Borough take last-gasp win

LAST-GASP WINNER: Ashley Botten celebrates after scoring in the 92nd minute to take the 3-2 home win, as Rovers captain Sam Holmes looks gutted
LAST-GASP WINNER: Ashley Botten celebrates after scoring in the 92nd minute to take the 3-2 home win, as Rovers captain Sam Holmes looks gutted
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Five goals, four bookings, a disallowed goal denying a hat-trick, seven offsides and final minute drama — Haverhill’s derby had all the ingredients of a great game for the fans.

And that was how both managers saw it, a close match that was, ultimately, good for football in the town.

Rovers’ manager was magnanimous in the 3-2 defeat in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division clash, as he watched his side reeled back in from a 2-0 first half advantage.

Marc Abbott praised the opposition for their refusal to give up on chasing an equaliser, and then winner.

He said they ‘thoroughly deserved their three points’ as Rovers failed to defend well enough at the end of the game.

Rafal Wozniak had fired the side into a two-goal lead as the visitors ran riot on the 3G pitch in the first half and could easily have found themselves further ahead at the break.

But it was a game both managers described as one of two halves, as the home team came out a different side for the second half.

They pulled a goal back early in the half before a scintillating final five minutes which saw them equalise and then claim a 92nd minute winner to seal victory.

It also saw the hosts take the bragging rights by claiming the second win of their three meetings.

Assistant manager Cody Frazier — stepping in for Anthony Choat who was away — was all praise.

He said: “I was over the moon with the equaliser and I’m not sure any of us thought it could then get even better.

“But what a finish to wrap up an exciting game.

“I’m delighted for the lads, they’ve worked so hard over the last few months but results haven’t gone our way.

“But we’ve stuck at it and it’s starting to pay off on the pitch.”

They went into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture on November 3, before finding themselves two goals down after 21 minutes.

Frazier said: “I was brutally honest at half-time. I told them we hadn’t turned up and were playing naively too, it was really windy but we weren’t playing the conditions at all.

“We made silly decisions as, I think, the occasion got to us a bit. We were a bit disjointed and allowed them to dictate the play early on.

“Not to take away from Rovers, they very much deserved their lead. But we played our way back into it.

“I also said to the team that there are four or five hundred people out there that you’re proving right, that Rovers are the biggest club in the town.

“And this was our chance to prove we are as big now.

“What a way to prove it, we definitely left it late.”

Abbott, meanwhile, was critical of his side’s second half performance, blaming an ‘unprofessional’ approach to containing Borough attacks.

He said: “We failed to kill the game at two goals up.

“We should have come in four or five ahead, as the weather did play a part and that was when we had the advantage.

“So we knew it would be a tough second half but to chuck away two goals in the last five minutes is not the way we want to be going.

“The bottom line is, we didn’t manage the game from the front, they were still creating chances by putting the ball into (attacking) areas and causing trouble. And it’s going to be a tough and long season if we aren’t protecting leads.

“Especially if we can’t motivate ourselves to do it at The New Croft.

“A week’s break before our next match (a home game against Fakenham on Saturday, 3pm) will be important to get some good training sessions in first.”

He said he was confident in the quality of his squad but felt leadership and a steady head were, at times, lacking.

He added: “We go again Saturday and I’m sure we’ll pull some results in.”