Bloaters go top of league

Great Yarmouth Town FCGerry BrownIt was the year of Dolly the Sheep, the Newbury bypass protests and the Channel Tunnel fire.In sport, Manchester United became the first team in England to win the double twice, Glen Hoddle was appointed England manager and Damon Hill won the Formula One championship.

Great Yarmouth Town FC

Gerry Brown

It was the year of Dolly the Sheep, the Newbury bypass protests and the Channel Tunnel fire.

In sport, Manchester United became the first team in England to win the double twice, Glen Hoddle was appointed England manager and Damon Hill won the Formula One championship. Oh, and in November, Great Yarmouth topped the Ridgeons League Premier Division!

Yes, 1996 saw the last occasion before last weekend that the Bloaters first team topped any division. Then it was a 2-0 home win over Newmarket that put them at the summit on November 16. This time, a 1-0 home win over Whitton United did the trick, just two days short of a full 13 years later.

Bloaters' boss Paul Tong was naturally very pleased to go two points clear at the top of the Ridgeons first division, but warned that there is a long way to go before any celebrations can begin.

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“There are no prizes for being top of the league at this stage of the season and I'd rather be top of the league come May 1, but of course I'm very pleased for the lads and for everybody connected with the club.

“It shows we're going in the right direction and our aim is to make sure we finish in the top three at the end of the season. But that's a long way away, we're not halfway through the season yet.

“Saturday's game was a battle with the conditions,” he went on. “But what I am pleased about is the resilience of the players, and it's a credit to both sides how they tried to play football.

“In the first half we didn't press 'start'. We did score early on but then did not capitalise on it and it left us a mountain to climb in the second half. Credit to the lads they dug in and in fact created three good chances against the wind after half time. We should have scored and finished the game off.

“But, in typical Yarmouth fashion, we had to suffer the agonies right through injury time. But they all battled and all credit to them. The lads are playing well and on another day would have finished the chances off. It's always on a tightrope at 1-0, but anyway it's another clean sheet and another three points that we haven't to worry about.”

The Reserves' game at Whitton last Saturday was postponed due to the state of the pitch. The game has now been re-dated to March 27.

They lost the local derby game on Tuesday with Gorleston Reserves by a 3-1 score line. Tomorrow they are due to visit Aldiss Park to take on Dereham Reserves, another tough fixture in a testing month of difficult games.

The Youth team game last week at home to Harford Tornadoes was brought to a halt at half time by a floodlight failure with Yarmouth leading 2-0. Next week they have another home game, with Norwich United the visitors (7.45pm).

WROXHAM'S draw with Halstead Town in the FA Vase on Tuesday has meant that the Bloaters Norfolk Senior Cup tie scheduled for tomorrow has had to be put back until Tuesday (7.45pm) and will replace the League Cup tie that should have taken place then and which will now have to be re-dated.

If a replay is necessary it will take place the following Tuesday.

Tomorrow now sees a hastily rearranged fixture at Long Melford (3pm). The second-bottom side won their first game of the season on Saturday, 4-1 at bottom club Fakenham.

Great Yarmouth Town 1, Whitton United 0

The Bloaters went to the summit of Division One with this hard-earned victory against a competitive Whitton United.

Yarmouth now lead FC Clacton by two points from the same number of games.

The weather completely dictated the game and the

team that had the wind and

rain on their backs dominated each half.

Yarmouth scored after only six minutes when Scott Woodcock slotted home between the keeper and the post on a very tight angle after a back header from Stewart Roach.

Play was concentrated in the Whitton half but the wind continually kept running the ball out of play. However, the wind did come to the assistance of Scott Woodcock's in-swinging corners, one of which hit the inside of the far post but rebounded kindly for the Whitton defence to clear.

Whitton came more into the game as the half continued on but could not penetrate the home defence while Yarmouth failed to make the most of their chances.

With Liam Bartley on for Roach at half-time, Yarmouth still looked good against the wind but as the weather deteriorated again, play once again became concentrated in the northern half of the pitch.

However, Yarmouth did create three good chances, the best of which saw Woodcock send in a corner which was scrambled off the Whitton line before he then delivered a well-flighted centre which Bartley's flying header put just over the target.

The final minutes saw Whitton besiege the Bloaters' goal but the Town defence performed with steel and Craig Roberts, Gareth Palmer and keeper Michael Hilton held out against all the odds.

Yarmouth: M Hilton, A Sewell, O Savage, C Roberts, G Palmer, D Smith, J Reed (J Bell 88), M Magee, S Roach (L Bartley 46), G Norman, S Woodcock. Unused subs: F Vide, B Junior. Attendance: 30.