Non-league football round-up

PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:51 04 March 2010

THE HOPES and fears for several non-league clubs were realised on Saturday as play-off, promotion and relegation issues were decided.



BLUE SQUARE SOUTH

Braintree Town 1 Eastbourne Borough 0

IN AN afternoon of high drama Braintree narrowly squeezed into the play-offs in the final round of league fixtures.

THE HOPES and fears for several non-league clubs were realised on Saturday as play-off, promotion and relegation issues were decided.

BLUE SQUARE SOUTH

Braintree Town 1 Eastbourne Borough 0

IN AN afternoon of high drama Braintree narrowly squeezed into the play-offs in the final round of league fixtures.

Going into the game the Iron knew they needed to beat league runners-up Eastbourne, while they also required mid-table Thurrock to beat Eastleigh.

With captain Brad Quinton in fine form, bossing the midfield, and Chris Sullivan back to his best wide on the right, Braintree dominated the opening period. However their season-long problem of not being able to convert their chances into goals was there for all to see as Hawes, Shinn and Burns all missed reasonable chances in the first half.

As news came in at half time that Thurrock were leading Eastleigh it became imperative that the Iron found the net and just two minutes into the second half Adrian Deane obliged with a deflected 25-yard strike from a Chris Sullivan pass.

After that Braintree grew in confidence and could have added to the score. However they did survive a long-range shot from Eastbourne late on that came back off the crossbar.

RYMAN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

Ashford Town 4 Chelmsford City 0

JEFF King's team signed-off the 2007/08 championship winning campaign with a defeat as Byron Harrison's second-half double ensured a miserable day for the Clarets on their travels.

Former UEFA Cup defender Joel Kitamirike made his debut in defence on the final day but Chelmsford started the match a shade of their usual selves as Ashford had the most of the possession.

The hosts, building on their outside play-off chances, took a 35th-minute lead when a foul enabled Ricky Wellard to shoot home his penalty despite the best attempts of goalkeeper Danny Gay.

Five minutes later they built on this advantage to go further ahead through Gavin Smith as his drilled low effort found the bottom corner of the net.

Chelmsford didn't show any added purpose after the interval and they fell into a more worrying deficit on the hour mark when a back pass was intercepted and Harrison found himself through on goal before lifting the ball over the advancing Gay.

Not content with just that, Harrison stormed through just seven minutes later and drilled across the face of Gay's goal, his shot having too much pace for the City custodian to prevent it flying in.

RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH

Waltham Abbey 2 Maldon Town 0

MALDON Town's promising season came to a disappointing end with defeat at Waltham Abbey and confirmation of a ninth place finish.

Manager Russell Tanner again had to make forced changes due to injuries and unavailable players and, with several players playing out of position, Maldon were not able to produce the football that only a couple of weeks ago had put them in a promotion position.

Waltham Abbey pinned Maldon back until they scored a well deserved goal after 15 minutes when Mark Sonntac was put though after a defensive error to place the ball well beyond Darren Gould.

Maldon came back and forced the Abbey keeper into two great finger tip saves, however just three minutes into the second half the hosts increased their lead when a shot by Steve Collins went across the goalmouth and in off the far post.

The rest of the game saw neither team creating many chances to score, the only excitement being when Maldon's Adam Holmes saw an effort ruled offside in the closing minutes.

Ilford 5 Witham Town 2

WITHAM'S season came to an end with a lackadaisical performance against relegated Ilford.

The hosts victory meant they ended the season without a loss in eight, however it was still not enough to keep them in the division.

Showing lack of interest or energy, Witham fell behind after just five minutes when Paul Olima forced the ball over the line following a corner.

Witham soon equalised with a low shot from Mitchell Lowes, however just before half-time Carl Bruce restored Ilford's lead.

After the break three goals by the enthusiastic home side put the result beyond doubt with Petric Elbi, Tom Laxton and Earl Sterling the scorers.

A comprehensively beaten Witham side did net a consolation goal at the end, substitute Rob King scoring a brilliant overhead kick.

AFC Sudbury 0 Potters Bar Town 1

AFC Sudbury held on to their runners-up spot, despite losing their third successive match.

