A thrilling fight to the finish

PUBLISHED: 10:30 19 July 2007 | UPDATED: 12:39 04 May 2010

SATURDAY FOOTBALL REVIEW DIVISION 4B Mepal Sports Home: W9 D2 L2 F31 A9 Away: W6 D4 L3 F29 A16 Pts: 51 (1st of 14) THERE was another thrilling conclusion to the Division 4B title race, as Mepal Sports managed to pip March Ran



Mepal Sports

Home: W9 D2 L2 F31 A9

Away: W6 D4 L3 F29 A16

Pts: 51 (1st of 14)

THERE was another thrilling conclusion to the Division 4B title race, as Mepal Sports managed to pip March Rangers to the championship on goal difference.

Only three goals separated the teams at the finish.

Taking only one point from their last two games Mepal, having completed their programme, were left to sweat as March chased an improbable 10-goal margin of victory against mid-table Sutton United Reserves in their final outing.

They eventually won the game 7-0, but to Mepal's delight United put up just enough resistance to prevent their opponents from achieving their double-figure target.

So what was the secret of their success, having spent many years in the doldrums? Well, much of the credit has to go to a defence which conceded just 25 goals in 26 league games, because at the other end Mepal scored only 60 - fewer than any other team in top six.

Another crucial factor was that they took maximum points from each of the three sides that finished immediately below them, ­including, significantly, 4-0 and 2-0 victories over the runners-up.

Boasting a comparatively small squad, Mepal fielded only 19 players all season - a remarkable statistic, considering they played 31 matches in all competitions.

Ely Crusaders

Home: W10 D1 L2 F42 A19

Away: W4 D2 L7 F34 A33

Pts: 45 (3rd of 14)

ELY Crusaders blew their automatic promotion hopes with some dreadful away results.

However, on home soil they boasted the best record in the division (despite losing, inexplicably, to Exning and Swavesey Institute Reserves, and drawing with bottom club Earith United).

Having finished only six points adrift of the top two, Crusaders' players must still be shaking their heads in disbelief. How could they possibly have contrived to lose at Exning (7th), Sutton (8th), Barton Mills Reserves (9th) and draw at both West Row Gunners Reserves (10th) and Milton A (second-from-bottom)?

It was simply that Ely performed a little better against the top six sides than they did against those underneath, taking 60 per cent of the points (18 from a possible 30) as opposed to 56 per cent (27 out of a possible 48) against the lower-ranked teams.

If Crusaders can cure their apparent travel sickness, they should do well in 2007/2008.

Haddenham Rovers Res

Home: W8 D1 L4 F32 A33

Away: W6 D0 L7 F31 A55

Pts: 43 (5th of 14)

ROVERS Reserves endured a campaign that was nothing short of remarkable.

On January 20, 2007 they were marooned at the bottom of the table with only three points to show from 11 league matches (scoring 17 and conceding 71 goals in the process).

Fifteen weeks and as many games later, they were in fifth spot, only eight point adrift of the eventual champions! The daunting visit to title-chasing Mepal appears to have been the catalyst for this dramatic transformation.

At the time, Haddenham's 1-0 victory - courtesy of Philip Harle's goal - had all the appearances of a freak result, but they followed it up with convincing wins against promotion-chasing Ely Crusaders (4-2) and Wisbech St Mary A (5-2 away).

Three successive home games then produced odd-goal wins at the expense of Swavesey, March and Wisbech again and, suddenly, it became clear that Haddenham's boys were now doing the whipping.

Five more victories followed, making it 33 points out of a possible 33 for the one-time strugglers.

The run was finally ended by Burwell Swifts (who held them 3-3) and Exning Athletic subsequently beat Rovers 3-2 on the penultimate Saturday of the campaign.

So there can be no doubt about it - Rovers ended up as the best team in Division 4B!

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