ROVERS CLOSE THE GAP AFTER NARROW WIN

A cold blustery morning greeted players and spectators alike this weekend but although there has been plenty of rain for the past few days, you have to wonder if some decisions to call off for waterlogged pitches yesterday, were made in haste.

In the Premier Division, a Duane Eastall goal straight from a corner was enough to move Riverside Rovers to within a point of leaders Schoolhouse as they beat Sprowston Wanderers 1-0. Aaron Sanders struck four times as third placed Acle Rangers were 5-2 winners over Horsford Utd in what was a dress rehearsal for their County Cup semi final as the two teams meet on March 4th. Matt Cullumbine added the fifth.

I saw the only game played in Division 1 and it turned out to be a bit of a thriller. Hewett OB’s entertained Phoenix and with both sides in the top three, this was always going to be a close encounter. Hewett started the game well and to the lead when Jordan Crane tapped home from close range and fifteen minutes later Callum Speck scored an excellent goal to increase the home sides lead. This seemed to shake Phoenix into action and they soon reduced the arrears when a long ball into the box was controlled well and fired home by Shaun Dunthorne. Before the break the visitors were level when a corner was deflected into his own net by a Hewett player. The second half proved to be end to end stuff, but the home side missed a great chance to go in front when Matt Giles was tripped in the penalty area, but the resultant penalty came back off the post. Jamie Smith went close for Phoenix and brought a fine save from Connor Widdows, before Hewett thought they’d taken the lead only to be denied by an offside flag which to be fair, looked debateable. With less than ten minutes left the visitors got their noses in front. Another effort from Smith came back of the post, but Dunthorne was on hand to smash the ball high into the net for his second and what proved to be the winning goal. A good game to watch and a great comeback to win by Phoenix but the home side will feel a touch hard done by.

The top two in Division 2 both recorded comfortable victories. Leaders Woolpack saw Chris Holmes hit a hat trick in their 6-2 win over Sprowston Ath Wildcats and Drayton Dazzlers, ran out 8-2 winners over Briston, whilst third placed Mischief stayed in touch as they scored four without reply at home to Mad Moose. Marlborough also collected three points this weekend as they won 3-0 at Vale Longo.

There are new leaders in Division 3. The mornings top two faced each other and it was the visitors who came out on top as DCS Rapid were 3-2 winners at Brooke Res. DCS now lead the table by a point, but I’d expect a few twists and turns before the season ends, as Norman Wanderers A have three games in hand on the top two and trail the leaders by six points after a Reece May double in their 2-0 win over Acle Rangers Res. Silver Fox ran out 5-1 winners as Haydn Cunningham 2, Jason Lambert, Ryan Tebble and Craig Boyles all scored at MC Rovers, whilst Hempnall won their South Norfolk Derby 4-0 (Jamie Ellis, Lewis Frost, Ashley Gray, George Macrae)  against Harleston Town.

In Division 4, leaders AFC Norwich were held to a 3-3 draw against Nelson Athletic, but they now know that a win in their final game will secure the title. FC Viking remain in second place after a big win, that included five Joshua Edge goals at Eaton Park Corinthians, whilst Hethersett Ath Res are third following their 5-1 victory at Rose Athletic. Cellar House took the points against Rackheath Rangers, winning 2-1 whilst it was all square at Woodton Utd as they came from three goals down to share six goals and the points with Sporting Iceni.

No games survived in Division 5 and in the only Under 19 game played, strikes by Rhys Manley and Max Spelman helped Hellesdon to a 2-1 win over Heigham Park Rangers