The second place finish brings home advantage for Sudbury in tomorrow's play-off semi-final against Canvey Island.

In another disappointing performance against a Potters Bar side languishing in the bottom half of the table a goal after 67 minutes left the Sudbury side anxiously awaiting the result of third placed Redbridge before having the runners up spot confirmed.

They hosts almost fell behind in the opening minutes when Koko's long ball over Girling allowed Adejokun to lob the ball onto the bar.

David Head and Rowe both went close early in the second half for Sudbury, before Makofa outpaced Wardley to lob the ball over Munson, the ball coming back off the bar for Adejokun to head into the empty net.

Aveley 4 Bury Town 1

BURY Town's play-off hopes were ended on the final game of the season with defeat at Aveley.

The Suffolk side went into their last match knowing they required a win and other results to go their way. However, without their suspended skipper Bullard, it simply wasn't to be their afternoon.

The hosts took the lead as early as the second minute when Doyle was allowed to rise unchallenged and head his side in front.

Undaunted, Bury took the game to their opponents and deservedly equalised after 15 minutes when, following an exquisite bout of passing between Smith, Foster and Barrett, Smith went clear to squeeze the ball inside the post.

Bury failed to clear their lines on the half hour though and Bradbury, loitering at the far post, nonchalantly nodded Aveley back in front.

Seven minutes later and Bury has a mountain to climb when indecision let in Barnes to extend the home lead.

After Bury were twice denied, the hosts once again punished a poor clearance when Wheeler scored a fourth goal after 67 minutes.

RIDGEONS LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

Needham Market 3 Histon Res 0

A LATE James Evans double killed off Histon's bid to spoil Needham's championship quest. Needham looked leggy and the number of games they have played recently were taking their toll in the goalless first half.

Mark Heath-Preston's left-foot strike opened the scoring after 51 minutes. Histon responded, but Liam Jones made a blinding double save before Heath-Preston tried to chip the keeper and struck the post. Evans dropped his shoulder to rifle his shot high into opposite corner after 87 minutes. Two minutes later Evans glanced home a header to take this fantastic season into the final week. Needham tomorrow travel to Dereham, where they require at least a point to set up a last-day shoot-out at Soham.

Lowestoft 4 Walsham-le-Willows 0

LOWESTOFT'S final home match of the season saw the Crown Meadow faithful treated to a fine first-half display of attacking football.

Andy Reynolds was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up in one of four changes from Tuesday's victory against Wisbech, the recovering goalkeeper completing 34 minutes.

Lowestoft started very brightly and the irrepressible Jamie Godbold, who had already rattled the bar from 20 yards, fired his team when his bullet strike found the top right-hand corner.

Town doubled their advantage when Godbold's trademark mazy run saw him beat two defenders and place a magnificent left-footed strike beyond the helpless Bugg.

Godbold's chance to claim the match ball came only a minute later when Ally McKenna was scythed down inside the penalty area by Trevor Newman, but the resulting spot kick cannoned back off the post and Bradley Hough was unable to tuck the rebound away.

It was game, set and match for Lowestoft on 32 minutes when a fantastic free-flowing passing move culminated in Richard Woodrow's delivery finding the deft footwork of Darren Cockrill who coolly slotted home for his eighth of the season.

Walsham were being relentlessly ripped apart, and three became four soon after when Hunn's switch from left to right found Hough cutting in from the right, and his low drive was emphatically put into his own net by defender Nathan Clarke to compound the visitors' miserable half. With the game already won, Town relaxed considerably for the second half and the match deteriorated as a spectacle.

Woodbridge Town 2 Wroxham 1

A SPLENDID dipping volley by Mark Roper 13 minutes from time not only gave Woodbridge Town's their first win in nine league games but also secured their Premier Division status for next season.

Woodbridge had taken the lead after 15 minutes when Andrew Jackson fumbled Jack Severy's low left-wing cross and Luke Read poked home from close range.

Wroxham were level within a minute when Ben Thomspon saw his initial shot strike a post and Marcus Garnham block the rebound before Danny White scored.

Jon Bickers saw a shot on the turn saved by Jackson before the break and should have done better when through early in the second half but he failed to lift his shot over the advancing keeper.

