THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Haverhill Borough 4
Even in the midst of their 10-game winless run in all competitions, Haverhill Borough boss Anthony Choat always retained the belief that his side belonged in the Thurlow Nunn League’s top flight.
And, after his players stopped the rot in emphatic style at Walsham-le-Willows on Saturday, there was an indication that the squad now share their manager’s unwavering viewpoint.
Borough had not scored four goals in any of their previous 21 league fixtures, but they took just 45 minutes to do just that at Summer Road, leaving their hosts with little more than pride to play for after the restart.
It is a victory that lifted Borough up to fourth from bottom, and Choat is hopeful the garnered confidence will lead to further progression up the table over the coming weeks.
“They know they can do it now — it is about belief more than anything,” he said.
“Sometimes things do not go your way and you start doubting yourself as a player.
“When confidence is low it does hamper performances.
“But I have never doubted myself as a manager and I have never doubted the quality that is in the changing room.
“We showed what we can do last year by getting promotion and granted, the teams we are playing this season are better, but it is not an outrageously big jump.
“We were electric in the first half and for whatever reason they could not cope.
“We have been on the receiving end of some of those this season, but this shows what we can really do.”
Returning centre-backs Cameron Watson and Casey Phillips both came into the heart of the Borough defence, protecting goalkeeper Ed Greenall, who at the age of just 16 was making his debut between the posts in the absence of regular number one Graham Smith.
That trio all played their part in the win, but it was Borough’s forward-thinking players that had put the game out of sight by the halfway point.
After a bright start the deadlock was broken with only eight minutes on the clock.
The impressive Ryan Swallow broke clear of the Walsham defence and then showed good awareness to square for an unmarked Ryan Weaver, who slotted his shot inside Tom Coombe’s near post.
Up the other end Ryan Twinn sent a header skidding wide, while soon after Craig Pruden wasted a good chance to double Borough’s lead after he had been released by Weaver.
However, the away team did not have to wait too much longer for their second goal, which was scored in the 18th minute.
Swallow’s slide-rule pass split two Walsham defenders and released Weaver inside the box.
But, just as the winger was about to pull the trigger, he was upended by Coombe and Rory Bone duly converted the resultant spot kick in calm fashion.
There was some rare defending for Borough to do in the 36th minute as Tommy Hardwick hacked clear off the line following a goalmouth scramble, before Jarid Robson stepped up to the plate for the men in blue.
His first of two quickfire goals in the 40th minute came from a classic counter-attack, started by Bone’s switch of play from left to right.
Pruden’s first touch was deft and, after jinking back inside his marker he crossed left-footed into the area, where Robson got up above Callum Dongray to plant a header into the bottom corner.
And in stoppage-time Borough’s number 10 took matters into his own hands, lashing a 25-yard strike into the top corner to add further gloss to a stellar first-half display.
The second half was barley two minutes old when Walsham’s Jack Brame nodded in at the back post. But with Borough’s recent defensive additions in stubborn mood, any hopes of a spectacular comeback were soon extinguished.
In fact, it was Borough that looked the more likely to score the game’s sixth goal, with centre-forward Charlie Holmes going close on two occasions.
Meanwhile, in the 79th minute Greenall capped what had been a notable debut for one so young with an athletic save down to his right to thwart Walsham’s half-time substitute Cameron Nicholls.
On his young custodian, Choat said: “He is a local lad that came in to help out with the reserves.
“Our first-choice goalkeeper could not make it today and Ed has not let us down.
“He has made some great saves and we are really pleased with his performance.”