Kieron Hammatt was left ‘extremely disappointed’ after seeing his Haverhill Rovers side crash to defeat in his managerial debut against a Stanway Rovers side he labelled as ‘beatable’ in their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division clash at the New Croft on Saturday (February 16).
The hosts were missing a controlling midfield presence, and despite an even opening half fell behind after Christ Ribchester pounced on Elliott Anderson’s howler.
Kevin Coyle fired home a penalty after Dan Morphew’s needless fowl to wrap up the win mid way through the second half.
The game started slowly but evenly, Callum Harrison’s deflected shot finding the arms of Paul Rutherford before Coyle passed the ball across the area only to see Stuart Kingham clear the danger in the opening exchanges.
Dan Cornwell headed Jack Wilkinson’s cross narrowly wide after 12 minutes while at the other end Lewis Bently headed a corner just over.
Cornwell turned and fired Marc Abbott’s corner over before Coyle laid the ball off for Stuart Fergus on the edge of the box, and his drive forced a diving save from Anderson.
Anderson fast became the villain however when he jumped up the meet the resulting corner but fumbled the ball, and Ribchester pounced on the blunder to head home and put the visitors ahead.
Wilkinson received treatment for an injury but stayed on the pitch, and another Anderson blunder saw him punch the ball from a free kick to the feet of captain Matt Cripps, who failed to compose himself and blasted over the bar.
Cornwell was put through on 38 minutes but saw his smart shot hit the post, though his eagerness to get the ball saw him injure Michael Fitzgibbon with a tackle, who was replaced by Jake Plane.
The striker was booked for the challenge and Rutherford saw yellow after he reacted badly in the altercation.
Cornwell thought he had scored as he watched his chip sail just wide, and Anderson was chipped by Tom Webb but again the ball bounced wide before the break.
Wilkinson was switched for Ross Elkins at the interval, and Rovers looked more composed at the back as Marcus Hunt shifted to his preferred centre half position and Dan Morphew moved to left back.
Hunt almost headed into his own net ten minutes after the restart, and after Coyle headed a free kick over he sprinted clear of Marc Abbott to the byline, but wilted under pressure and fired into the arms of Anderson.
The defining moment came in after 72 minutes when Dan Morphew needlessly gave away a foul inside the box on the byline, and Coyle fired right from the penalty spot as Anderson dived left to double the visitors’ advantage.
Substitute Simon Newnes picked out Cornwell, who flicked the ball on to bar, and Hunt and Cornwell then came close to turning in Higgs’ free kick.
Jake Plane almost made it three for Stanway as he shot from near the corner flag after Anderson strayed from his goal before tripping, and the goalkeeper was then booked after rushing out and clattering into Bently, who had been put clean through.
Cornwell sent the ball across the goal line and Perry Moody saw his header cleared off the line as Rovers pushed in the closing exchanges.
Rovers next play at Mildenhall Town on Saturday (February 23).
For all the latest sport see Thursday’s (February 21) Echo.