Saturday's local football round-up

AERIAL BATTLE: Needham Market captain Gareth Heath wins a header against league leaders Dulwich Hamlet   Picture: Ben Pooley
AERIAL BATTLE: Needham Market captain Gareth Heath wins a header against league leaders Dulwich Hamlet Picture: Ben Pooley

Bury Town made it three straight wins to rekindle their hopes of a play-off place while Thetford Town continued the feelgood factor and Diss Town managed to stop the rot.

Bury Town's unlikely-looking pursuit of a Bostik League North Division play-off place now looks back on again after their they made it three straight victories, and all against top-six contenders, with a 2-0 success at Maldon & Tiptree this afternoon putting them just a point from the play-offs.

CLOSE ATTENTION: Needham substitute Brendan Ocran gets tough tight. The loannee was wearing a head bandage after clashing with Jamie Griffiths, who also sported one, in the warm-up   Picture: Ben Pooley

CLOSE ATTENTION: Needham substitute Brendan Ocran gets tough tight. The loannee was wearing a head bandage after clashing with Jamie Griffiths, who also sported one, in the warm-up Picture: Ben Pooley

In a congested area of the table, where the sides sixth to 10th are separated by just two points, Bury moved up a place to ninth, though they have played more games than all their rivals, including four more than sixth-placed Dereham Town.

Down in Essex, Ipswich Town loannee Jack Lankester scored for the second time in his three matches since joining the Blues to give them a sixth minute lead, which they held up to half-time.

The three points were sealed in manager Ben Chenery's absence with illness via top scorer Cemal Ramadan three minutes from time, making it three goals in two games for the ex-Ipswich Town Under-18s striker and taking his tally to 31 in all competitions.

Elsewhere in the division, two goals inside the last 10 minutes saw Mildenhall Town (18th) fall to a home defeat to play-off chasing Barking, with Billy Jones (80') and Ben O'Brien (86') making it back-to-back defeats for Dean Greygoose's side.

NO LUCK: Mildenhall Town's Steve Holder rounds the Barking goalkeeper but was unable to tuck his shot away as the Hall fell to a 2-0 home defeat   Picture: Mark Westley

NO LUCK: Mildenhall Town's Steve Holder rounds the Barking goalkeeper but was unable to tuck his shot away as the Hall fell to a 2-0 home defeat Picture: Mark Westley

Soham Town Rangers (15th) made it four games without defeat as they shared the spoils with Aveley at Julis Martin Lane in a 1-1 draw.

Sam Mulready fired the Greens into the lead in the 24th minute but Tom Richardson levelled the contest with 67 on the clock, which is how it ended.

AFC Sudbury's game at bottom side Romford kicked off more than an hour late (4.22pm) as a result of an accident on the M25 delaying their arrival.

But when the action finally did get under way at Thurrock FC's Ship Lane, there was not much for the lowly crowd to cheer in the first 45 minutes, which ended goalless, before Phil Kelly broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute in what was AFC's first goal in four matches.

NOT HALL'S DAY: Gareth Simpson attempts to gain control of a loose ball against Barking  Picture: Mark Westley

NOT HALL'S DAY: Gareth Simpson attempts to gain control of a loose ball against Barking Picture: Mark Westley

Mark Morsley's side were not able to hold out for all three points though as basement side Romford battled back and eventually got past the excellent Paul Walker 11 minutes from time to see the Yellows slip a place in the table to 13th.

Needham Market were unable to halt Bostik League Premier Division league leaders Dulwich Hamlet in their tracks at Bloomfields as they went down to a 3-0 defeat.

In front of the second biggest crowd of the season at Bloomfields, with 495 in attendance, two early defensive mistakes from the hosts proved costly as Nyren Clunis took advantage twice inside the opening 20 minutes, the opener having come seven minutes in from Afolabi Dipo Akinyemi's excellent throughball.

With strikers John Sands and Adam Mills both out injured, Needham struggled to pose much of an attacking threat, despite the work-rate of Jamie Griffiths and it was effectively game over just after the restart as Nathan Ferguson's low strike from around 22 yards out flew into the bottom corner in the 47th minute.

HOME DEFEAT: Jemel Fox looks to win the ball back for Haverhill Rovers against FC Clacton  Picture: Tudor Morgan-Owen

HOME DEFEAT: Jemel Fox looks to win the ball back for Haverhill Rovers against FC Clacton Picture: Tudor Morgan-Owen

Colchester United loannee Charley Edge was denied a goal on his home debut by Corey Addai just after the hour mark, but other than his long-range shot which fizzed over, it was the nearest Needham came to a goal of their own.

The result saw Needham drop three places in the table to 17th ahead of their trip to face Metropolitan Police (11th) on Tuesday.

In the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, Stowmarket Town saw their pursuit of a promotion place suffer a potentially fatal blow with their first away defeat since September coming at Godmanchester Rovers, for whom a single goal was enough.

Jack Chandler struck in the first half in what proved to be the game's decisive moment, with the defeat leaving Rick Andrew's side 12 points off second-placed Coggeshall Town, who won 1-0 at relegation-threatened Hadleigh United (21st) on Friday evening.

After booking their place in their first ever Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup final in midweek, Thetford Town (12th) continued the feelgood factor with a 1-0 win at fourth-placed Histon, thanks to striker Andrew Wood's 18th minute strike, but for Haverhill Rovers (18th) it was a disappointing afternoon as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat to FC Clacton in front of their own supporters.

Ely City (13th) and Long Melford (15th) shared the spoils in The Fens with Callum Hemson having eqaulised for the visitors, with both goals having come in the second half, while Haverhill Borough (20th) were on the end of a 4-0 defeat at league leaders Felixstowe & Walton United, who led 3-0 at half-time after profiting from two penalties.

An end-to-end game at The Bloorie.com Stadium ended with Newmarket Town (9th) sharing the points with Great Yarmouth Town with Lewis Whitehead's first-half strike cancelled out following some mis-communication in defence after the interval.

In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division, Team Bury played only their second home match of 2018, with weather postponements hitting them hard at Ram Meadow, but grabbed only their second victory in 24 matches with a 1-0 success over Holland FC.

The second-from-bottom side were thankful to Harry Moore's 62nd minute header from a corner, which proved to be enough to bag Sam Crook's side all three points.

Halstead Town (9th) made it back-to-back victories after seeing off promotion-chasing Swaffham Town (4th) at the Millbank Stadium with a Lewis Cunliffe header in the first half, the third straight game he has scored in, with the ball deflecting in off Chris Harris for the second after the interval.

Elsewhere, AFC Sudbury Reserves (10th) bounced back from last weekend's heavy defeat with a 2-1 home success over Norwich CBS which saw Callum Watson score twice, while Diss Town (18th) earned a point to end their dismal run of seven defeats with a 2-2 scoreline at Downham Town.

Cornard United (14th) lost 1-0 at Norwich United Reserves, while Framlingham Town (3rd) had kept up the pressure in their pursuit of promotion on Friday evening after a 7-2 victory at basement side Needham Market Reserves. Following today's results, with fourth place Swaffham tasting defeat, it leaves Mel Aldis' Castlemen seven points ahead in that final automatic promotion spot and with four games in hand on the Norfolk side, ahead of travelling to Halstead on Tuesday.

* For reaction to the weekend's games, as well as the midweek results and previews to the busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend programme, see next week's print editions, out Thursday and Friday.