Hadleigh United clinch title on dramatic last day

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Latest sport news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A Duane Wright header three minutes from normal time ended up securing Hadleigh United’s first Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title and sparking wild celebrations at the Millfield.

The Brettsiders, roared on by 379 supporters, did things the hard way in a 2-1 win over mid-table outfit Mildenhall Town.

After storming out the blocks they took a 1-0 lead through veteran Shane Wardley’s close-range precise finish after just 11 minutes.

Josh Mayhew skipped past two defenders running towards goal along the byline before cutting the ball back for Wardley to steer home inside Josh Pope’s left-hand post.

Scott Chaplin was only denied doubling their lead by an excellent fingertip save by the Mildenhall custodian, with the visitors gradually growing into the game at the other end.

Dave Cooper curled round the post from a free-kick in a warning shot that they were not about to roll aside and watch the celebrations.

As nerves set in, it was the visitors who looked the brighter side in the second half but they faced an uphill task when Steve Holder handled in the Hadleigh box and recieved his marching orders for a second yellow card with 76 minutes on the clock.

But they scored a dramatic equaliser following two corners which had Hadleigh hearts in mouths as Michael Hervey hit a sweet volley past Fred Howe with just six minutes of normal time to play.

Brightlingsea Regent, who were ahead in their match, were on course to snatch the title until three minutes later when Wright stooped to head home Wardley’s right-wing cross.

The mdifielder, in his second spell at the club, pulled his shirt off and ran over to the crowd as wild celebrations broke out.

Hadleigh, who had lost Ollie Canfer to a facial injury after a challenge with Pope 22 minutes from time which left him on the floor concussed and requiring an ambulance, were able to hold on during seven minutes of injury-time.

* For a video of the celebrations check back on to this website over the weekend, and for all the reaction to Hadleigh’s title victory, see Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press.