Local football round-up: Planters stretch run, Finch is back, Blues lose, Magpies held

Kieran Higgs was on target for Lowestoft against Stratford Picture: Shirley D Whitlow

Kieran Higgs was on target for Lowestoft against Stratford Picture: Shirley D Whitlow - Credit: Archant

There’s simply no stopping Norwich United, who have opened a five-point gap at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division.

Lowestoft's Ross Jarvis in action Picture: Shirley D Whitlow

Lowestoft's Ross Jarvis in action Picture: Shirley D Whitlow - Credit: Archant

A 3-0 win at Hadleigh United earned the unbeaten Planters their fifth league win in a row to put light between them and nearest challengers Wroxham, who were without a game.

The Yachtsmen have three games in hand and have a change the close the gap when they host Swaffham Town on Tuesday night.

Natty Stewart opened the scoring for United after 51 minutes with his seventh league goal of the season, before Shaun Wones doubled the advantage 14 minutes later. With 12 minutes remaining, Haydn Davis sealed the points.

Christy Finch marked his return to Gorleston with the only goal of the game at Stanway Rovers, giving the Greens their third win in a row.

Louis MacIntosh on the ball for Lowestoft Picture: Shirley D Whitlow

Louis MacIntosh on the ball for Lowestoft Picture: Shirley D Whitlow - Credit: Archant

Gorleston could have led at the break, after Connor Ingram was tripped in the box and picked himself up to take the penalty, only to see keeper Luke Skinner tip his effort around the post for his second Gorleston debut, and his 113th appearance overall.

Chris Henderson hit a post with a 30-yard free-kick, but the decisive moment came seven minutes from time. A lovely link up through the middle involving Connor Deeks and Henderson sent Finch into the box and he scored into the bottom corner for the 84th goal of his Gorleston career.

Swaffham Town made it two league wins in a row when they beat visiting Newmarket Town 3-2.

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The Jockeys went ahead with a 33rd-minute penalty, but Swaffham levelled in the final minute of the first half, Matthew Blackford providing the assist from the left wing and Nick Davey heading home from seven yards.

Six minutes into the second half, Aidan Sewell’s driving run on the right teed up Blackford to score from 10 yards. Blackford got his second eight minutes, benefiting from Tommy Hunt weighted ball over the defence and drilling home a shot from 12 yards.

It could have been put to bed in the 70th after Ty Bond was brought down in the area, but Davey smashed the penalty over. Newmarket reduced the deficit with five minutes remaining, but the Pedlars held out.

There were 2-0 defeats for Thetford Town at home to Long Melford and Kirkley & Pakefield away to Woodbridge Town.

In the First Division North, leaders Fakenham were 2-0 winners at Haverhill Borough, with goals from Callum Brain and Jack Robinson – a penalty save from Tom Coombe ensuring the clean sheet.

Mulbarton Wanderers were 4-0 winners at Debenham LC, with goals from Ian Fancett, Benjamin Jones, Ben Thompson and sub Mark Attfield.

There was also a big win for King’s Lynn Town Reserves, who beat visiting Sheringham 5-2, thanks to four second-half goals. There was a hat-trick for Joe Taylor and one apiece from Joe Gascoigne and Florian Tsagium. Sheringham’s goals were scored by Ben Boyce and Shane Cox. Downham Town were 2-0 winners at Cornard United, Joe Jackson and Ryan Pearson with the goals.

Late Blues blow

A youthful Lowestoft side went down 3-2 at home to Stratford Town in the Southern Premier Central.

With four defenders on the injury list, manager Jamie Godbold gave a first start to 18-year-old Josh Wells to form a central defensive partnership with 20-year-old Levi Andoh. Add in 19-year-old full-back Owen Murphy and it must have been the Trawlerboys’ youngest ever defensive unit – and that lack of experience was evident in the first two Stratford goals.

The game was full of attacking intent from both sides, with Andoh and Jake Reed going close for Lowestoft and Harry White sending a header straight at Luis Tibbles. Stratford took the lead in the 12th minute, William Grocott’s corner knocked on by Ben Birch for Jordan Williams to hook in from close range.

Louis McIntosh had an 18-yard effort pushed away by Tyrell Belford before Lowestoft gained a rather fortunate equaliser. As Reed moved onto a misdirected header by Williams he went down under the challenge of Birch, which seemed more of a slip. That didn’t matter to Jacek Zielonka who slammed home his fourth spot kick of the season.

Parity lasted just four minutes and it was the same pair who caused the damage, with Grocott’s free-kick headed home by Williams.

Lowestoft got their second equaliser three minutes after the break when a quick break down the right saw the ball played inside to Kieran Higgs to net his first competitive goal since his horrendous injury 18 months ago,

Chances came at both ends but in the closing stages Stratford were looking the more likely to score and they got the winning goal as the game entered the 90th minute. Lowestoft lost the ball on their right flank; Ken Feyi took it forward, and when Tibbles could only parry his shot Powell was able to hit the ball into the roof of the net.

Magpies held

Dereham Town were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Coggeshall on the Isthmian League North.

The Magpies fell behind on 29 minutes when Matthew Price headed home. But seven minutes after they were awarded a penalty which Rhys Logan converted to earn a point.

The points were shared at Aldiss Park, as Logan’s second half penalty cancelled out the visitors first half goal.