THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION: Long Melford 2 Newmarket Town 4
Jamie Thurlbourne was the headline act as Newmarket Town recorded a 4-2 victory from their trip to Long Melford on Friday night.
The left winger hit a hat-trick at Stoneylands, taking his tally for the campaign in all competitions to 20 as his side moved up to second place ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.
As for the hosts, who were riding the crest of a five-match unbeaten run that had moved them seven points clear of the relegation zone, they also played their part in an entertaining encounter which ultimately got away from them within the space of three second-half minutes.
There was just the one goal in the first half, courtesy of Thurlbourne in the 30th minute.
With the ball dropping from high out of the sky, other players may have opted to bring the ball under control 20 yards from goal.
However, Newmarket’s number 11 instead executed a cleanly hit volley that Darren Moyes in the Melford goal found too hot to handle.
For all of their endeavour, the home team found clear-cut chances hard to carve out during the opening 45 minutes, though they should have been level on the stroke of half-time.
Reece Clarke’s corner from the right found an unmarked Scott Sloots, but from six yards out the defender headed straight at Newmarket goalkeeper Ben Nower.
In contrast, Melford’s Michael Runicles is much more composed in front of goal — something he highlighted in the 64th minute when he darted towards the near post to draw his side level.
It was the striker’s third goal in as many outings, but The Villagers had very little time to savour it because by the 67th minute, Newmarket had established a two-goal lead.
Their second of the night came from leading goalscorer Lewis Whitehead, whose shot from just outside of the area took a wicked deflection that deceived Moyes.
And the experienced goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net again almost immediately — this time after Thurlbourne had somehow squeezed the ball in from a tight angle.
But while his deadlock-breaking effort was well struck, Thurlbourne arguably left the best of his three goals until last.
Operating from out wide on the right in the 81st minute, the attacker cut inside on to his stronger left foot and picked out the top corner in emphatic style.
Yet, the final say on proceedings went the way of Jules Mumford’s Melford when substitute Nathan Rowe was upended by Nower inside the area seven minutes from time.
Will Wingfield — making his 100th appearance in a black and white shirt — found the back of the net with the resultant spot-kick, despite Nower’s best efforts to atone for his error.
Newmarket had chances to score a fifth goal late on, the best of which was presented to a clean through Whitehead, but on this occasion Moyes stuck out a foot to thwart the pacey forward.
Long Melford: Moyes, Smith, Dewey, Sloots, Adams, Walsh, Ally, Clarke, Runicles, Skeggs (Rowe 72), Wingfield
Newmarket: Nower, Seaber-Shinn, Betson, Webster, Chivers, Watson, Napier, Swinton, Whitehead, Diaper (Seymour 50), Thurlbourne (Goddard 84)
*For match reaction, see Thursday’s (March 9) respective print editions.