THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Newmarket Town 0
Haverhill Rovers 0
When you have conceded 10 goals in your previous two outings, one of the last places you want to be visiting is Newmarket Town.
The Jockeys netted a division-high 122 goals last season and have already scored nine in their first five matches this term.
However, despite slipping to recent 6-1 and 4-1 defeats at the hands of Heybridge Swifts and Walsham-le-Willows respectively, Rovers managed to tame Newmarket on home soil on Tuesday night.
There were moments — as expected — when the visitors had to ride their luck, but overall it was a resolute showing from the men in red.
And assistant manager Rod Gaffan, who was standing in for absent boss Ben Cowling, believes Rovers can now look upwards after their recent defensive woes.
“We set up with a plan and executed it perfectly,” he said.
“From the morale side of things, the thrashing at Heybridge was a low point and against Walsham we saw the hangover from that.
“We talked about what we wanted to do here and how we would go about stopping them.
“They had a few chances obviously and our goalkeeper has had to make some good saves — the ball has fizzed across the box a number of times as well.
“You have to take into account the different budgets the clubs have, but if you dig in and battle, you can get something from any game.
“The draw is like a win and it has lifted morale — you can see that already.
“We have created a curve and now we want to start pushing up it. Not many teams will go toe-to-toe with them here and come away with something.”
There was some early drama at The Ridgeons Stadium when Haverhill centre-forward Rafal Wozniak collided with one of the perimeter fences as he challenged for a loose ball with Newmarket defender Charlie Bowen.
The Haverhill player required extensive treatment to a head wound and while he initially returned bandaged up, the affects of the knock forced him off after 19 minutes.
Prior to that, a flurry of chances for the home team saw Joe Bennett head over, Scott Paterson drag a shot from distance wide and Rovers’ goalkeeper Charlie Turner show good reactions to keep out Stephen Spriggs.
In the 21st minute Newmarket carved out another opening when Thurlbourne — whose accurate left foot caused problems all night — picked out Lewis Whitehead, but with the angle against the Newmarket striker, Turner pushed his effort behind for a corner.
The pressure continued throughout the first half, but Rovers also posed a threat of their own on occasions.
Marcus Hunt will probably feel he should have done better after meeting Marc Abbott’s corner unmarked in the 23rd minute, while Rory Jebb — on for Wozniak — forced a save out of former Rovers’ goalkeeper Alex Archer.
The one-way traffic remained a staple of the second half, with Turner having to be at his best to keep the scoreline blank.
He first thwarted Bennett in the 54th minute after Hunt had been caught dallying in possession, before Whitehead raced clear on to Austen Diaper’s flick on, only to find his route to goal blocked by the Haverhill number one.
Turner’s resistance was finally broken in the 69th minute, but the referee’s assistant came to Haverhill’s rescue when he flagged for offside against Diaper after Paterson’s low shot had diverted off him on its way into the net.
Eleven minutes later it was a similar story — this time it was Whitehead’s celebrations cut short by the flag following Turner’s smart stop down low to frustrate Paterson.
And Newmarket’s irritation almost intensified deep into stoppage time when Rovers’ Jebb had three chances in quick succession to steal the three points.
His first shot was blocked, the second stopped by Archer and the third was deflected over the crossbar.
Haverhill: Turner, Watson, Halls, Haines, Holmes, Hunt, Abbott, Bradley, Palmer (Longley 75), Wozniak (Jebb 19), Enaro
Echo Man of the Match - Charlie Turner: The goalkeeper had to make a number of top saves to ensure his side claimed a share of the spoils.
n Haverhill are back in league action on Saturday when they travel to the Essex coast to take on FC Clacton (3pm).
The Seasiders are 11th in the standings with a return of nine points from their nine games — more than any other side in the division has played.
They head into the encounter with ninth-placed Rovers having beaten Hadleigh United 2-1 last time out.
On Tuesday, Cowling’s men will return to the home comforts of The New Croft when high-flying Histon will be the visitors (7.45pm).
The Stutes, who were relegated from Step Four at the end of last season, are third in the table and are unbeaten in the league so far.