DIVISION ONE NORTH
Soham Town Rangers 2
Mildenhall Town 2
The final whistle at Julius Martin Lane on Tuesday called time on what had been an entertaining derby encounter.
For the neutral it was an intriguing tie, one that contained four goals and the odd moment of controversy.
But for the opposing managers, the outcome left them feeling frustrated, with both believing their side should have taken maximum points on a rain-soaked night.
In the Mildenhall Town corner, manager Dean Greygoose’s belief came from a first half in which his team had been the dominant force.
They took the lead through a Matt Green penalty in the 13th minute, but for all of their possession after that, they struggled to work their former goalkeeper Josh Pope in the hosts’ goal.
Soham Town Rangers’ player-boss Robbie Mason, meanwhile, had seen his side respond to their half-time dressing down by scoring two quickfire goals after the restart, only to be pegged back two minutes from time.
Mason said: “We had a heated discussion at half-time. It is one of the first times I properly laid into the players because it was not good enough.
“I wanted a reaction and that is what we got. They have gone out in the second half and deserved to win the game.
“That is why there is massive frustration — we did enough to win.”
As for Greygoose, he offered up as an assessment: “We should have sewn things up in the first 30 minutes or so — it has been like that the last five weeks.
“We played some good football, switched play well and got behind them but it did not happen.
“They did things slightly differently in the second half and we have not responded well enough.
“We have got some young lads and they need to learn, which they are. They showed some good spirit to score late.”
The away side started on the front foot and had a good opportunity to break the deadlock in the fifth minute.
After controlling the ball inside the Soham box, Danny Crow cut inside on to his left foot but then saw his shot smothered by an advancing Pope.
However, just eight minutes later Mildenhall did get their noses in front.
Having been found out wide on the left by Matt Collins, Craig Calver proceeded to power past his marker Ashley Bankole, who was given a torrid time by the Mildenhall number 19 during the first half.
Soon Calver was in the area and when he tumbled under a challenge from Harry Norman, referee Josh Crofts had little hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Soham were adamant Norman had got a touch on the ball, but Green stepped up to send Pope the wrong way and pick out the bottom right hand corner.
Now one goal to the good, Mildenhall were relatively comfortable for the remainder of the half.
Greygoose’s men played some good football on occasions, but a lack of cutting edge meant they never really looked like adding to their lead.
The hosting Greens had also looked blunt in attack, but the 51st-minute introduction of substitute Gary Cohen provided some much needed impetus.
Within 60 seconds of the striker’s arrival Soham were level, with Cohen at the heart of it.
He burst away from the Mildenhall defence down the left and then produced an inch perfect cut-back for the onrushing Jon Kaye to side-foot home the equaliser.
And just two minutes later the pendulum had well and truly swung Soham’s way.
The Mildenhall defence allowed Lewis Clayton’s cross from the left to bounce and they were duly punished when Joe Carden turned the ball home at the back post.
Mason’s men had their tails up at this point and went on to have good chances to put the game out of their neighbours’ reach.
Two of those were presented to loanee strike Craig Gillies within a matter of seconds in the 74th minute, but he failed to connect cleanly with the first and followed that up by heading the second wide.
There was nothing wrong with his finish in the 86th minute as he fired past Sam Roach via the underside of the crossbar, only to be flagged offside, while moments earlier Mildenhall defender Rob Ruddy saw his attempted clearance loop up and cannon against the crossbar.
Nevertheless, it seemed Soham were still going to put back-to-back wins on the board for the first time this season, until the 88th minute when disaster struck.
Crow’s right-wing corner was only half cleared and when the ball was turned back into the danger zone, Mildenhall substitute Alex Stillinger – back at the club following a spell at Debenham LC — was quick to react and prod the ball beyond Pope from close range.
Soham: Pope, Bankole, Lee, Kaye, Chaffey, Norman, Carden, Claydon, Gillies, Hall (Cohen 51), Russell (Bennett 75)
Mildenhall: Roach, Hood, Curry, Kerins, Ruddy, Collins (Simpson 78), Crow, Green, J Brown, D Brown (Stillinger 71), Calver
Journal’s Soham Man of the Match: Jon Kaye
Journal’s Mildenhall Man of the Match: Matt Green