Woodbridge looked the more likely side to win it after the interval and when Aaron Churchyard lofted the ball forward, centre back Roper took it on his chest before unleashing a 25-yard shot into the roof of the net.

Harwich & Parkeston 1 Wisbech 2

HARWICH were narrowly defeated by in-form Wisbech in this entertaining match.

The hosts started brightly, despite this being their fourth game in eight days, and wasted no time in taking the lead when, in the seventh minute, Steve Townes capitalised after a mix-up in the Wisbech defence to fire an unstoppable shot from 12 yards past Horton.

Wisbech were slow to get themselves into the game but finally drew level in the 26th minute with their first opportunity as McManus cleverly beat the Harwich offside to slot the ball under Wootten.

Both teams failed to take advantage of some golden chances before half-time, first Wisbech's Billy Smith snatched his shot straight in to the arms of Wootten, before Calver watched his trade mark penalty well-saved by Horton after Page had been felled in the area.

Harwich continued to probe away at the visitors' goal in the second-half, Defeo's curling strike, slapping the inside of the upright, but it was Wisbech that punished their hosts in a half where possession was given away cheaply.

The winning goal came when McManus' angled free kick beat Wootten at the near post.

Mildenhall Town 1 Leiston 0

JAMES Tatham's first-half goal was enough to secure the points for the home side in what was a one-sided match.

Mildenhall spurned numerous chances, with shots going wide, crashing against the bar and being cleared off the line and in the end they relied on the 15th-minute strike. Keeper Stannard was in good form for Leiston and did his part in keeping the score line down, while home keeper Pope had a quiet afternoon. The visitors stroked the ball around nicely, but rarely threatened as the home side's defence was dominant.

The goal itself was simple, Leiston failed to clear their lines and when the ball reached Tatham he squeezed the ball home between Stannard and the post.

Haverhill Rovers 2 Dereham 3

TWO controversial late decisions took the chance of all three points away from Haverhill as Dereham kept up their hopes of a top five finish in the league.

Haverhill opened the scoring through Jamie Thurlbourne after five minutes when his shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off a defender and went into the far bottom right corner.

Dereham equalised in the 17th minute when Robert Harris shielded the ball on the edge of the area before putting a short ball into the path of Sam Willis who side-footed home.

The hosts regained their slender lead three minutes into first half injury time, Thurlbourne receiving the ball 40 yards out on the left and taking his marker to the bye line before beating him, another close-range effort into the far bottom right corner.Dereham netted their second equaliser in the 77th minute from a counter-attack, Nicholas Howell seeming to be in an offside position but, with no assistant's flag, he carried on before squaring the ball for Scott Gray to score past Smith.

A controversial penalty in the 87th minute then led to Dereham's victory, home defender Gareth Thomas being adjudged to have pulled a Dereham player back in the penalty area and Harris scoring from the spot-kick.

Felixstowe & Walton 3 CRC 2

FELIXSTOWE & Walton saw out a nervy end to this game to record their fifth consecutive victory and in their final home game of the season.

A stuttering opening half, which at one stage saw the home side reduced to nine men with Howlett and Edwards receiving treatment for head wounds - Howlett later replaced by Ebanks as he was taken to hospital - ended with the home side leading 1-0 when Frost rifled home a loose ball from 18 yards after a weak punch by Beagle in the 22nd minute.

When Scopes' downward header from Edwards' corner increased the lead midway through the second half the game looked over as a contest, however, the introduction of Yambasu for CRC and Claydon for the home side brought a rousing finish to the match.

Yambasu weaved his way into the area to fire under the diving Crump to end his run of 448 minutes without conceding a goal only for Claydon to immediately restore the advantage with a glancing near post header.

CRC were still not finished as Hunters' swerving shot deceived Crump from the edge of the area to ensure a nervy finish.

Ipswich Wanderers 0 Kirkley & Pakefield 6

IPSWICH Wanderers' relegation was confirmed in embarrassing fashion as they gifted Kirkley & Pakefield an easy three points.

Wanderers started well enough, but gave away the first goal after 18 minutes when, with the defence failing to clear from a corner, Stone slotted his shot between a forest of legs from 20 yards.

