Tom Makes Mark as Greens Do Double
A late goal from substitute Tom Markham gave Gorleston the three points at a windy Emerald Park.
Ricci Butler’s first game as a Greens boss had been victory in Haverhill and he made two changes to the side that had been unfortunate to go out of the FA Vase in their previous game.
Aaron Taylor was suspended following his wrongful dismissal in that game and there was no Chris Sandford. Cain Eagleton and Sam Ellis came into the team.
Butler threw in a surprise too, switching his team to three at the back: Harley Clements, Liam Brown and Conna Harris; with Luke Goreham and Sam Ellis playing wing backs.
The visitors came into the game in blistering form, unbeaten in seven league games and just one defeat in their last thirteen. They also had not conceded a goal since the first ten minutes of their game with Ipswich Wanderers, five matches earlier.
Playing into the strong wind, Gorleston could have gone ahead as early as the second minute when the tricky Kyle Ingram left his marker in his wake and played the ball inside to Keegan Middleton who sidefooted low past the keeper but there was a bit too much slice on it and the ball drifted a foot wide of the post.
The first effort on target from either team came in the 10th minute when a weak Marcus Hunt header following a free kick bounced harmlessly into George Macrae’s arms.
Four minutes later Gorleston went ahead.
Eagleton’s knock down found Middleton who slid the ball towards Joel Watts, who was lurking on the last defender.
A sublime first touch and turn by Watts left the defender for dead and sent him through on the keeper. Watts kept his cool and slotted calmly past the keeper into the net for his 7th goal of the season and the first past the Rovers keeper for 450+ minutes.
The lead only lasted nine minutes.
Gorleston couldn’t clear a cross properly against the wind. The ball was played back to the edge of the area. A long range effort was half blocked by a defender, the ball cannoning down into the ground off his arm, but it fell nicely into the path of Blake Kicks who made no mistake kicking it into the net past MacRae.
Five minutes later a mix up sent Haverhill through on goal again but MacRae was quickly at the edge of his box to make a block tackle and clear.
Four minutes before the break a Middleton cross picked out Ellis at the back post. He struck the ball goalwards but was denied by a flying Alex Archer, who palmed the ball away.
The half ended with a few feisty challenges mostly centred on Ingram, but it was the Gorleston player who ended up in the ref’s notebook for seeking his own revenge and there were words exchanged as the teams left the pitch under close scrutiny from the referee.
The second half developed into a scrappy affair with the wind having the beating of both teams.
MacRae kept his side on level terms ten minutes into the half when Haverhill broke from a Gorleston corner, the Greens keeper fingertipping over Ryan Weaver’s effort.
The visitors seemed to have adapted better to the conditions playing into the wind with Gorleston tending to be a little too direct and their passes forward being overhit and running through too far.
Neither side were creating any clear cut chances with both teams reduced to speculative efforts.
With twelve minutes remaining Butler made the first of his substitutions bringing Tom Markham on for Ellis and switching to a 4 4 2.
Two minutes later a scramble in front of the Haverhill goal looked like it would put the Greens back in front but Rovers players threw their bodies in the way with Ingram, Watts, Lambert and Clements all denied by blocks.
The winning goal came four minutes from time.
Markham picked the ball up on the edge of the box facing away from goal. A nice turn in a tight space opened up a shooting opportunity which he took, the ball deflecting up off a defender and looping over the stranded keeper into the net.
There was still time for Haverhill to respond and another superb tip over from MacRae three minutes into stoppage time ensured his side took home all three points.
Match sponsor was Ray Hodgson and he gave the man of the match to Kyle Ingram.
Gorleston: George Macrae, Sam Ellis (Tom Markham 78), Luke Goreham (c), Conna Harris, Harley Clements, Liam Brown, Kyle Ingram, Cain Eagleton, Peter Lambert, Joel Watts (Mitch McKay 83), Keegan Middleton
Bookings: Ingram 44; Clements 67
Goals: Watts 14; Markham 86
Haverhill Rovers: Alex Archer, Perry Moody, Tyler Kemp, Simon Newnes (Oliver Stevenson 88), Marcus Hunt, Martyn Farrant (c), Luke Haines (Rory Jebb 88), Riki Baker, Ryan Weaver, Blake Kicks, Will Gardner
Goal: Kicks 23
Ref: Dan Cook
|1||Other efforts on target||3
|3||Other efforts off target||4
|0||Other efforts against woodwork||0
|14||Free kicks for||11