Dragons so close to unseating Jockeys
Newmarket Town 2 Wivenhoe Town 2
Newmarket Town: 1) Niall Conroy 2) Adam Dalby© 3) Paul Betson 4) Matty Bonner 5) Mark Webster (Jake Wayne 57) 6) Aaron Maskell 7) Jack Higgs 8) Roger McGeorge 9) Richard Chadwick (Lee Clift 63) 10) Ross Paterson 11) Deaken Napier . Unused Subs: 15) Kevin Pearsons
Wivenhoe Town: 1) Peter Haxell 2) Ben Lampon 3)Miguel Nydam 4)Callum Rogers 5)Tim Dennis 6) Dan Homeward (Oliver O’Hare 75) 7)Peter Maina 8) Marley Spindler 9) Ben Parkin (Luke Goldie-McSorley 75) 10) Ben Connell© 11) Tyler Rogers (Jordan White 72) Unused Subs: None
Referee: Mr S Pawley
A thrilling game at Cricket Field Lane survived a mystifying second-half sending-off to end all square, although the Dragons could and should have won appropriately, by a cricket score.
On a bright, sunny, but blowy afternoon Newmarket kicked off the game with the Dragons wearing their red and black away kit and playing towards the entrance of the ground and a group of magnificent horse chestnuts. Wivenhoe began much the brighter of the two teams and first threatened on six minutes when Marley Spindler twisted and turned on the left to beat the full-back and get in a decent cross which goalkeeper Conroy claimed. The Dragons were looking sharp and two minutes later Ben Lampon made a surging run down the right. Ben’s cross came off the totally bald pate of Bonner and was brought down by Marley Spindler in a central position; Marley, in turn laid the ball off to Tyler Rogers, who struck a scorching first time shot from 25 yards low into the far corner of Conroy’s goal to put the Dragons one nil up . It was a peach of a shot from Tyler at the end of a high-quality move.
Wivenhoe so nearly doubled their lead in the tenth minute when a throw in on the right found Ben Parkin about 7 yards from goal ; Ben turned and hit a low shot to the near post, which was pushed away with an excellent one-handed save by Conroy. Ben almost turned provider two minutes later as he turned about 25 yards out and bore down on goal; with a defender in front of him Ben laid the ball off to Peter Maina , who was about to shoot as Bonner stuck out a leg to take the ball off his toe.
Ben Parkin was providing all sorts of trouble for the Newmarket defence and on 15 minutes his 35 yard shot flew just past the post and then a minute later he sent Peter Maina away down the right hand side. Pete put a low cross into the 6 yard box, which was met at the far post by Ben whose side- footed shot was brilliantly saved again by Conroy.
The Dragons were all over Newmarket and could easily have been three goals up; it was inevitable therefore, that Newmarket would score from their first shot on target and on 21 minutes a ball across the edge of the box ran to Higgs who hit a spectacular half volley into the top left-hand corner of Peter Haxell’s goal. It was a fantastic strike from Higgs and completely out of the blue. The Dragons however, rightly took this equalising goal as an affront and straight from the kick-off Marley Spindler proceeded down the right wing before putting a cross to the far post which Ben Parkin struck home on the half volley from about 7 yards to restore Wivenhoe’s lead; it was no less than the Dragons deserved.
Having restored order by once again taking the lead The Dragons went looking for more goals. On 29 minutes Tyler Rogers’ cross was met by Ben Parkin, who set up Peter Maina to hit a volley which was blocked. Miguel Nydam crossed the ball back in and it was Ben Parkin again, who got to the ball, this time with an overhead kick, but he was unable to direct it with enough accuracy or power. Four minutes later Ben was buzzing in and around the box again, and in his second attempt to volley a bouncing ball accidentally kicked Webster in the face. It was blatantly accidental and the incident took place so quickly that Ben could not have known that Webster was stooping to head the ball as he went to kick it. It seemed harsh therefore, that Ben should be booked by referee Mr Pawley.
There was a short hold-up whilst Webster was led from the pitch to receive treatment for his bloodied nose. Once play resumed Marley Spindler produced a clever little shimmy about 25 yards from goal, which shook off the defender and allowed him the space to turn and hit shot just wide of the post. With three minutes to go until half-time Ben Lampon got forward once more down the right hand side before hitting a superb low curling pass across the penalty area to Ben Parkin who was running in at the far post. Ben had timed his run to perfection and side footed a first time shot, which 95 times out of 100 would have produced a goal, but Conroy was having a masterful game and produced another brilliant reaction save at the expense of a corner. From the corner kick Ben Parkin volleyed the ball wide.
