Newmarket Ladies 1’s v Wisbech Ladies 2’s: 1-1 draw.
A rescheduled game for the ladies first team against Wisbech also created a top of the table clash.
Neither teams were looking to let valuable points slip and this reflected on the urgency and speed of the game.
Wisbech looked sharp in the first half taking advantage of quick breaks calling Louise Downs, Jasmine Wombwell and Zoe Bailey into action in defence. The ball was travelling very quickly across the pitch and long passes were not proving effective for either teams.
Newmarket were sneaking a few chances but luck was not on their side as shots travelled just wide. Beth Wombwell was looking hungry for a goal in the D and she had two brilliant goal attempts that the keeper read well. Hayley Stoneman and Claire McDonnell were two key players driving the ball forward and making interceptions in midfield. Angel Fayers, April Atkinson and Lydia Evans were also crucial to stopping Wisbech forward play.
The first half remained goalless and Wisbech again looked fired up starting the second passage of play. Both teams were warned by the umpires to calm down. Once this happened both teams started to connect with each other. Wisbech pounced on a loose ball, drove into the D and hit the target about 5 minutes into the second half. This was like a punch in the stomach for Newmarket but also a wake-up call. The play shifted Town’s way and again shots were whistling toward the Wisbech goal. A brilliant manoeuvre by Kerry Alderson saw space for Claire McDonnell to receive the ball, she crossed into the D and despite deflections Di Thomas managed to get on the end of the ball left post; ricocheting into the back of goal levelling the two teams.
There were some tense moments where Town were seriously under pressure in the defending D and Jade Atkinson in goal kept her side fighting; but it also presented them with the chance to make a quick break. Newmarket were winning the possession battle but they ran out of time.
A draw means that Town have surrendered the league top spot to Rutland as their win at the weekend took them a point ahead. With just a few games left to play Newmarket must look to take a win on all occasions.
Newmarket Men’s 1st XI 5 – 1 Rutland Men’s 1st XI
Newmarket entertained a young vibrant Rutland team at home this week looking to keep the pressure on Wisbech and hoping to extend their advantage over Cambridge South after their defeat least week.
The first 20 minutes were tough, with an extra man in midfield Ollie Wade, Alex Andreou, Chris Leggett and Josh Dawson were outnumbered and overrun, fortunately Newmarket’s experienced back line of Will Wilson, Simon Harrington, Jordan Newnes and Dave Worrall remained compact and market their men well, repelling wave after wave of attack. Too often when the team did win the ball back they conceded cheap possession to Rutland, making for a fairly scrappy game.
As the half wore on Newmarket resistance began to frustrate Rutland, Newnes to mark his man out of the game allowing Harrington to step out of the back to bring an extra man in midfield. Gradually Newmarket began to keep the ball better, making it possible to counter the wide open Rutland at ease. They were now able to pick out the runs made by Mike Skelton and Harry Bell, in turn bringing high forward Mark Pears into the game.
Newmarket scored two quick fire goals just before half time, the first a lovely team goal. Wilson won possession and played it down the line to Wade, who fired it to Pears at the top of the, he drew the last defender and slipped in Leggett who lifted it above the advancing keeper. Rutland looked stunned and Newmarket capitalised, Wade again finding Pears on the by line, his reverse stick pass was rattled against the stanchion in the far corner.
Rutland did finally bring keeper Chris Routs into action just before half time, a Rutland player deflected the ball just in front of Routs who pulled of a crucial reaction save with his glove.
The second half was much of the same, Rutland over committing in attack and Newmarket picking them off at ease. The third goal was another free flowing move involving Bell, Wade who fed Skelton, the keeper closed him down and he squared to Pears to tap into an open net.
The fourth came from a slick penalty corner, deflected in by Leggett to seal a well deserved brace. Skelton scored the fifth late on, but in truth if it wasn’t for some outstanding saves from the keeper and a comical miss by the otherwise outstanding Dawson it should have been many more.
Rutland grabbed a late consolation goal from a penalty corner, Routs saved the initial strike which bounced off the post into the path of a Rutland player who forced it home from an angle, there was still time for a bit of hand bags before the final whistle that was sensibly dealt with by the umpires.
Man of the match was Simon Harrington for an outstanding performance at centre back, saving a penalty corner on the line, nearly always distributing well and always being a vocal supportive presence.
With the second team wining well at Bourne Deeping and the recalled Mark Pears playing a key part in nearly all the goals the captains will have a difficult task selecting their squads for this week. The first team play away at Ely in a local derby as their push on to try and clinch a third successive title!