THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Cornard United 2
Dereham Town Reserves 3
This was a thoroughly enjoyable game with two young sides playing football, barely a hint of cynicism, and the result in doubt to the end.
It was just such a pity there were so few spectators to enjoy it.
Cornard, despite having changes forced on them through injuries in the early part of the game, were always positive, and played well throughout.
Dereham took the same approach, and it made for an entertaining afternoon.
Cornard lost keeper Tim Jeffries after 22 minutes, when he landed heavily as he and Sam Watt challenged for a free-kick.
He was treated for 12 minutes on the pitch and then by paramedics, who arrived within 30 minutes of the injury occurring.
Suffering concussion, he was taken to West Suffolk Hospital, but released on Saturday evening.
Striker Dan Newlove took over in goal with the defence protecting him, but he did well when called upon as Dereham inevitably tried to test him.
Cornard had already lost Dan Sakal after nine minutes with a leg injury, but the first-half reshuffles did not prove too troublesome.
They passed the ball around well, always probing for openings.
Dereham proved equally skilful and in the end the match was decided by the visitors’ little more sharpness where it mattered.
Cornard took the lead after six minutes, a corner from Steve Willis being cleared to the edge of the box where Stuart Bryant drove home a low shot.
Newlove’s first touch as keeper saw him make a good save from Nick Hook and Matt Powley turned a fierce free-kick from Charlie Knight over the bar as Cornard tried to extend their advantage.
But Dereham equalised after 38 minutes. Hook played a free-kick short when Cornard were expecting a shot and the unmarked Sam Pledger fired home from an acute angle.
Just one minute into the second half, Dereham were ahead when James Laird handled in the box, Hook converting the penalty.
But Cornard hit back two minutes later. Willis drove in a corner hard and low, and Laird made amends by turning the ball home.
Newlove bravely blocked at Hook’s feet, Powley made a full-length save to deny Knight, and Powley recovered after a miskick, just beating a limping Willis to the ball when a goal looked certain.
Then, five minutes from the end, substitute Liam Upton cut in and created space on the edge of the box, beating Newlove with a powerful low shot. It was hard on the keeper and hard on Cornard.
Cornard: Jeffries (Davis 23), Dix, Sheffield, Laird, Bryant, Willis, Chesney, Sakal (Tolhurst 9), Newlove, Knight, Chester. Subs not used: New, Beckett, Pilcher.