Greens step up bid for promotion
PROMOTION favourites Gorleston tomorrow entertain second-placed Cambridge University Press at Emerald Park, kick-off 3pm.
CUP were top of the table until the Greens’ midweek Ridgeons First Division victory at Stowmarket took them clear by two points, and Gorleston still have three games in hand, writes David Hardy.
Stowmarket 0, Gorleston 4
GORLESTON went into Tuesday night’s match at Stowmarket knowing that if they avoided defeat they would move to the top of the league.
A Chris Sandford brace and another strike from Ally McKenna gave Gorleston a 3-0 half-time lead.
Sandford completed his hat-trick in the second half to bring his personal tally to eight goals in the last 10 games.
Gorleston have now won their last 12 games in all competitions which is their best run since 2001. However, they still have some way to go to equal their record run of consecutive victories, which stands at 22 achieved in 1972-73.
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Gorleston Reserves continued in their good scoring form on Tuesday night with a 4-1 victory over Dereham Reserves. They travel to play Diss Reserves this week.
Gorleston U18 play their final home league game of the season on Wednesday, March 23, when Norwich United are the visitors.
Gorleston 2, Halstead Town 1
Manager Richard Daniels made just one change to the side that had beaten Godmanchester the week before, giving Ally McKenna a starting place, with Bradley Hough dropping to the bench.
Gorleston made a slow start but had the majority of the early possession.
Halstead’s Matt Walker was the first goalkeeper called into serious action in the 10th minute.
Richard Woodrow’s pass sent Chris Sandford into the box. Sandford pulled the ball back towards McKenna but the keeper managed to palm it away just in time.
Sixteen minutes later it was Elliot Pride’s turn to keep the scores level when he had to dive full length to his left to turn a Jack Smith shot around a post.
It was McKenna who opened the scoring in the 33rd minute. Gary Williams and Reece Hunn took a short corner on the right and the ball was worked across to Steve Taylor on the left flank.
Taylor picked out McKenna, who had pulled off the back of his marker, with an excellent cross and McKenna planted his header firmly back across the goalkeeper into the net.
McKenna has now scored five goals in six games since joining the Greens.
Two minutes later it could have been two as McKenna squared a ball in to Woodrow, but Woodrow could not quite get it under control and the ball ricocheted between him and the goalkeeper and out for a corner.
Half-time came with Gorleston in the lead without playing as well as they can, and they continued at a pedestrian pace into the second half.
It didn’t take long before they were punished for their sluggishness when the ball found James Raby in midfield. Raby hit a hopeful shot from almost 30 yards which looped over Pride and into the goal for a 53rd-minute equaliser.
Manager Daniels already had substitute Hough ready to come on and, despite the goal, still made the change with Williams making way and Gorleston changing to two up top.
Shortly after Hough had created a chance for himself on the edge of the box but his chip was just over the bar.
Gorleston were waking from their slumber and Hough was almost in again from a Sandford pass but keeper Walker was out fast to fall on the ball.
The Greens retook the lead in the 74th minute.
Woodrow slotted the ball through to Taylor on the edge of the box and he helped it on to Hough. Hough just managed to beat the keeper to the ball six yards out and toed it past him.
The ball rolled goalwards and struck a post but Sandford was first to react to fire the ball back into the net for his ninth of the season.
Four minutes later it could have been three with Hough again the creator, setting Sandford up for a shot which he miscued. The ball fell nicely for Taylor, however Walker saved well with his legs.
Skipper Eddie Thompson delighted the fans with a fine turn in his own half then McKenna had a chance deflected wide before he was replaced by Danny Mitchell, who had a good shot himself near the end which went over.
Team: E Pride, DJ Kareche, R Hunn, G Williams (B Hough 53), A Thurtle, E Thompson, C Sandford, A Huggins-Bowers (D Cockrill 89), A McKenna (D Mitchell 82), S Taylor, R Woodrow.