THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
Stowmarket Town 2
Haverhill Rovers 1
A goal in the closing stages by Josh Mayhew gave Stowmarket Town a win from a game that Haverhill Rovers arguably deserved a point from.
With several regulars missing, season debuts were given to Rhys Shulver and Paul Miles, the latter of whom played his first competitive game for eight years and his first for Rovers for almost 15 years.
The hosts took the lead after 22 minutes with a fine strike from Amar Lewis, who took his time near the left corner of the area before hitting a left-footed shot that curled into the net, just past the foot of the far right post and just out of the reach of fully-stretched goalkeeper Charlie Turner’s hand.
Half chances for Lawrence Healey and Rory Jebb, both of whom fired well wide of the near post, were the best the away side could muster before they lost winger Healey through injury with 40 minutes gone.
After the break, with Rovers hard to break down in the first half, they adopted more of an attacking approach and it paid dividends three minutes after the restart.
Player-manager Marc Abbott’s corner was headed away at the near post, but Miles headed it back towards Abbott, who dribbled past two defenders before hitting a shot left of goal and 12 yards out into the stanchion behind the far top corner and past Stowmarket goalkeeper James Bradbrook.
Rovers’ hearts were broken, however, with 85 minutes gone when a free-kick from 35 yards out was chipped into the penalty area. The ball was headed across from the left and then towards goal, with Turner pulling off an excellent save, but the ball was loose and Mayhew was the first to react to head in the rebound.
There was a great opportunity for a second equaliser for Rovers in the 89th minute after Phil Weavers’ lax header back to Bradbrook, but Abbott could only steer the ball between the goal and his advancing team-mates.
The defeat, Abbott’s first since taking over as player-manager two weeks ago, leaves Rovers in 15th place in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division table.
Rovers were due to visit Premier Division rivals Ipswich Wanderers in the second round of the Omni Freight Services Suffolk Premier Cup last night.
The two sides have not met in the Premier Division this season, but are due to meet at The New Croft a week on Saturday, November 25, with the return tie scheduled for March 31, next year.
Before then, Rovers travel to Histon on Saturday (3pm), before hosting Coggeshall Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Haverhill Rovers: Turner, Shulver, Fox, Miles, Watson, Milne (c), Abbott, Haines, Jebb (Palmer 70), Healey (Tait 40), Burr (Hogg 83). Sub not used: Stevenson.