Saturday Football: Late goal glory for Littleport
JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL Littleport Town Reserves again belied their desperate position at the bottom of Division 1B with a performance just good enough to see them through to the final of the Junior Challenge Cup at the expense of Waterbeach Reserves. The
JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL
Littleport Town Reserves again belied their desperate position at the bottom of Division 1B with a performance just good enough to see them through to the final of the Junior Challenge Cup at the expense of Waterbeach Reserves.
The tie was goalless throughout normal time and extra-time, and in the penalty shoot-out that followed it was still level after eight successful conversions, with Clive Lee, Ross Wilding, James South and Ben Layn on target for the hosts.
Waterbeach's next spot-kick was blazed over the bar, but the referee ordered it to be re-taken because 'Port goalkeeper Andy Smart was adjudged to have moved a fraction too early.
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The second attempt was then saved by Smart however, and Neil Cullum took responsibility for the next penalty which he struck past the goalkeeper to make it 5-4.
South played well for Littleport, but it was probably Layn - still on his way back from a long-term injury - whose presence was decisive on the day.
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JOHN ABLETT CUP
Witchford '96 and Fordham Reserves had two goals to spare as they both made it through to the last four of the competition at the expense of Great Chishill and Hardwick Reserves respectively.
Witchford fielded something of a makeshift side and had Duncan Turner in goal, but they took the lead after 20 minutes when Michael Ward laid the ball back for Ally McDonald to fire home from 15 yards.
The visitors missed a sitter soon afterwards, and then found themselves two goals behind as Aaron Spencer latched on to Michael Strawson's defence-splitting pass before lobbing the advancing goalkeeper.
Turner made a great save at the start of the second period, but moments later fumbled the ball to allow Chishill a soft goal which made it 2-1.
Witchford were not to be denied however, and with 15 minutes left Spencer broke down the left and cut inside before slotting home a decisive third goal.
Witchford will travel to Withersfield in the semi-final, and Fordham Reserves go to Whittlesford United Reserves after a splendid performance against the 3A leaders Hardwick Reserves.
Fordham looked lively throughout, and John Sands struck a goal in each half to see them through 2-0 on the day.
Fordham took another step towards Premier Division survival with a 3-2 victory at Great Paxton, thanks to a late own goal scored by the home side.
New signing Mark Blair was impressive on his debut, and after Ben Howe had given Fordham the lead it was Blair who doubled the advantage with a brilliant goal following Daren Pryke's cross-field pass.
The visitors were well in control at this stage, but Mark Hacking was harshly adjudged to have handled on the edge of the box and Paxton scored from the resulting penalty to lift their spirits.
They then grabbed an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, and both teams had chances to win it after the break although it was the hosts who enjoyed most of the possession.
Then with three minutes remaining Dan Langley fired a shot into the danger area and a Paxton defender deflected the ball into his own goal for what proved to be the winner.
Littleport Town were controversially beaten after conceding a last minute penalty in their match at Over Sports.
Matt Nixon - who had been superb throughout - was hit on the back of his arm by the ball as he spun round to make a challenge, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
"It was a shocking decision to be honest," groaned 'Port boss Dave Cullum after his side's 2-1 defeat.
Over had started well and eventually took the lead following a 20th minute free-kick, but Richie Murfitt worked the ball on to his left foot and scored with a rasping drive to make it 1-1 soon afterwards.
'Port dominated the rest of the first half, and were unlucky not to go ahead. Nigel Smith's free-kick was tipped on to the bar by the goalkeeper, and another Smith dead ball was saved before Murfitt's follow-up was miraculously blocked - again bouncing to safety via the woodwork.
Dave Beeton's header likewise struck the bar, but 'Port - who eventually had four players cautioned - saw all their good work unravelled in that controversial finale.
SENIOR DIVISION A
Soham Town Rangers Reserves overcame a poor start to beat Brampton 4-1 at home on Saturday.
Matt Ogden and Paul Jones were on target before half-time, and Sam Cooper's deflected shot made it 3-0 before man-of-the-match Jones wrapped up the points with his second goal of the afternoon.
SENIOR DIVISION B
Soham United player-manager Andy Parker donned the goalkeeper's jersey as his side won their second away match in succession at the expense of Castle Camps.
