Goalkeepers in spotlight as dramatic delay fails to stop league leaders marching on

PUBLISHED: 13:53 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:53 29 March 2017

An excellent day for football on Saturday saw an eventful afternoon at Walmer Road when Kirkley & Pakefield welcomed leaders and champions-elect Mildenhall who pulled off a crucial 2-1 victory.

The game opened at an explosive pace with end-to-end attacking, but on six minutes a Jack Herbert header gave the Royals an early lead.

With play still even on 19 minutes the Hall got an unexpected corner from which home keeper Luis Tibbles made a fine save from under the bar only to see Mildenhall’s Aaron Mackay hammer the ball through a crowded penalty area into the net to level the scores.

Some excellent goalkeeping from both Tibbles and long-serving Josh Pope in the away goal, restricted both sides, Pope brilliantly tipping over a 25-yard free-kick from Miguel Lopez.

The goalkeepers continued to dominate early in the second half with both sides unlucky not to increase their tally. But on 63 minutes a fine volley by Steve Spriggs found the net to put the league leaders ahead.

On 82 minutes the match took a dramatic turn when Mildenhall’s George Tolliday, who had just returned to the team, jumped for a header and fell awkwardly, landing on his arm, leaving it badly broken. With the player in a bad state, play was held up with most of the players leaving the field.

After a short warm-up the match resumed after a 56-minute delay. Although the Royals attacked for most of the remaining minutes, the league leaders held firm with the match eventually concluding at 5.50pm.

It was a match played in good spirit with attacking football throughout with both goalkeepers the stars.

All at Kirkley & Pakefield wish Mildenhall’s Tolliday a speedy recovery, with thanks to the Norfolk Ambulance Service for the speedy and thorough way they dealt with the incident and to the commonsense of all officials and players during the delay.

Kirkley: Tibbles, Grint, Whiteside, Smith, Herbert, Eagleton, Will (Hammond), Haverson, Stone, Lopez, Holt (Tacon). Subs: Woods.

Tomorrow Kirkley & Pakefield travel to second-placed Felixstowe & Walton for a 3pm kick-off. After a blank Saturday, the Reserves travel to play league leaders Spixworth in a re-arranged league match at 2.30pm.

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