Haverhill Rovers end wait for Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division victory over Mildenhall Town
Haverhill Rovers secured the first Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division victory of James Bloomfield’s managerial tenure on Tuesday evening, and in doing so ended the club’s extended wait for a win over Mildenhall Town.
Rovers headed to Recreation Way having won none of their previous six league meetings with the hosts, losing five of those.
However, despite falling behind to an own goal from their goalkeeper James Young, a youthful Haverhill side rallied and were rewarded with a goal in each half from Ryan Gibbs, which sealed a first Premier Division triumph at Mildenhall’s expense since November 2014.
When these two sides met earlier in the campaign on September 4, Mildenhall were the dominant force and they made good use of the ball that night, eventually running out comfortable 4-1 winners at The New Croft.
But, while Ricky Cornish's men once again controlled the contest in terms of possession, on this occasion they found it tough to carve open a stubborn Rovers defence that was well led by captain Alfie Carroll.
During what was a largely lacklustre first half the hosts broke the deadlock in the 31st minute. Mildenhall left-back Joe Asensi curled in a corner from that right that Young – while trying to clear the danger – appeared to direct the ball into his own net.
With no wins in their previous six league games heading into this contest, Rovers’ reaction to falling behind was always going to be key to the outcome. A relatively inexperienced team could have folded and lost by a similar margin to the reverse fixture, but this time they stuck to the task in hand and got themselves level two minutes before the break when Gibbs showed good composure inside the box, taking a touch to steady himself before slotting beyond Jake Hayhoe in the home goal.
And just 10 minutes after the restart the former Bury Town and Needham Market frontman edged his team in front. On this occasion he looped a perfectly weighted header over Hayhoe, who got a slight glove on the ball but could do little to prevent the goal.
For a period thereafter it felt like Mildenhall were camped in the Haverhill half, and yet for all of that control, much of their football was played in front of a well organised Rovers rearguard.
The best chance to restore parity during that spell was presented to leading marksman Jack Brame, but his close-range header from Alex Steed’s cross lacked power and was held by Young.
As the second half wore on Rovers had three good opportunities to make the points safe but Ben Tait, Gibbs and substitute Tomasz Siemienczuk were all unable to convert when well placed.
And the trio were indebted in the final minute of normal time to their ‘keeper Young, who back-peddled quickly before showing good reflexes to tip over in-form Matt Green’s dipping header.
Mildenhall: Hayhoe, Yallop, Butcher, Weavers, Asensi, Green, Steed, Chaplin, Nolan, Canfer, Brame
Haverhill: Young, Mills, Fox, Berkane, Carroll, Porter, Smalls, Michaels, Tait, Gibbs, Hall
Man of the Match – Alfie Carroll (Haverhill): It was tough to not give this to Gibbs considering his two goals, but Carroll was a real leader for Rovers. Mildenhall sent in a number of crosses over the 90 minutes, many of which were cleared by the skipper.
*For reaction to the game at Recreation Way, see this week's print editions.