Ghosts give Tong's Bloaters a scare in Ridgeons League
The league's bottom team, Fakenham, gave their former manager Paul Tong's promoted Great Yarmouth a scare when they took the lead early second half.But the Bloaters hit back to win 2-1 ahead of what could be the Division One championship decider tomorrow night when second-placed FC Clacton - two points behind Yarmouth - visit the Wellesley, ko 8pm.
The league's bottom team, Fakenham, gave their former manager Paul Tong's promoted Great Yarmouth a scare when they took the lead early second half.
But the Bloaters hit back to win 2-1 ahead of what could be the Division One championship decider tomorrow night when second-placed FC Clacton - two points behind Yarmouth - visit the Wellesley, ko 8pm. If Yarmouth win, they take the title. Any other result and it goes right to the wire in the final games on Saturday. Clacton clinched promotion at the weekend.
Fakenham's performance was typical of the revival which has taken place under Wayne Anderson.
They have tightened up their defence under the influence of such players as Lee Hyde and Mat Gilchrist but are missing the cutting edge of strikers who left the club ahead of Anderson's arrival, frustrated by lack of service up front.
Yarmouth, unbeaten at home in the league this season, after a goalless first half when they spurned five good chances, saw the Ghosts go ahead five minutes into the second period.
With the Bloaters pressing for a goal, a Scott Woodcock shot hit the Fakenham bar, and when it was cleared upfield Daryll Rose ran through a sparse home defence to fire past Michael Hilton.
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Fakenham, without an away win all season, grew in confidence and Hyde then shot wide. But in the 67th minute the Bloaters drew level when another Woodcock shot hit the bar but this time bounced down and spun into the net.
The home crowd drew a collective breath of relief and then went wild when Yarmouth found an 80th minute winner from that old master Stewart Roach.
Olly Savage, as so often this season, produced the perfect cross into the box and a diving Roach header finally exorcised the Ghosts' threat to their home record.
Tong, well aware of the Fakenham spirit, had warned this was going to be a tough game.
“When I told the lads at the Gorleston game if they went on and won all seven of our last games the title would be theirs, the one game I feared the most was Fakenham.
“They've always been a bit of a bogey side to Yarmouth even when they've fallen on hard times. They played very well today, but we also made it difficult for ourselves.
“I said to the lads at half-time they have a great opportunity: they've already created one bit of history - a first Yarmouth promotion - and they have the opportunity to do something they'll remember for the rest of their lives.
“They're a great bunch and they keep going where a lot of teams wouldn't.”
Ahead of the final whistle of this season, Anderson has started the task of rebuilding the Fakenham's fortunes.
“I am hunting people already, and players are already on the phone wanting to come,” he said.
Diss went on a scoring spree against a struggling Ipswich Wanderers, beating their visitors 8-1, while Gorleston stayed fourth in the division with a 1-0 win at Long Melford.
Thetford finished their season on a high with a 3-1 victory over Halstead Town.
Town took the lead on 55 minutes through Howard following a corner. They increased their lead on 70 minutes when Dixon turned the defender and cut in to score from an acute angle.
Halstead pulled a goal back on 73 minutes but Town regained their composure and sealed the points on 89 minutes when Mann scored from close range.
In the Premier Division, Wroxham went down 2-1 at Ely, Kirkley & Pakefield lost 3-0 at Mildenhall and Wisbech lost 2-1 at Newmarket.
Dereham brightened the scene, however, with a 5-1 win at Wivenhoe.
Manager Matt Henman, aware that generally his side has had a below-par season, said before the game: “We're already working hard towards next season and it's very pleasing that we in the last week renewed some of our top players' contracts for next season.
“A few more will follow in the next fortnight and we also have a wish list of players who, we believe, will improve our squad.