Lee Heading opened the scoring with a first minute header which proved to be the only goal of the first half, and Chris Lam made it 2-1 after Sean Hogg had nodded down Harley Day's cross-field pass.
Neil Brosnan then volleyed home number three after the 'keeper's punch fell to him on the edge of the area, and Lam made the final score 4-1 with his second of the match.
Haddenham Rovers eased their lingering relegation fears with a hard-earned 2-2 draw at Ely Crusaders.
Ely began well and led after 15 minutes through Jonathan Brown, but they missed several good chances to increase their lead and were pegged back by a controversial equaliser.
Goalkeeper Gavin Wiseman was left stranded when Lee Moll appeared to be pushed in the back by Kenny Holmes, but no foul was given and Haddenham's leading scorer fired home to make it 1-1.
Simon Farrow restored Ely's lead from the penalty spot after a second half trip on Ben Fuller, but Haddenham started to play with more confidence and tied the scores again with 10 minutes remaining.
Gary Goodjohn was the player on target with a sensational free-kick.
Ely City Reserves meanwhile extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points with a comprehensive 6-0 victory at Swavesey Institute.
Chris Lupson's 25-yard volley broke the ice, and Dave Cornwell struck either side of the interval to make it 3-0.
Martin Gray added a fourth goal and then fired home number five from the penalty spot after the Swavesey goalkeeper had been dismissed for a foul on Jamie Gayfer, and Steve Pollard wrapped things up with another goal towards the end.
Isleham United gave themselves too much to do as they went down 4-2 in their match at St Ives Town Reserves.
They trailed 3-0 before central defender Ryan Collen pulled one back, and Nathan Beckett grabbed the final goal of the match after the hosts had struck again.
Stretham Hotspurs lost 2-0 in their home clash with promotion-chasing Needingworth United Reserves.
A late goal from Justin Challis was sufficient to earn The Vine all three points at home to Brampton Reserves.
Johnny Cutter missed several good chances but did provide the hosts with a 1-0 interval lead, and Challis eventually made it 2-1 after Brampton had equalised from the penalty spot.
Jamie Brannan was in outstanding form as Soham United Reserves came from 5-2 down to share the spoils with visiting Hemingfords United A, and Little Downham Swifts won by the odd goal in seven as they entertained Dullingham.
Sutton United Reserves produced a great team performance to share the spoils with leaders Wisbech St Mary Reserves.
Matthew Keys equalised with a fine diagonal run and shot after Wisbech had taken the lead, and Sutton's goalkeeper Phil Harrison was well protected by his defence for the rest of the match.
In fact it was United who could have taken all three points, but Richard Martin's dipping 20-yard drive struck the bar.
Mepal Sports twice came from behind to claim a 5-3 win in their home clash with Exning Athletic.
Chris Silvain with a header and Matt Johannsson retrieved the early deficits, and Johannsson struck again to make the interval score 3-2.
Darren Murfitt extended the advantage before Exning scored again from the penalty spot, and in the closing stages Guy Habbin finally made the points safe.
His initial header was saved by the goalkeeper, but he latched on to the rebound and rattled the ball home.
Pymoor FC also scored five times through Greg Saberton (2), Liam Broker, David Harvey and substitute Jason Cridford as they beat Swavesey Institute Reserves without conceding a goal, but their were defeats for Haddenham Rovers Reserves, Wicken Amateurs and Burwell Swifts.
Haddenham lost 5-0 at Barton Mills Reserves and Wicken lost 6-0 at home to Willingham Reserves, but Burwell were unlucky to lose by the odd goal in five at St Ives Town A.
They trailed 3-0 at one stage, but rallied with goals from Lee Hardy and Ollie Williams, whose 30-yard shot found the right hand corner of the net.
Isleham United Reserves scored the only goal of the game to win a dour clash with Outwell Swifts Reserves.
They looked the likeliest team to break the deadlock as the match wore on, and the goal eventually came when Thomas Sheldrick's free-kick from wide on the left crept under the bar to make it 1-0.
The Vine Reserves lost 3-0 at Cottenham United B, and Little Downham Swifts Reserves were edged out 2-1 at Coldham United, as were Littleport Town A in their match at Walsoken United.
The led 2-1 through Neil Green and James Kent and then had a Colin Bell effort controversially disallowed before the tide turned against them.