Thetford Town beaten 4-1 at title favourites Stowmarket
- Credit: Archant
It would take a brave person to bet against Stowmarket Town finishing the season as Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division champions.
The Suffolk side have invested heavily to build a squad equipped to play at a higher level and sitting eight points clear at the top of the table look a class above their rivals.
Thetford had brought to an end a sequence of 10 straight league defeats with a 3-2 midweek victory over Walsham-le-Willows, with Max Melanson scoring twice and Michael Campbell also on target.
They were comfortably beaten on Saturday but new player-manager Matt Morton will take comfort in the effort and determination shown by his side.
In just the second minute Stowmarket went in front, an unmarked Josh Mayhew netting with a simple close range header. It started a 20 minute period of domination for the home side as they controlled the tempo and carved out chance after chance. Thetford keeper Jamie Humphrey, still a teenager and a fine prospect, made numerous fine saves to keep the home side at bay.
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Midway through the half, Thetford started to edge into the game. Ross Bailey and Jonny Conroy both fired wide from distance before Elliot Smith's goal drew Town level. Bailey delivered a free-kick and the unmarked Smith slid in to finish from close range.
It was Town's best spell of the game. Soon after, Melanson broke clear in the inside right channel and his effort needed tipping over by home keeper Jamie Bradbrock.
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From then on, Stowmarket were dominant. More chances came and went before half-time before a second half of relentless pressure.
Soon after the restart, Jack Ainsley's low drive, after Town failed to clear, put the league leaders back in front.
Town were being forced to defend deep with Stowmarket probing. Former Thetford striker Matt Blake struck the post with a header but Thetford defended stoutly and stayed in the game. However, with both first choice strikers - Robbie Priddle and Campbell - missing the Brecklanders offered little in attack.
A goal in the 90th minute, followed by another in injury time, both neatly worked, meant the scoreline more closely resembled the home side's dominance.
Thetford's next game is home to Norwich CBS in the Norfolk Senior Cup on Saturday (2.30pm).
Thetford Town: Humphrey, Bond, Morton, L Bailey, Cusack, Smith, R Bailey, Melanson, Sandell, Conroy (Rich), Eastwood (Hunt). Attendance: 363.