Monday, 31 October 2016

Haverhill Borough 2 v 1 Cornard United

Saturday 29th October 2016
Eastern Counties League Division One
The New Croft 3G, Haverhill
Admission: £5.00
Programme: Sold Out
Attendance: 122
Match Rating: 3

Today was one of the Groundhopper Days excellently organised by the Eastern Counties League, allowing spectators to easily take in three games in a day, and today's event focused on clubs on the western extremity of Suffolk. And so for the midday kick-off, I headed up the M11 to take in this Division One game.

The New Croft 3G is part of a modern sporting complex run by the Haverhill Community Sports Association, and is located just to the north of Haverhill town centre. The 3G ground is situated adjacent to the main grass pitch on the complex, which they shared with Haverhill Rovers up until last month, until the 3G pitch was ready to host senior football and became Borough's home while Rovers remain on the grass pitch. It is usually difficult to fall in love with a plastic pitch within a cage, and that is most certainly true of this venue. It simply does not have the feel of being the home of a senior football club, much more of being a community or school facility. Perhaps in time it may develop more of a football club identity. Spectators enter through a small turnstile hut, which displays just about the only prominent Haverhill Borough club signage to be seen anywhere on the complex, and then there is a wooden shed to the left, with a small bar inside and refreshments window outside. Spectators then enter the cage, and all of the spectator facilities are located along one side, with a small covered terrace close to the entrance, and a modern metallic all-seater stand towards the furthest corner flag. Hard standing is only available along this length and behind the goal closest to the entrance - the remaining two sides are inaccessible. Programmes sold out long before kick-off, although to their credit, the club took names of those who wanted a copy forwarded on to them.

Haverhill Borough came into this game ninth place, with 6 wins and four draws from their 12 league games, whilst Cornard United were in 14th place in the 21 team division, with four wins and four draws from their 14 league games.

On a mainly overcast early afternoon, with the sun occasionally breaking through, this was a closely fought game for long periods, with both sides creating decent chances. Gareth Thomas headed the ball home when the ball was played into the box from a deep free kick, but the goal was ruled out for offside. Cornard's best opportunity came on 39 minutes, when Daniel Brown broke clear of the defence, and he shot low from the edge of the area but a faint fingertip touch by the keeper was enough to divert the ball onto the far post.

The game continued to be competitive after the break, and shortly after Cornard had a great chance to go into the lead, Haverhill did on 55 minutes. After some good movement and passing in the box, the ball was laid off to Jarid Robson fired the ball into the bottom right corner from a central position. They doubled their lead on 58 minutes following a low cross from the right, and Ryan Swallow took a touch before firing home in similar fashion to the first goal. The visitors got back into it on 67 minutes following a lovely sliderule pass through the defence presented Nathan Finan with the opportunity to fire the ball low underneath the keeper. The game really could have gone either way, both sides creating some very good chances, Haverhill's Martin Westcott seeing a lovely curling shot come back off the far post, and in the closing minutes, Cornard forced a couple of smart saves from the home keeper, but Haverhill held on to claim the three points.

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