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Haverhill Rovers teenage sensations Tyger Smalls and Josh Revell wonder goals snatch all three points at home to Thetford




They were two goals worthy of winning any football match, and thankfully for Haverhill Rovers on Tuesday evening, they did just that.

It had been a largely frustrating night for Fergus O’Callaghan’s men, who trailed early on at the newly-sponsored Culina Hub, The New Croft to Thetford Town full-back Andrew Cusack’s clever finish.

But irritation made way for elation in the space of a couple of second-half minutes when teenagers Josh Revell and then substitute Tyger Smalls wowed the home faithful with moments fit to grace football at any level.

Haverhill Rovers v Thetford Town Joshua Revell scores for Haverhill Picture by Mark Westley. (15195571)
Haverhill Rovers v Thetford Town Joshua Revell scores for Haverhill Picture by Mark Westley. (15195571)

Speaking after the 2-1 victory, which moved Rovers up to fourth in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division standings, O’Callaghan said: “We were not tight, not marking well enough and gave them too much time on the ball during the first half.

“We needed to step it up because we were nowhere near our level, but it became apparent in the second half that we found that level.

“When I sent Tyger on I told him to get at their right-back and just enjoy himself. I am not going to put any restrictions on a lad like that.

Haverhill Rovers v Thetford Town Joshua Revell scores for Haverhill Picture by Mark Westley. (15195689)
Haverhill Rovers v Thetford Town Joshua Revell scores for Haverhill Picture by Mark Westley. (15195689)

“If you want the best out of such a talent you have to help him to enjoy it and hopefully he is in the right environment to do that here. He has a very good future ahead of him.

“Josh has scored a brilliant goal for us – he is one of a few diamonds I have got in that dressing room.

“I am getting the lads to work hard, I like an industrious side, and tonight we have got what we wanted.

“We always look for more, we are greedy, but I am content with how it has gone so far with the two league wins.”

Haverhill Rovers v Thetford Town Tyger Smalls Thetford Picture by Mark Westley. (15195574)
Haverhill Rovers v Thetford Town Tyger Smalls Thetford Picture by Mark Westley. (15195574)

While O’Callaghan was smiling at the final whistle, he would not have been quite as chirpy at the break.

Visiting Thetford broke the deadlock in the 11th minute, with the only surprise being that it had taken them that long.

Michael Campbell was denied by Rovers goalkeeper Toby Egan and Kieran Michaels got back to hack a Max Melanson effort off the line before Andrew Cusack nipped in on the blindside of the home defence to smartly apply the finishing touch.

As the half progressed, Egan did well to turn away Melanson’s low drive before the ever-willing Campbell raced clear of the Haverhill defence, but, with the angle narrowing, his low effort skidded wide of the far post.

Notable Haverhill attacks, meanwhile, were few and far between. Midfielder Luke Haines had their best attempt in the 25th minute with a speculative curling effort from distance that cannoned against the upright.

After Campbell shot wide again at the start of the second half, the first signs of a Haverhill revival came when captain Alfie Carroll’s looping header at the back post was cleared off the line by Thetford’s Ross Bailey.

Rovers frontman Jordan Palmer was thwarted in similar fashion in the 67th minute and two minutes later 16-year-old Smalls fired Thetford a warning sign with a stinging shot that Will Viner did well to save.

However, in the 73rd minute Viner could do little to prevent Revell from drawing the hosts level.

The attack-minded midfielder was not exactly afforded a plethora of options when he inherited possession 35 yards from goal, so he instead unleashed a shot that swerved viciously and then dipped over Thetford’s number one.

And within two minutes Smalls had got in on the act, blasting in what turned out to be the winner.

The youngster lifted the ball over two Thetford defenders inside the box and before the ball had bounced, he smashed a volley into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Next up for Haverhill is a home encounter against Whitton United on Saturday, when they will look to make it three straight league wins at the start of 2019/20.

Haverhill: Egan, Mills, Walker, Michaels (Dinnell 84), Carroll, Porter, Logan (Smalls 64), Haines, Palmer, Revell, Tait

Attendance: 113

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