THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Thetford Town 5
Hadleigh United 2
‘No fight, no bite and no character’ — those were the seven words Stuart Alston chose to describe Hadleigh’s performance at Thetford on Saturday.
And what is a particular cause of concern for The Brettsiders boss is they are three basic characteristics required in a fight for survival.
The hefty defeat — Hadleigh’s 20th of the campaign — has left them just three points clear of third-from-bottom Wivenhoe Town, who have two games in hand.
The Suffolk side have been a Premier Division club since 2009 and were crowned champions three years ago. But with their destiny no longer in their own hands, relegation is now a genuine possibility.
As far as Alston is concerned, it is time his troops wrestled back control of the situation.
“We let Thetford play. They are a good side and if you let good sides play they will kill you,” he said after the hammering at Mundford Road, where his side trailed 4-0 at the break.
“There was no fight, no bite and no character. It took until 65 minutes for us to roll our sleeves up and show a bit of pride.
“If I look at those players today, as soon as they crossed the line, did they want to win the game? I am not sure.
“But it is gone and forgotten about now — time to move on.
“Seven points is the target. We do not want to be relying on other sides to slip up. We need to be ensuring safety ourselves.”
In Hadleigh’s defence, their trip to fifth-placed Thetford was always going to be tough, but the unavailability of leading goalscorer Kyle Cassell, as well as captain Gary Burdett and centre-back Ben Elliott, made matters all the more daunting.
Yet, even with a full compliment of players, the visitors would have found it tough to contain Thetford’s talisman Cameron King.
It was as if the former Norwich City attacking midfielder had a baton on his hand and was controlling the orchestra, such was his influence on proceedings.
King helped himself to a first-half hat-trick — and could have added to his tally after the restart — while Ben Anderson also struck before the break.
Ryan Fuller added a fifth goal for the hosts from the penalty spot in the 50th minute, after Michael Barwick had hauled down Liam Wales inside the box as Thetford threatened to run riot.
But instead it was Alston’s men that salvaged some pride, with substitutes Lee Hammond andAaron Bull — the latter who has only recently turned 17, converting a penalty — reducing the arrears in the final nine minutes.
Hadleigh: Mansfield, Gaffer (Hammond 46), Ross, Barwick, Benee, Artiss, Lambert, Driscoll, Gilvray, Crisp, Veitch (Bull 46)
n Hadleigh do not return to action until Saturday, April 15, at home to fourth-placed Gorleston (3pm).