Haverhill Borough 3
Whitton United 2
Skipper Gareth Thomas was delighted with Borough’s performance — but admitted the scoreline should have been more emphatic.
Midfielder Ryan Phillips, a summer signing from Hardwick, scored his first two goals for his new team and set up the third in what was a largely dominant display by Borough.
Saturday’s game was intended to be a first for Borough on their new 3G pitch, but issues with some aspects of the facility — not the pitch — meant it had to be switched to the neighbouring grass pitch at The New Croft.
Phillips’ brace and a header from Matt Staines had put Borough 3-0 up after 60 minutes.
The hosts were left to rue not taking any of their 11 other clear goal-scoring opportunities when Whitton pulled the deficit back to 3-2 with 82 minutes on the clock to set up an unwanted, tense finale, which ultimately saw Borough prevail in their first home match of the season.
Skipper Thomas said: “The overall result I’m pleased with. It’s a first game at home and a win, but we should have been out of sight.
“If we had been as clinical as we should have been it would have been an even better win.
“It’s nice to come home after five away games on the spin and get a win and keep the unbeaten run going. I think we played some lovely football.
“Our third goal — what a team goal — with some lovely first-touch football and then a lovely ball to the far post.”
Whitton’s propensity to concede possession while trying to play out from the back under pressure was a factor throughout and within 15 minutes goalkeeper David Goldie had produced the first few of what were to be many outstanding saves.
First, he pushed out Staines’ powerful low shot, then reacted superbly to keep out Craig Pruden’s follow-up volley before shovelling Phillips’ close-range header around the post.
Just two minutes later, Goldie had to again deny Staines after he intercepted a loose square pass from defender James Gregory before firing off a shot.
Whitton’s keeper saved Pruden’s sidefoot effort from six yards on 25 minutes after he was set up by Phillips’ run and pull back from the byline, but Goldie was finally beaten on 34 minutes.
Phillips collected the ball just outside the angle of the penalty box and fizzed a daisy cutter just inside the far post.
Pruden and Ryan Swallow both missed the target from great positions and Whitton’s Jamelle Parke-Jude fired just over from their first real opening on 49 minutes before Borough extended their lead one minute later.
Gregory failed to deal with a bouncing ball and Pruden broke clear on goal, only for Goldie to parry his shot.
Phillips’ collected the loose ball however and rifled a shot into the roof of the net.
Five minutes later it was 3-0 after Tommy Hardwick and Pruden combined to set up a first-time cross from Phillips that Staines met with a thumping far post header.
Whitton pulled their first goal back on 70 minutes through Parke-Jude’s sidefoot finish from six yards.
Kieran Driver then fell theatrically after cutting inside past Thomas and to everyone’s surprise referee Reg Barker awarded a spot-kick.
Despite Graham Smith getting both hands to the ball, Driver’s penalty found the net to make it 3-2 after 82 minutes.
There were to be no further chances for either team however, as Borough deservedly came out on top to stay unbeaten after six matches.
Borough: Smith, Hardwick, Bone, Pater, Westcott, Thomas, Phillips, Robson, Pruden (Thompson 65), Swallow, Staines (Forshaw 72). Unused sub: O’Connor.
n Haverhill Borough’s home FA Vase tie with Haverhill Rovers will be played at 8.05pm on Friday, September 23 and not September 24.
Rovers return to action when they host Brantham Athletic on Saturday (3pm).