Reality bites for Bloaters

The realities of the Ridgeons Premier Division are beginning to bite as Great Yarmouth conceded four goals at home for the second time in a week on Tuesday against Leiston.

The past three games, though, have seen Yarmouth take on the top three teams and while this period has mostly made for some uncomfortable watching for home supporters, the second half against CRC notwithstanding, it has shown the standard at the top is a far cry from lower down.

Like the professional Premiership, there seems to be an outstanding group at the top, a large middle ground and a small number of relegation candidates at the bottom. This last group includes, somewhat surprisingly, the two teams that accompanied Yarmouth from the First Division, FC Clacton and Brantham Athletic both of whom out scored Yarmouth last season, and neither has yet registered a win. Indeed, FC Clacton were beaten 3-0 at home by Leiston in their immediately preceding game and the Suffolk outfit’s marauding strike force has now registered 26 goals from seven games.

“This season is all a learning curve for the boys and for me,” said Paul Tong, Yarmouth manager. “With the games coming thick and fast, Tuesday - Saturday - Tuesday - Saturday, there’s no respite and I’ll maybe have to look at giving one or two a rest to recharge the batteries. Like I said in the dressing room on Saturday I don’t want games to be over at half time and they’ve got to realise that whereas in Division One last year we made mistakes and got away with them, now at this level mistakes get punished. But they’re enjoying it and they’re working hard, so that’s good.

“Every game is going to be tough and the lads have to rise to the challenge. I want them to enjoy the experience in this division and express themselves, to gain confidence and just believe in themselves. Last year we only conceded 28 goals all season, 10 at home but it was no mean feat to draw with CRC and without the penalty it would have been a clean sheet.

“On Tuesday although we were in it for an hour, it was a case of men against boys really, and Leiston were deserving winners. But you just have to look at their budget to see why.”

Kirkley and Pakefield are the Premier Division visitors (7.45pm) on Tuesday. Yarmouth may have played the better football in their recent meeting at Walmer Road but it was the Royals that ended up with the points.

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Great Yarmouth Town 1, Leiston 4

In front of the newly-reopened grandstand, Yarmouth were unable to prevent Leiston going to the top of the Premier table. The 108-year old stand, the oldest football stand in the world with a Guinness Book of Records inclusion in the offing, reopened without any fuss after a six-month refurbishment by the Borough Council and spectators were able once more to watch from above events unfolding below them.

Sadly, those events were not what Yarmouth supporters wanted. However, their team showed a lot of fighting spirit to equalise Danny Smy’s opening 29th minute goal for the visitors, scored after he latched on to a misplaced header from a defender. Jake Reed’s shot was blocked but Dominic Smith struck a sweet effort back past Leiston ‘keeper Jamie Stannard in the final seconds of the first half.

Yarmouth started off the second half well but without producing a shot and Leiston rode their luck to go ahead once more after 54 minutes through Gareth Heath after some Michael Hilton indecision. The referee annoyed both sets of supporters with over-fussy whistle and notebook activity before Luke Fell sent in a great effort but Stannard took the catch.

Leiston made sure of the points with two in three minutes. Michael Brothers, who proved a constant threat on the Leiston right wing, was allowed to turn and shoot in the Yarmouth area after 72 minutes, the shot going in off the far post, and then substitute Simon Head produced a strong header from a cross in the 75th minute.

Yarmouth made a double substitution and Joe Bell, on in place of Scott Woodcock, sent in a wonder shot from the left but the ball flashed across the goalmouth unconverted. The substitute also contributed another effort from the left in added time, this time it came off the face of the bar and was cleared.

Yarmouth finished well-beaten by a slick side who proved superior in all departments on the night, but after Dereham, CRC and Leiston they will surely not meet such superior opposition again? Just possibly Kirkley and Pakefield next Tuesday!

Yarmouth – M Hilton, J King, O Savage, C Roberts, G Palmer, M Magee, S Woodcock, D Smith, G Norman, J Reed, L Fell. Subs: F Vide (for Norman 65), R Durrant (for Savage 76), R Catchpole, J Bell (for Woodcock 76), J Jessup.

Attendance – 68

Great Yarmouth Town 1, CRC 1

A sterling second-half comeback for the second week running earned the Bloaters a point in this clash with the unbeaten Premier Division leaders. CRC dominated the first 45 and home keeper Michael Hilton had to be at his smartest to keep out the hitherto free scoring youngsters. It was therefore a tragedy for the Bloaters stopper that he should concede the penalty from which CRC took the lead in the 26th minute when he brought down Liam Hughes on the edge of the Yarmouth area; as Hughes was going away from goal Hilton was only booked rather than sent off but Luke Berry easily scored from the spot, and Yarmouth were unable to muster a single shot on target in the half. The pressures of Premier Division life may be beginning to show as it was the fifth penalty conceded by Yarmouth already this season.

The interval team-talk from Paul Tong must have been inspirational as the Bloaters came out all guns blazing for the second half and leading marksman Jake Reed, who had a quiet first period, came alive. Two efforts early on showed Yarmouth still had belief, and Reed was then in action in defence before, after a great run, passing to Norman who should have done better from a promising position.

Yarmouth eventually equalised after 67 minutes when Craig Roberts headed home from a pin-point Scott Woodcock cross following a short free kick from Olly Savage. Hilton still had to be alert to a couple of good chances which saw him make excellent catches but Yarmouth looked the more likely to score again and could have won all the points but for two great saves from ex-Coventry City ‘keeper Martin Davies in the CRC goal.

“The lads first half were probably a little bit overawed by CRC,” commented Bloaters boss Paul Tong, “but although they had a lot of the ball, other than a first minute save from Michael and then the penalty I felt they didn’t really threaten our goal. Yes, they had a lot of the play and showed their full-time quality - the passing and movement was a pleasure to watch - but we regrouped and changed a couple of things at half time and the lads started the second half a completely different team and we took the game to them. In fairness although it was a thoroughly deserved draw, we could have won it though that would have been unjust.”

Yarmouth – M Hilton, J King, O Savage, C Roberts, G Palmer, R Catchpole, F Vide, D Smith, G Norman, J Reed, L Fell. Subs: M Magee (for Norman 58), S Woodcock (for Fell 8), J Bell, R Durrant, J Jessup.

Attendance – 83

Norwich United U18 2, Great Yarmouth Town U18 0

Yarmouth went down in their first outing of the season at Plantation Park. United scored after only nine minutes when a ball down the right caught the Yarmouth defence out of position. Yarmouth then missed a penalty awarded for a foul on George Barnden who then got up and struck his spot-kick low to the ‘keeper’s right only for the ball to be saved at the foot of the post.

United increased their lead before the interval from a corner but Danny Burgess could have cut the deficit only for his first-time volley to go agonisingly wide.

Jake Jessup made two good saves early in the second half to keep Yarmouth in it. A Barnden shot struck the United bar after 70 minutes but the Yarmouth youngsters did not have enough in their armoury this time to get anything out of the game.