Derby of two contrasting halves goes the way of league-leading Mildenhall

MIDFIELD BATTLE: Mildenhalls Stephen Spriggs (left) and Newmarkets Scott Paterson vie for possession
MIDFIELD BATTLE: Mildenhalls Stephen Spriggs (left) and Newmarkets Scott Paterson vie for possession
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THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE

PREMIER DIVISION

Newmarket Town 1

Mildenhall Town 3

Rarely will the old cliché ‘a game of two halves’ been more of a fitting description than at The Ridgeons Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Hosting Newmarket were well worth their 1-0 half-time lead — courtesy of Lewis Whitehead’s 27th-minute strike — and they could have been a goal or two further in the ascendancy.

But it was a revitalised Mildenhall that took to the 3G pitch after the restart, culminating in them scoring three goals to take the spoils back down the A11.

“They were much the better team first half, no doubt about that. They outplayed us and created two or three good chances,” conceded triumphant boss Dean Greygoose, who saw his table toppers lose for the first time in the league at the weekend, to Felixstowe.

“I think it was a little bit of a hangover from Saturday. Confidence is everything at lower levels like this.

“But in the second half there was only one team in it. We battered them. It was great character from the boys.

“We weren’t keeping the ball well enough in the first half and we were going too direct at times. Second half we mixed it up perfectly.

“That is how we can play and I have told the boys that’s how we must start each game.”

Prior to his opener, Whitehead shot wide from the edge of the box in the ninth minute, before Newmarket winger Austen Diaper raced clear on goal.

However, composure seemed to desert the ex-Ely City man at the crucial moment as Mildenhall goalkeeper Josh Pope applied pressure.

Pope could do nothing to thwart Whitehead, though, as the attacker went on to notch his first league goal of the campaign.

For all of their intricate passing football during the opening exchanges, it was the direct approach that paid dividends for the Jockeys.

Goalkeeper Ben Nower’s long goal kick was flicked on by Steve Holder and on this occasion Whitehead made no mistake with a lob.

Visibly galvanised by whatever had been said in the dressing room during the interval, Mildenhall looked a different proposition.

After several good openings went begging, captain Luke Butcher restored parity by heading in Stephen Spriggs’ corner in the 65th minute.

Four minutes later Greygoose’s men were in front after Chris Bacon headed in Sam Parkinson’s cross via the upright, before the latter turned scorer nine minutes from time with a low shot that crept inside Ben Nower’s post.

Despite seeing his side surrender both the lead and the momentum to their rivals, Newmarket boss Kevin Grainger refused to be overly critical of his players.

“The first half is the best we have played all year. We quite embarrassed them at times,” he said.

“Mildenhall knocked it long and that worked for them. It is down to us to deal with it better.”

Newmarket: Nower, Dalby, Chivers, Bowen, Betson, Watson, Paterson (Wayne 78), Thurlbourne, Whitehead, Diaper (Snaith 70), Holder (Webster 82)

Mildenhall: Pope, Cooper, Butcher, Ruddy, Asensi, Parkinson, Green, Hilton, Spriggs (Munro 84), Clift (D Brown 62), Bacon

Journal Man of the Match: Mildenhall’s Joe Asensi . Attendance: 176

n Newmarket, who drew 1-1 with Gorleston last week, host Brantham on Saturday (3pm), before travelling to Saffron Walden on Tuesday (7.45pm).

Meanwhile, Mildenhall play host to Hadleigh on Saturday (3pm).

n In the Suffolk Premier Cup, Newmarket have drawn Ipswich Wanderers at home, with Mildenhall travelling to face Needham Market — ties to be played on October 18 or 19.