Six-goal derby thriller leads to three points for Newmarket Town as Haverhill Rovers' new signing and former pro Josh Simpson cannot change home team's fate
Despite the arrival of a former Cambridge United player to their ranks, Haverhill Rovers could not prevent a 4-2 loss at home to Newmarket Town on Saturday.
The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division club were excited by the arrival of 31-year-old Josh Simpson ahead of the reverse fixture at The New Croft – with the two clubs having drawn 1-1 in Newmarket in August.
Simpson, who counts Histon, Southend United and Peterborough United among his former clubs, has only joined the Reds’ ranks temporarily, according to manager Marc Abbott, but will be a great asset for the time they have him.
“Josh has played 250 professional games and is a very good friend of mine,” Abbott said.
“He’s trained with us recently and we could support him in his recovery from injuries with some much-needed game time.
“It will not be a long term signing as he still can perform at a high standard but to be able to bring these types of players into our environment – he’s won leagues – is brilliant for our young players.”
But the former U’s midfielder was unable to prevent The Jockeys inflicting a counter-attacking masterclass on his debut, with the away team netting three unanswered goals in the first period – with the first goal coming after just 11 seconds – before wrapping it up with a fourth in the second half.
Despite having numerous chances, Rovers failed to score from open play as Newmarket defended solidly from deep – only attacking when the chance presented.
The home team managed to score two goals – both from set-pieces – in the second half as Luke Haines netted from a free-kick before Mitchell Burr converted a penalty. But Rovers never looked likely to bridge the four-goal gap.
Assistant manager Dario Seminario was philosophical about the defeat, which comes after they lost their joint-top goal scorer Prince Mutswunguma to Soham Town Rangers, as they look forward to Saturday’s trip to Whitton United (3pm).
“It’s not a great feeling to go 4-0 down at home,” he said. “We reacted well, but it was too late. The mentality was to never give up though, and that’s good for the rest of the season.
“The problems were individual mistakes in defence, there’s no big gap between us, it was mistakes at key moments.
“We need to have the confidence back – losing a goal in the first 20 seconds had a big impact on our performance – so we need to forget about this one and go again on Saturday.”
Rovers: Ware, Geoghegan, Fox, Simpson, Holmes (c), Noble, Haines, Bradley, Lovell, Burr, Davis
Echo Man of the Match: Burr – lively and positive.
l The club held a minute’s silence and the first team wore black armbands on Saturday in honour of former Haverhill Rovers chairman Ray Esdale.
Ray, father of committee member Steven, was held in high regard at the club, having been heavily involved with Rovers from the 1980s to mid-1990s, alongside wife Sue.