The final few minutes of the first half and time added on saw Newmarket produce concerted attacking for the first time in the game. McGeorge hit a low bobbling shot beyond Peter Haxell’s right-hand post and then Ben Lampon was unlucky to be booked for a second innocuous and accidental looking trip on Higgs who made the most of what contact there had been. From the resultant free-kick, Bonner got his head to the ball at the far post, but Peter Haxall dived low to his right to fall on the ball.
The second half began with Newmarket earning their first corner of the match, which was hit low to the near post and easily cleared. Tim Dennis then did well to fend off an attacker after a through ball. Newmarket were looking much better organised and playing as a more compact unit than in the first half and there was less space in midfield for the Dragons to exploit. Wivenhoe nevertheless produced a decent chance a little after the hour mark as Ben Parkin found Marley Spindler, who spread the ball wide to Tyler Rogers on the left. Tyler advanced into the box before producing a low shot, which was saved by Conroy’s legs.
Newmarket carried much more of an attacking threat in the second half and on 66 minutes a cross from the right was headed past the far post by McGeorge. The Jockeys looked particularly dangerous down the right, where the diminutive Napier kept the Dragons busy with a combination of pace and trickery. On 67 minutes Napier burst past Miguel Nydam before putting in a low cross which Paterson converted from close range to level the scores. It was tough on Wivenhoe but Newmarket had been looking dangerous and Tim Dennis did well a minute after the goal to shield the ball holding off a challenge to let the ball run out after it had been punted forward into the box.
Although the Jockeys were now getting the whip-hand the Dragons were defending well and it was a bitter blow therefore when on 68 minutes referee Mr Pawley delivered a straight red card to Miguel Nydam apparently for jumping into Paterson. Miguel was absolutely distraught as he left the field of play and having played so well it was unbelievably harsh on the Dragons to have to play the final 20 minutes a man down.
Despite fate once more seeming to conspire against Wivenhoe, they should have gone ahead for a third time five minutes later. Callum Rogers made a fantastic run from the back and beat two defenders before rounding Conroy and shooting for a goal from the corner of the 6 yard box. Having at last managed to get the ball past the brilliant Conroy it looked a goal all the way, but typically of Wivenhoe’s luck the ball struck Bonner’s leg on the line and was cleared.
With 10 minutes left, Peter Haxall made a decent diving save and then with five minutes to go Marley Spindler and Tim Dennis became the third and fourth Wivenhoe players to be booked by Mr Pawley; Marley for a rugged tackle, which nevertheless appeared to win the ball, but may have been overaggressive, and Tim for dissent. As the game drew to a close it was more end to end and with three minutes to go Pete Maina sent a volley whistling past Conroy’s left-hand post from about 10 yards before making a fine run down the left , which took him into the 6 yard area before his attempted low cross was blocked.
With two minutes left Marley Spindler was hit from behind about 20 yards from goal; it was a foul every bit as bad as any for which Wivenhoe players had been booked, but on this occasion no yellow card was seen. Luke Goldie-McSorley took the free-kick but hit the ball over the crossbar. There were also shouts for a penalty as Luke was brought down just inside the box, but to be fair to Mr Pawley, Luke may have just fallen over the leg of the defender rather the defender actively fouling him.
In injury time Peter Haxall became the fifth Wivenhoe player booked, but justifiably so, as after Callum Rogers was penalised Peter hurled the ball away into the beautiful horse chestnut trees in a fit of pique or sheer frustration. Happily the free-kick was over hit and no damage done.
This was a magnificent performance from the Dragons, arguably their best of the season. The whole team played well and there is no doubt that Wivenhoe should have won this game as they produced chance after chance and were only denied by a match saving performance from Newmarket’s goalkeeper. Every part of the team was excellent from the defence, which was disciplined and steady with Callum Rogers and Tim Dennis, but also provided a platform for attacking play down the flanks with Ben Lampon and Miguel Nydam, through the midfield where Ben Connell and Dan Homeward provided the linkage to the more free running Marley Spindler and the wide play of Peter Maina and Tyler Rogers. Finally, Ben Parkin played a blinder up front and could easily have had a hat-trick.
After the terribly scrappy match against Stanway on Easter Monday this match was in complete contrast and was reminiscent of some of the excellent pre-season performances when the Dragons showed their credentials as a side capable of playing attractive passing football, football as it should be played, a game of skill, a game not just played with your feet but with your brain.