt Holden and Mike Skelton linked up brilliantly with the midfield four of Pears, Ollie Wade, Chris Leggett & Alex Andreou. Newmarket through a combination of poor finishing and good keeping were unable to take the lead.
After about 10 minutes the game was stopped for an injury to Wade, he went in for challenge with the Sutton centre back, who Newmarket felt intentionally went through the man, knocking his front teeth out. With promotion secured and the second team fighting for promotion, Newmarket had only taken 11 players and were fortunate that Wade was able to play on.
Newmarket did take the lead from another free flowing move, Chris Leggett played the ball into Holden, who squared for Skelton to slam home. Newmarket continued to press for a second, Holden winning many short corners which when Long Sutton didn’t defend well Newmarket wasted. By their fifth short corner of the game the team almost got it right, Harrington rocket striking the defenders foot on the line, Wilson stepped up and converted the penalty flick doubling the lead.
Newmarket were reduced to 10 men minutes before the interval. Having beaten a man at the top of the D, Andreou wound up to shoot, just before he connected with the ball he was taken out by what looked to many as a spear tackle straight from a rugby field. Having been involved in one tussle already, it was perhaps a little surprising that some form of punishment wasn’t issued to the centre back. To rub salt in the wound Andreou was green carded for swearing, which was subsequently upgraded to a yellow, leaving many scratching their heads while the Long Sutton defender lined up to defend the short corner.
Newmarket held out when down to 10 and when Andreou returned pushed on for more goals, with the keeper beaten Skelton was unable to put it past the defender on the line, and others wasted good opportunities. One a warm day, Newmarket began to tire and the younger Long Sutton side started to hit Newmarket on the break. From one counter the umpire deemed a jab tackle from Wilson to have been a foul, Long Sutton’s drag flick expert stepped up and confused keeper Chris Routs with a slower ball to his bottom right corner.
Newmarket went back on the attack looking to re-establish their 2 goal lead. Holden won another short corner which Wilson flicked into the top left hand corner, making the score 3-1. To their credit Long Sutton didn’t give up and forced 3 or 4 more short corners of their own, one of which Harrington abandoned his post allowing Long Sutton to score in the other bottom corner. With the clock running down, Newmarket played possession hockey and kept the ball in the top left corner until the final whistle went. The score line suggests a close game, but if Newmarket could convert a higher percentage of the many chances they create, they would have been out of sight by half time.
Man of the match was Josh Dawson for an assured display at right back, dick of the day was Simon Harrington, for a combination of the DIY on his glove box and abandoning his post! Next week is the last game of the 4NW season away at St Ives. The team will be looking for their 20th win from 22 games, taking them to 61 points ensuring they are at least 16 points clear of whoever finishes in second place.