Greens boost survival chances with their first victory of 2017

THAT WINNING FEELING: Lloyd Groves tries to force the ball goalwards during Soham's first victory in three months
THAT WINNING FEELING: Lloyd Groves tries to force the ball goalwards during Soham's first victory in three months

RYMAN LEAGUE

DIVISION ONE NORTH

Soham Town Rangers 2

Thurrock 1

For the first time in three months, there is every chance Robbie Mason will have got a sound night’s sleep on Saturday.

By the player-manager’s own admission, Soham Town Rangers’ failure to win a game under his stewardship — a run that stretched 16 matches — had been keeping him awake during the early hours.

Consequently, The Greens have dropped into the relegation zone. And with play-off hunting Thurrock providing the weekend’s opposition at Julius Martin Lane, few would have given Mason’s men any hope of stopping the rot.

And even the most stoic of Soham supporters will have been fearing the worst when their side trudged in a goal behind at the break.

However, the hosts looked a different animal in the second half — one that came out on top from 50/50 challenges and won second balls.

They also posed a threat to previously underworked Thurrock goalkeeper Bobby Mason, who ended up being beaten twice by Sam Mulready in the space of 60 seconds as some much-needed belief was injected into Soham’s battle for survival.

As far as the boss is concerned, his team have now set themselves the standard to follow.

“It has been three months coming and it is quite an emotional feeling,” said Mason.

“I have told the lads we won that with heart and desire. Every single one of them showed that, when in previous weeks we have had two or three passengers.

“That is the standard. We have battled and that is what it takes.

“They need to remember how this feels. Do they want it? Because we need to battle again next week and the week after that.

“We have just gone and beat a side right up there in league — it shows what we can do.”

The goal that put Soham on the back foot in the 11th minute was indicative of their recent struggles.

Nobody put pressure on David Cowley out wide on the left and when his cross was swung into the penalty area, not one home player took charge.

The ball bounced awkwardly, which seemed to deceive goalkeeper Niall Conroy, who could only watch on as it nestled in his net.

Thurrock’s number 10 Joe Christow struck the crossbar late in the half and the same player drew a smart stop from Conroy in the 53rd minute.

It would prove to be a key moment in the game because just eight minutes later, Soham were in front.

Mulready’s first came from the penalty spot after he had been fouled and in Soham’s very next attack he struck again — this time heading in at the back post.

The away side had plenty of the ball in the dying embers, but they were largely kept at bay apart from one moment when substitute Mark Onylmah skimmed the woodwork, taking with it his side’s chances of salvaging a draw.

Soham: Conroy, Mochalski (Russell 64), Gardner, Cambridge, Tennent, Groves, Kaye, Horne, Brown, Mulready (Maina 90+3), Barker

Journal Man of the Match: Joe Tennent

Attendance: 120

n Soham can move out of the bottom three with a win over Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday(3pm).

n For an interview with goalkeeper Conroy, who had previously gone six months without a win, log on to www.newmarketjournal.co.uk/sport