It was a highly-frustrating final day of the Thurlow Nunn League season for all connected with Thetford Town and Halstead Town, with both set to be facing each other in the First Division next season after defeats led to the former being relegated and the latter missing out on promotion.
Danny White’s Thetford went to fourth-placed Felixstowe & Walton United knowing that they needed to win and hope Swaffham Town lost as they looked to overturn a two-point deficit.
But in the end it was Fakenham Town (1-0 win at Walsham-le-Willows) who pulled off the great escape, taking advantage of Swaffham’s 3-1 home defeat to Saffron Walden Town.
Thetford went down 3-1 (HT 2-0) on the Suffolk coast in what was their fourth straight defeat, leaving them second bottom and condemned to playing a level lower in the First Division next season.
Daniel White had pulled a goal back for the Brecklanders in the final 10 minutes, with the Norfolk side having been 2-0 down inside 22 minutes.
Elswhere in the Premier Division, Mildenhall Town (6th) warmed up for today’s Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup final (Monday, May 2 3pm) against champions Norwich United at Diss Town (updates to comes on Twitter via @liamapicella) with a 2-0 win at Long Melford via a brace from Chris Bacon. The Villagers, in their first ever season in the Premier Division, finished 9th.
Haverhill Rovers ended the campaign 12th after a 1-0 home defeat to Kirkley & Pakefield, while Newmarket Town were a place below them, losing 3-2 at Whitton on the final day.
Walsham’s home defeat saw them finish up in 14th place, having staved off relegation, while former champions (2013/14) Hadleigh United ended 7th with a 3-2 win over Swaffham, who could still yet get a relegation repireve, depending on movements up-and-down the football pyramid.
In the First Division, Halstead Town’s dreams of a final day promotion were put to bed as they suffered a 1-0 defeat at runners-up Ely City.
Luke Mansfield hit the only goal of the game at The Unwin Ground as Ely celebrated their promotion with a final victory.
Elswhere, AFC Sudbury Reserves hit six unanswered goals past Leiston Reserves (Charlie Gilbert hat-trick) to finish 10th, Diss Town ended their first season since relegation 7th after a 3-1 win at Cornard United (15th) and Debenham LC’s 2-1 defeat at March Town United left them 13th.
Haverhill Borough ended 8th after a 1-1 draw at Woodbridge Town, Stowmarket Town finished 14th having already played their last game, while Team Bury and Needham Market Reserves ended a disappointing campaigns in the bottom two with both going down to final-day defeats.
In the Barclays Premier League Norwich City’s 1-0 defeat at Arsenal (Danny Welbeck), coupled with a win for Newcastle and draw for Sunderland leaves the Canaries two points and two places from safety with two games to play.
Ipswich Town won their final game of the 2015/16 season at Portman Road 3-2 against relegated MK Dons courtesy of a last-mintue goal from Luke Varney.
David McGoldrick had put the Blues ahead before The Don’s Alex Reavell scored a brace sandwiched between a Brett Pitman header, but Varney ensured a first win in eight for The Tractor Boys who can finish no lower than 8th ahead of their final day outing at play-off guaranteed Derby County, with a win and defeat for Cardiff City ensuring 7th.
* *Read our fans’ views on both Ipswich Town and Norwich City in our print editions later this week, while extended highlights of Ipswich Town’s Saturday game can be viewed via a payment subscriber service on the club’s official website
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
Arsenal 1 Norwich City 0.
SKY BET CHAMPIONSHIP
Ipswich Town 3 Milton Keynes Dons 2.
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Premier Division: Felixstowe & Walton Utd 3 Thetford Town 1; Hadleigh Utd 3 Swaffham Town 2; Haverhill Rovers 0 Kirkley & Pakefield 1; Long Melford 0 Mildenhall Town 2; Walsham le Willows 0 Fakenham Town 1; Whitton Utd 3 Newmarket Town 2.
First Division: AFC Sudbury Res 6 Leiston 0; Cornard Utd 1 Diss Town 3; Ely City 1 Halstead Town 0; Great Yarmouth Town 1 Team Bury 0; King’s Lynn 4 Braintree Town 1; March Town Utd 2 Debenham LC 1; Wivenhoe Town 2 Needham Market Res 1; Woodbridge Town 1 Haverhill Borough 1.
League Cup: Mildenhall Town v Norwich Utd.