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Skipper returns as Riza heads for exit

FIT AGAIN: Jack Watson will return for Newmarket
FIT AGAIN: Jack Watson will return for Newmarket

Omer Riza’s enforced departure has come as a blow, but Newmarket Town have also received a big boost this week with their captain Jack Watson ready to return to action.

Former Arsenal, West Ham United and Cambridge United frontman Riza linked up with the Jockeys last month, but after five appearances and one goal, a knee injury has forced the 38-year-old to end his stint with the club.

Manager Kevin Grainger said: “It is obviously disappointing to lose Omer, but we totally understand his decision and we thank him for what he has done.

“He has been a gentlemen and someone that has provided great football knowledge.

“We would love to have kept him, but he cannot risk it.”

But as Riza heads for the exit door at the Bloorie.com Stadium, Grainger is ready to welcome back his skipper.

An injury and a holiday has sidelined Watson for a number of weeks, but he is due to be back in contention for the visit of Walsham-le-Willows on Saturday (3pm).

“It is a big plus for us to have Jack back involved,” added Grainger, who also hopes to have midfielder Nick Wilderspin available for selection after injury.

“Jack is one of the driving forces for us in midfield and we have missed him.”

Watson will return to a side that suffered a late 3-2 loss at Saffron Walden last time out.

Goals either side of the break, from player-assistant manager Michael Shinn and Stephen Spriggs, put Newmarket 2-1 in front, but the hosts hit back with two goals, the second of which came in stoppage time.

“It was our own fault because we gifted them the first goal and then did not clear the second ball for their winner,” said Grainger.

“At 2-1 in front we seemed to have plenty of the play, but then faded a little and they came into the game.

“Even so, we were very unlucky to lose the game — a draw would have been the fairest result.”

The loss — Newmarket’s 10th in the league this term — has left them ninth in the table with 47 points.

n One place above Newmarket are Ely City, despite having suffered a 2-1 defeat on the Norfolk coast at Gorleston on Saturday.

It all looked to be going well for the Robins when they took a 1-0 lead into the break thanks to Jonathan Brown, who applied the finishing touch from a corner.

However, the Gorleston comeback started just five minutes after the restart when striker Joel Watts flicked in at the near post from a George Yusuff cross.

And Yusuff was the provider of Gorleston’s winning goal seven minutes from time when he picked out Ross Gilfedder and the substitute slotted the ball home.

To compound Ely’s misery, goalscorer Brown was given his marching orders in injury time for throwing the ball at an opponent.

Ely — winless in their last three outings — will aim to bounce back when Stanway Rovers (7th) visit the Ellgia Stadium.

When the sides met earlier in the campaign, a single goal from Ely’s Alex Theobald was enough to secure all three points.

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