Game of Two Halves
By David Hardy
Gorleston failed to repel a terrific Rovers fightback and had to settle for a point in Haverhill after conceding two injury time goals.
Recent form and the league table suggested there wouldn't be much between the two sides and so it proved...in the end.
There were four changes this week. Peter Murphy replaced Adam Holbrook in goal. George Yusuff has returned to America so, with David Shade still suspended, Isaac Burrage made his first start since returning to the club. Danny Camish and Jordan Cantwell were dropped to the bench with Nelson Carinhas starting with Luke Goreham, who was making his 290th Gorleston appearance.
Haverhill had two good chances from headers in the early stages but it was Gorleston who took the lead in the sixth minute.
Peter Lambert hit a defence-splitting pass out to Carinhas on the right wing. Carinhas crossed and Connor Ingram arrived at the back post to turn the ball home.
Ingram had another chance soon after, but shot straight at keeper Mitchell Ware.
Lambert, who was dominating his markers, flicked a 19th minute header into Ingram's path but the striker blazed wide.
Gorleston were cutting through their opponents at will with the hosts creating nothing of note and it was no surprise when Gorleston doubled their lead in the 28th minute.
Ingram turned provider when he weaved around several challenges and along the byline before pulling the ball back to Joel Watts in the box who stroked the ball home.
It got even better for Gorleston six minutes before the break.
Ingram was again involved. Angus Mackie pounced on a poor clearance and fed the ball in behind for Ingram to run onto. He cut inside onto his left foot just inside the box and shot. The effort was blocked but fell back to Ingram who, this time, squared it to the unmarked Lambert. Lambert coolly curled the ball around the keeper and inside the post for his 95th Gorleston goal.
As the half time whistle blew Gorleston fans walked to the refreshments enthused by what they felt was the best half of football they'd seen from Gorleston for a while. The Greens have only won two on the road this season but seemed ideally placed to make it three. Rovers were met with one or two disgruntled boos from their supporters.
Whether it was because of the half time double-substitution by Haverhill, or a tactical change by Gorleston, the second half seemed like it was being played by two different sets of players.
Rovers went to three at the back and, with nothing really to lose, pushed on. The Greens seemed content to sit back and let their opponents have the ball. Haverhill were now playing out from the back but were often let down by their final ball.
Watts cut in from the left in the 50th minute and fired in a shot but the effort was always rising.
The Rovers keeper then ventured outside his box but miscued his clearance. Goreham pounced on the ball on the halfway line and immediately shot goalwards but the effort lacked enough power and the goalie was able to recover.
The comeback began in the 64th minute.
A corner from the Haverhill left was played into the middle of the box. The Gorleston defence seemed static and both Jemel Fox and Sam Goode raced to the ball with Goode providing the final touch.
Gorleston could have sown the game up, though, in the 72nd minute.
Connor Ingram held the ball up well and slid in Watts. Watts prodded the ball past the onrushing keeper but it bounced away off the foot of the post.
Two minutes later Haverhill should have scored, getting in too easy on the left. The cross found Ben Bradley, free in the centre of goal, but somehow he screwed his shot wide.
The Greens were sitting deeper, with rushed clearances and the ball not sticking up front so the pressure was relentless.
With eight minutes left, Bradley got the better of Mackie on the left but drove his effort into the sidenetting.
Rovers were continually firing balls into the Gorleston box and, as the game entered the last minute of normal time, it seemed as if Gorleston would hold on.
Then, with seconds of normal time remaining, Bradley was upended in the Gorleston penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.
Marc Abbott gave Murphy no chance with the spot kick.
Almost straight from the restart, Gorleston gave away a cheap free kick, allowing more pressure on their box.
Rovers threw their keeper forward and, although the Greens survived the first wave, the ball was fired back in. Turner's header bounced down off the underside of the bar onto the line and it was Goode following in who bundled in the equaliser.
There was barely time to restart the match and, at the final whistle, in contrast to half time, it was Gorleston fans with their heads in their hands whilst the home side were given a standing ovation as they left the field.
Whilst Gorleston were disappointed to let a three goal lead slip, I suspect they would have been happy with a point if offered before the game began.
Gorleston: Peter Murphy, Angus Mackie, Kyle Ingram, Luke Goreham, Isaac Burrage, Aarron Taylor (c), Nelson Carinhas (Jordan Cantwell 76), Dan Pinheiro, Peter Lambert, Connor Ingram, Joel Watts (Danny Camish 80)
Bookings: K Ingram 44; Carinhas 56; Cantwell 90+2
Goals: C Ingram 6; Watts 28; Lambert 39
Haverhill Rovers: Mitchell Ware, Alfie Carroll, Jemel Fox, Jake Noble (Harry Halls 80), Sam Holmes (c), Sam Goode, Marc Abbott, Ryan Yallop (Ben Bradley 46), Mark Lovell, Graeme Turner, Luke Haines (Ben Tait 46)
Booking: Turner 26
Goals: Good 64, 90+3; Abbott 90+1(p)
Ref: Joshua Crofts
|2||Other efforts on target||2|
|3||Other efforts off target||8|
|1||Other efforts against woodwork||0|
|10||Free kicks for||13|