Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Cricket Field Road, Newmarket
Match Rating: 3
Following the midday game at Haverhill Borough, I made the 14 mile, 25 minute drive northwards, zigzagging along the Suffolk/Cambridgeshire border, to watch a game a step up, this one in the Premier Division of the Eastern Counties League.
Cricket Field Road is located just to the south of Newmarket town centre, and less than ten minutes walk from the town's train station. A 3G pitch has been newly laid at the ground, but happily there was much more of a feel of this being a proper football ground than there was at Haverhill Borough earlier. There has been a lot of work done here around the ground as well as the laying of the plastic pitch, with the result that this is a neat ground with some interesting features. Spectators enter in one corner of the ground, and after paying admission at a caravan/trailer hut, walk down a slight slope to reach pitchside behind a goal, and next to the former, more traditional, turnstile hut where the entrance to the ground used to be. All of the facilities are along the length furthest from the entrance. Straddling the half way line is a relatively tall and narrow all-seater stand, whilst to one side is the brick clubhouse building, with a refreshments window on the outside and a fairly spacious but rather dated bar inside. Beyond the clubhouse and reaching the corner flag is a covered standing area designated for smokers. Tall trees line one end of the ground, Newmarket racecourse is visible behind the other, whilst along the remaining length, there is a grass bank with recently installed wooden fencing along the top. The club really seemed to embrace the groundhopper day here, with a really welcoming feeling for all attending, and a nice touch was their offer of half-time hospitality for the groundhopper who had travelled the furthest. That person, from North Wales, declined the offer, instead a hopper from Bournemouth took up the offer. Further evidence of how positive football can be at this level came when the Great Yarmouth Town players donated their match expenses, with a further contribution from the club, to the fund of a player who was due to sign for Newmarket in pre-season before being having his legs amputated following a car accident, along with a friend, also a footballer and who suffered a serious leg injury. The 36 page programme was well presented with plenty of interesting and informative information inside.
This would be a match between two teams who have made good starts to their league season. Newmarket Town came into this game in third place, with eight wins and three draws from their 14 league games, whilst Great Yarmouth Town, promoted from Division One in third place, were in seventh place, with seven wins and two draws from their 12 league games.
With the sun now shining brightly on a surprisingly very mild late October afternoon, Newmarket had the better of the first half, certainly in terms of possession, and they created some presentable chances, whilst the visitors did occasionally look threatening on the counter. But Great Yarmouth would surely have been the happier to reach the half-time break with the scoreline level.
The second half would be a completely different affair though, no doubt helped by the visitors taking the lead three minutes after the break. A couple of quick passed in and around the box ended with Mitch Forbes firing a low shot across the keeper and into the net. The visitors really seized the initiative, and doubled their lead four minutes later, Charlie Bartram drilling a shot from towards the edge of the area into the top left hand corner. That really killed the game as a contest, and Great Yarmouth controlled the rest of the game, as Newmarket looked more and more impotent as the game continued to its conclusion. Indeed, Great Yarmouth looked the more likely to score next, but they will be be very pleased with a very comfortable away win, and with how how they soaked up pressure in the first half, before going for the kill and controlling the game after the break.