07:00 Monday 05 May 2014

Ely survive drop after a stalemate is enough

Written byAARON MASON

Andrew Claydon Andrew Claydon

Andrew Claydon bagged the goal that helped Ely ensure their Thurlow Nunn League, Premier Division survival in a 1-1 draw at home to already-relegated Woodbridge.

With relegation rivals Diss crashing 4-1 at Wivenhoe, the result was academic in the end for the Robins despite Claydon’s second-half equaliser after the visitors had gone ahead before the break.

But manager Brady Stone was thrilled his side kept their eyes on the ball.

He said: “We started really well and had two or three good chances, but they scored from a corner with their first shot of the game.

“We knew Diss were 3-0 down at half time and I told the boys the pressure was off us, but they said Diss could still score three goals and we needed to win, so I was impressed with their attitude.

“We pressed and pressed and finally we got the goal and a draw turned out to be enough in the end, but the boys were fantastic on Saturday.

“I’m very happy for the club that we stayed up and we had 169 at the game, which was our biggest attendance of the season.

“But I’m most happy for the players because of the way they’ve stuck at it through a tough season which has had a lot of challenges.”

Mark Bonner expressed his thanks to the league as CRC waved goodbye to the competition after eight years with a 3-0 defeat at Stanway.

CRC had been due to be play at home, but the game was switched to Stanway to help keep the R Costings Abbey pitch in good condition for the second leg of Cambridge United’s Skrill Premier play-off semi-final against Halifax yesterday.

But while the result was not the way boss Bonner would have liked to have signed off with CRC – United’s development team will play friendlies next season – he said the league had played a useful role in producing players for the club.

He said: “We’re very appreciative of the league and its members because they’ve been really welcoming and it’s been a really brilliant education for the players.”

Jake Wayne’s goal was not enough as an under-strength Newmarket went down 4-1 at Kirkley & Pakefield with one eye on today’s Red Insure Cup final against Felixstowe & Walton at Diss.

The hosts went ahead only for the Jockeys to level through Wayne’s header.

But Kirkley regained the lead before half time and added two more in the second half.

Manager Kevin Grainger said: “We took seven youth team players with us and five had never played at that level before, but we wanted to rest some players for the cup final.

“We didn’t deserve to win, but 2-1 or 3-1 would probably have been a fairer reflection.”

Luke Parkinson was on target for Haverhill Rovers as they went down 2-1 at home to Walsham Le Willows.

Parkinson gave Rovers the edge after just three minutes by tapping in Ben Robinson’s cross at the far post, but the visitors responded with two goals before the interval.

Boss Dean Greygoose said: “I’m very pleased with how we played and how we went about it despite the result.

“The only thing I’ve got to look at with our player identification with the future is in terms of the physical side.

“They were just bigger and physically stronger than us and both their goals came from crosses which we couldn’t cope with.

“They were just better in both penalty boxes physically, but second half I still thought we played the better football.

“We still need to improve on our final third play and our finishing, though, but I’m very pleased with the season and how we’re progressing.

“I was gutted when I realised we couldn’t win promotion, but I’ve got to take positives from what what we’ve seen and we’ve finished in our highest league position for 25 years.”

Mildenhall almost rained on Hadleigh’s parade only to lose 2-1 to a late winner that saw the home side crowned champions.

The hosts went ahead after 10 minutes and their chances of clinching the win needed to secure the title increased when Mildenhall’s Steve Holder was sent off after collecting a second yellow card midway through the second half.

But when Michael Harvey got the visitors back on terms 10 minutes from time, it looked as if the crown would suddenly be heading to Brightlingsea.

Hadleigh threw everything forward though, and eventually got the winner they needed three minutes from the end.

Boss Christian Appleford, who came on for the last five minutes, said: “It completely typified our season because we had eight players missing and we went there with a bench of one senior player, an under-18 player we got an hour before kick-off and myself.

“Two of my lads worked all night as well and three were playing with knocks, so everything that could go against us did.

“But we went there and thought `let’s show what we’re about’ and we gave a good account of ourselves in the circumstances.”

Godmanchester lost 2-1 at Felixstowe with Jamie Blackwell netting for the visitors.

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