EAST MEN’S LEAGUE
Pelicans II 4
Newmarket’s hopes of securing the runners-up spot in Division Three North East faded in an entertaining tussle with Pelicans.
In their final home game of the season they had six first-team players, including captain Ed Griffith, unavailable, but Nescraped together a 12 man squad for this third versus fourth decider, giving a first start to second-team captain Drew Wood and a third cap for Johnny Bunker and fourth for LouisHrebeniak.
Newmarket went behind after about 10 minutes, conceding possession high up the pitch with insufficient defensive cover Martin McCourt in the Newmarket goal was given no chance.
An equaliser followed soon afterwards, Hrebeniak putting in another composed display full of maturity at left-back, worked the ball out of a tight corner to find Mike Skelton who sent James McTaggart scampering down the left flank, and his cross was calmly dispatched by Johnny Bunker at the far post for his inaugural first-team goal.
Newmarket committed a cardinal sin in allowing Pelicans to retake the lead minutes later, the right winger getting the better of Hrebeniak (for the first and last time) to cross to an unmarked centre forward to tap home.
Pelicans managed to keep ahead at the break as they soaked up the pressure and even cleared a shot off the line, while McCourt made a good save at the other end.
At half-time Newmarket’s coach made a tactical re-shuffle, bringing Jordan Newnes back to centre-back and pushing William Wilson into midfield.
The game continued in a similar pattern to that of the first half, Newmarket having better possession but Pelicans always looking dangerous.
They made it 3-1 when Newmarket reacted too slowly to a free hit and Pelicans’ star player beat three men and flicked past the despairing McCourt.
McTaggart managed to fall and sprain his ankle, so Newmarket battled on with the bare 11.
The team still pushed on, Wilson played a one-two with Holden at the top of the penalty ‘D’ and thundered the ball in to make the score 3-2.
As was to be the theme for the day, Pelicans scored again.
Newmarket continued to plough forward, Leggett squared for Wilson to hit first time and Skelton deflected the ball past the goialkeeper.
The hosts almost clinched a late equaliser when Leggett and Holden found Skelton in the ‘D’ and his cross was just ahead of diving Bunker with the goal gaping. Overall, the team performance deserved much more.
Man of the match: LouisHrebeniak looks destined to be a first-team regular for many years to come.