Sunday, 4 March 2007

03/03/2007 - Thetford Town 0 Haverhill Rovers 3

I really like watching Eastern Counties League matches. The games don't seem to be played at the frenetic pace of the Ryman where fitness and speed overwhelm skill and finesse.

And this means that there is more space on the pitch, more time on the ball and more entertainment for the impartial observer.

Or perhaps I've just been lucky with the two ECL matches that I've seen, but both the game at Stanway Rovers and this effort on the Norfolk side of the border with Suffolk were thoroughly entertaining affairs.

We had travelled up to a small campsite just outside Bury St Edmunds on Friday night and we made the short journey to Thetford on Saturday afternoon after a somewhat fraught affair in the morning when I managed to get the motorhome stuck on some grass in the campsite and had to be dragged off by a JCB...

After we'd all had a good laugh about that... we set off for Thetford at around 2pm, arriving at the ground via a Sainsburys where we stocked up on sweets and DVDs for the kids to keep them quiet while I slipped off to the football accompanied by the dogs (for the first half at least).

Thetford's aging stadium is sitting slap bang alongside some new commercial development so there is a temporary fence between this development's car park and the ground. This fencing has fallen over and so you have the humourous site of spectators having to walk halfway around the ground before they can reach the area where the man stands taking money and dishing out programmes.

Despite its ramshackle appearance Thetford Town's ground has a real old-school feel with the players emerging from dungeon-like changing rooms through the tunnel between the seated areas of the stands. Alongside the stand is a snack bar entitled 'The Dogs' not sure if this is the nickname of the team, the snack bar, or if indeed this is what was on the menu, but the waft of the bacon rolls was the best sniffed so far this year. Very tempting.

The game cracked off at a rattling pace with both sides going close in the opening exchanges. Haverhill looked to have the dominant upper hand but were rattled - along with their left upright - by a curling effort from Thetford which was unlucky not to find the back of the net.

However, with so much attacking on view, it was only a matter of time before the first goal came and indeed it rewarded the Rovers for their early enterprise within the first 10 minutes.

Surprising then that we reached half time without any further scoring. I took the opportunity to drop the dogs off in the motorhome and get the old camera out for some pictures and I was glad I did as I managed to capture Haverhill's second goal, a fine header from a corner.

Just prior to this the home keeper had bundled the Rovers centre forward over in the box and then saved the penalty which culminated from this foul and then with about 15 minutes to go we were treated to an excellent finish for Rovers' third.

The two teams had drawn 3-3 in the corresponding fixture earlier in the year, but there really was no sign of Thetford grabbing a goal in this one.

And it was the visitor officials who were looking smug in the bar after the match after this good away win.

Special mention of note should go to the referee Mr T McCreadie (according to the programme) who was the most lenient official I think I have ever witnessed. Although the players who left the Mundford Road Recreation Ground with stud marks up their back may not concur...