Finch on target as Stowmarket begin with a victory

PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:25 05 September 2020

The scene at Greens Meadow during the first half of this afternoon's Thurlow Nunn Premier openeing day clash. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The scene at Greens Meadow during the first half of this afternoon's Thurlow Nunn Premier openeing day clash. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Stowmarket Town 1 Gorleston 0

Stowmarket and Gorleston prepare to kick off to start the 2020-21 Thurlow Nunn Premier season, at Greens Meadow this afternoon. Picture: CARL MARSTONStowmarket and Gorleston prepare to kick off to start the 2020-21 Thurlow Nunn Premier season, at Greens Meadow this afternoon. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Christy Finch bagged the only goal of the game as Stowmarket Town began the new Thurlow Nunn Premier campaign with a hard-earned home victory over battling Gorleston, at a sun-kissed Greens Meadow this afternoon.

Runaway leaders Stowmarket had been unbeaten throughout last season’s league campaign, until it was cut short and eventually declared null-and-void by the Coronavirus outbreak.

Rick Andrews’ men had kicked off this new term with a midweek 2-1 success over Rothwell Corinthians, in the FA Cup, but they were made to right hard to ensure a winning start to their league programme.

The only goal of the game, which arrived in the 42nd minute, came from keeper James Bradbrook’s quick punt upfield. His big kick looked to be heading towards the safe hands of opposing keeper George Macrae, but Gorleston right-back Stephen Taylor chose to intercept.

An early autumnal scene as Stowmarket Town take on Gorleston at Greens Meadow this afternoon. Picture: CARL MARSTONAn early autumnal scene as Stowmarket Town take on Gorleston at Greens Meadow this afternoon. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Taylor’s rather desparate header skywards dropped into the path of the awaiting Finch, who needed no second invitation as he swept home a low shot into the far corner of the net.

And that proved sufficient for the hosts to pick up where they left off last season, a long 175 days ago.

Gorleston had occupied the bottom spot in the division last season, before it was declared null-and-void, but they had been encouraged by a midweek 5-0 win over Norfolk rivals Swaffham Town in the FA Cup and they were a shade unlucky to be trailing at the break.

They restricted Stow to only-half chances, while the prolific Connor Ingram was always a danger with his free-kicks.

In fact, Stow did not make much headway until a free-kick by Danny Cunningham, swung over deep to the far post, was prodded wide by Josh Mayhew from the tightest of angles.

Stow keeper James Bradbrook was the first to make a real save when diving low to his right to prevent Connor Ingram’s well-struck 25-yard free-kick from sneaking in, on the half-hour mark.

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Two minutes later, centre-half Jack Ainsley’s rather tame 20-yarder was Stow’s first effort on target, although Mayhew did force keeper George Macrae into a better save when his shot was blocked by the Gorleston custodian’s legs on 37 minutes.

A minute later, summer signing Charlie Clarke saw his close-range shot turned wide by Macrae, after Dominic Docherty had appeals for a penalty turned down in the build-up.

But the Suffolk hosts did break the deadlock, just three minutes before half-time via Finch’s slick finish from Taylor’s defensive error.

Stow forced the issue after the break and when keeper Macrae dropped a cross, Mayhew very nearly managed to bury the rebound, the ball flying over the bar from close-in.

On the hour mark, Mayhew again peppered the target, this time with a powerful header, from Seb Dunbar’s teasing cross, which Macrae did well to beat away to safety off his goal-line.

Midway through the second half, summer recruit Clarke cracked in a low drive which Macrae again blocked, to keep his Gorelston side in the match, while substitute Ben Licence also had a goalbound shot cleared from inside the six-yard box .

Stow continued to press, but in the Finch’s first-half goal proved enough to secure the three points.

TEAMS

Stowmarket: Bradbrook, Brown, Dunbar, Read, Shaw, Ainsley, Cunningham, Docherty, C Clarke, Mayhew, Finch (sub Licence, 70). Unused subs: A Clarke, Phair, Potter

Gorleston: Macrae, Taylor, Hunn (sub Vennell, 86), Mackie (sub Hogston, 76), Vincent, Yusuff, K Ingram, Deeks, Watts, C Ingram, McKay. Unused subs: Dunthorne, Langmead

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