Norton Athletic 2 Beccles Caxton 1
Norton progress into Semi Finals of Charity Cup
Norton welcomed high flying Ang Comb 3 outfit Beccles Caxton to The Highfield for this first round match against the holders in this seasons Bungay Charity Cup.
Caxton were in fine form and still playing regular season games whilst for Norton we had played just one match in the previous 5 weeks and were no doubt a little ring rusty.
Archie Crossan and Daniel MacDonald returned to the starting line-up which also saw the inclusion of inform Reserve player Scott Raven whilst missing were James Hardy and James McElhinney.
The game kicked off in exotic temperatures and there was a good crowd in attendance.
Norton the underdogs on paper took the game to Caxton from the off and forced all the early play forcing several corners and early on Carl Cooper struck a rasping drive that forced the Caxton keeper to flick the ball onto the bar and over.
Norton were certainly looking the more threatening and when the Caxton keeper gifted the ball to Norton, Daniel MacDonald suddenly found himself bearing down on goal but somehow the Caxton keeper got back across to prevent the goal and atone for his original mistake.
Norton kept pressing and the Caxton rear-guard were certainly looking uncomfortable and when the Caxton keeper had another horrible moment by gifting Norton the ball again this time it was to Rory Spinks and he showed great composure to slot the ball home.
Caxton so far had offered little and all their approach play was fairly direct and was easily dealt with by the superb Norton defence comprising of Archie Crossan, Ben Burcham and Mike Ball.
Frustration was starting to creep into the Caxton side particularly for their forward who for no apparent put his head into Maccas face and was correctly shown his marching orders.
To be fair to Caxton they regrouped well and probably were playing better with ten men and forced a terrific and brave save from Adam Robinson who saved a shot with his face to keep the lead in tact but in truth this was all he had to do in the first half that was controlled by Norton.
The second half was all about game management and keeping hold of the ball and making the ten men of Caxton do the running around and by and large the game plan worked a treat with every Norton player keeping and using the ball well.
The lead was doubled in the 53rd minute and had an element of luck about it as Scott Raven got down the right and his cross was well struck and flew past everyone into the far top corner to give Norton a deserved cushion.
This allowed them to relax even more and continue with the game plan, but Caxton gave it a real go and started to come with more purpose and from one breach of the Norton back line a goal looked on the cards, but Ben Burcham got back well to hook the ball from the line.
Norton continued to look a threat and Danny Hoadley had a couple of efforts high over the bar but in truth it was comfortable for Norton, that was until the 89th minute when a tiring Ben Smith carelessly conceded possession with a blind sided backwards pass and Caxton punished us by running on to score and deny the defence a deserved clean sheet.
With 6 minutes of injury time to be played it was now nail-biting stuff but Norton continued to remain composed and used time up well by holding the ball long enough and as such we secure the victory and semi final place against either Bungay Town Reserves or Spexhall that is being played on Wednesday.
This was a polished performance with great effort and attitude by all and a real pleasure to be part of.
The Read Bros MoM goes to Mike Ball.