DIVISION ONE NORTH
Soham Town Rangers 4
Maldon & Tiptree 3
Those of a nervous disposition will have been watching through the cracks in their fingers as Soham snatched safety from the jaws of relegation on Saturday.
Pre-match, Soham knew that victory would extend their stay at Step Four into a 10th year and while that is eventually how it played out, it does not do the full story justice.
At half-time, the hosts were comfortably safe as they were level at one goal apiece with Maldon, while third-from-bottom Heybridge Swifts found themselves two goals down to Phoenix Sports.
But by the 75th minute there had been a dramatic turnaround, so much so that Soham were heading back to Thurlow Nunn League. Maldon were 3-2 in front, with Heybridge now also winning by the same scoreline.
Yet, having taken 14 points from a possible 18 heading into this encounter, Robbie Mason’s team evoked some more of that spirit in the last five minutes, with Sam Mulready and player-assistant boss Lloyd Groves both on target for the second time in the match to preserve the team’s status, sending Ware — and not Heybridge — down in the process.
Speaking after his team’s on-pitch celebrations, Mason said: “I tried to not listen (to other scores) and I did not want the players to listen because whatever the result at Heybridge was, it could have impacted on our performance. But the word got around they were 2-0 down. Did that affect our performance early in the second half? Maybe.
“Even so, we have got a real strong unit here. There has been no negativity and everyone has stuck together. It is a great feeling. We had the hardest run-in so we have earned survival. All the others involved have had easier fixtures.”
The first half gave little indication of what was to unfold after the restart, with neither side offering much in the way of an attacking threat.
As it was, Soham frontman Mulready broke the deadlock with a 21st-minute volley, before Joshua Pollard headed Maldon level soon after.
Former Soham attacker Kieran Bailey neatly slotted Maldon in front after 56 minutes, but within 120 seconds the home team were level courtesy of a downward Groves header.
Back came Maldon, who regained the lead through Sam Newson’s 68th-minute diving header, but just when they appeared down and out, Mulready and Groves came to the rescue with a half-volley and header respectively.
Soham: Conroy, Russell, Gardner, Cambridge, Tennent, Groves, Endacott (Maina 67), Horne (Hobbs 11) (Mochalski 47), Mason, Mulready, Brown
Journal Men of the Match: Lloyd Groves and Sam Mulready, Attendance: 183