The second came after 37 minutes when Manning scored a straightforward goal as Hammond was left isolated and, despite narrowing the angle, was easily beaten.

An absence of any form of marking left Stone completely on his own to fire home Kirkley's third two minutes later, while luck completely deserted Wanderers a few minutes from the half time whistle when Stone's mis-hit shot inside the area came off Hunter's chest and bounced into the goal.

Wanderers' miserable afternoon got worse after 70 minutes when Symonds was sent off for receiving two yellow cards, both for rather clumsy challenges.

Hunter's free-kick bounced off Hammond's chest for Stone to head home from close range to notch up his hat-trick, before Hunter ran free to round off the scoring.

RIDGEONS LEAGUE DIVISION ONE

Ely City 1 Hadleigh United 2

HADLEIGH kept their promotion hopes on track by gaining their first win after four draws and a defeat in their last five matches.

Hadleigh took the lead after ten minutes when Dennett centred from the left and Payne set up Myhill to shoot into the bottom corner. Ely equalised after 32 minutes when a deep ball in from a free kick saw Oakes gave away an own goal as he tried to clear the danger.

Hadleigh scored what proved the winning goal after 61 minutes with Payne converting a penalty after Chris Smith was fouled in the area.

Whitton United 3 Downham 0

WHITTON gave an impassioned display of teamwork to put themselves within sight of promotion.

With the hosts enjoying the majority of the possession and Downham losing two players to niggling injuries the writing was on the wall when Chris Williams jumped onto a loose ball to fire Whitton into the lead in the first half.

Williams doubled the advantage with a speculative strike from outside the area after a Duane Wright shot was deflected into his path.

Simon Hyde headed the final goal from a Simon Betts free-kick just before the end of regulation time.

A weary Downham had little to offer shot wise but did manage to heap some heavy late pressure. However they were unable to capitalise on a number of corners.

This result means that five teams can still mathematically gain the third promotion spot.

March Town 4 Debenham LC 1

DEBENHAM'S promotion challenge was ended by an in-form March Town United side.

Luke Pepper gave the Hares an early lead, which Sam Bate doubled with a curling effort from outside the area.

Stuart Jopling's headed goal gave Debenham hope in the second period but the introduction of Ashley Brand took the game away from the Hornets.

Brand latched onto Pepper's pass to score the third and then crossed for fellow substitute Andy Waite to condemn the visitors to defeat.

Great Yarmouth 2 Halstead Town 2

SKIPPER Steve Daly's injury-time goal saved a point for Halstead who fought back well after falling two goals behind to Great Yarmouth.

Halstead were unchanged from their midweek League Cup final disappointment but nevertheless gave a good account of themselves in a game that provided little excitement in the first half.

The second period proved the complete opposite as Yarmouth keeper Elliott Pride put on a brilliant display to stop half a dozen goalbound efforts in the last 20 minutes. It was rather against the run of play when Yarmouth made the breakthrough on the hour with a brilliant solo goal by Mark Thompson.

Ten minutes later Steve Taylor made it two when he side footed home a Crawley pass when under hardly any pressure. Halstead immediately cut the arrears though when Daly was grounded and Bryan curled home an absolute peach of a free kick into the top corner.

From here on Halstead piled on the pressure and, after Bryan had seen an effort cleared off the line, Austin's free kick was deftly converted by Daly.

Thetford Town 2 Long Melford 2

A SEVERELY understrength Long Melford continued the club's recent revival with a good point.

With five players already out injured, the jinx struck again for Melford after 24 minutes when striker Danny Manser was stretchered off to hospital with suspected torn ligaments.

Despite the setback, Melford took the lead in glorious style just before the interval when Jack Taylor drove the ball home from 35 yards.

The home team started to control the game in the second period and they levelled after 61 minutes when Holt ran some 30 yards without challenge before crossing perfectly for Mann to casually side foot the ball into the Melford net.

Having weathered the Thetford storm, Melford thought they had bagged the point five minutes from the end when a neat passing movement between Skeggs and Owens played in Chisholm whose shot deflected off the advancing keeper into the net.

However, the home team levelled in controversial circumstances at the end when a floated free-kick was caught by goalkeeper Mansfield under his bar before the challenge from three Thetford players resulted with the ball in the net.

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