Saturday's local football round-up: Mildenhall and Soham Town Rangers share the spoils in cross-border derby as Hadleigh United hit seventh heaven
Soham Town Rangers' wait for a first ever derby win over Mildenhall Town at Step 4 goes on following a 1-1 draw at their cross-border rivals' Recreation Way base in front of a healthy crowd of 309.
But while it continued a decent run for Robbie Mason's Greens (15th) - having only lost one of their last six Bostik League North Division matches, including four victories - the point, coupled with Dereham Town's surprise 4-0 win at Basildon, keeps Mildenhall only out of the relegation zone on a minor goal difference (one better). Soham remain seven points clear.
Mildenhall, who included the returning Matt Hayden up front and re-signed Cambridge United loanee Lee Watkins on the bench, fell behind in the 22nd minute to Sam Mulready's strike, before an Abouhadje Kouassi penalty five minutes before the interval restored parity.
Neither side could go on to find a winning goal in the second half, despite hosts Mildenhall being reduced to 10 men when Panayiotis Boxer was sent off for the second time this season, ironically having also been dismissed in the reverse derby fixture in September, for two quick yellow cards.
Elsewhere in the division the icy weather put paid to AFC Sudbury's game at Brentwood Town, and Bury Town will have wished their fixture at title-chasing Maldon & Tiptree had not gone ahead, having lost 3-0 to put a dent in their play-off challenge.
The Blues were still in the game at the break, trailing 1-0 to Matthew Briggs' 35th minute strike.
But Jorome Slew doubled the Essex side's advantage just before the hour mark and former Bury player Billy Roast put the outcome of match beyond any doubt with a third inside the final 10 minutes.
Ben Chenery's side remain a place outside the top four, but with Coggeshall Town ending their poor run with a 1-0 victory at Grays Athletic, they have gone seven points behind the fifth-placed side having also played a game more. The Blues will look to reduce the gap when they host Witham Town on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Up in a division in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central, Needham Market twice came from behind at leaders Kettering Town before agonizingly coming away with nothing after a last-gasp winner gave the hosts a 3-2 victory.
Utility man Joe Marsden took his tally for the season to 13 goals since his summer move from Leiston with both of the Marketmen's goals, the second from the penalty spot.
Dan Holman had missed a penalty for the Poppies inside the opening 20 minutes before they took the lead via Aaron O’Connor's tap-in, only for Marsden to level things up with a curling effort on the stroke of half-time.
Needham came under heavy pressure in the second period which eventually told in the 72nd minute as O’Connor fired in his second.
Marsden's penalty soon after looked to have rescued the Suffolk visitors a point, but the Poppies scored a third in injury-time through Lindon Meikle to stretch their lead at the top to five points.
With the icy weather having forced some of their play-off challengers to have a weekend off, the result leaves Needham a place and two points off the top five, but having played two more matches than 5th place Avelchurch and 6th place Biggleswade Town.
Hadleigh United recorded the result of the day in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, with a 7-2 victory at basement side Framlingham Town in what was manager Christian Appleford's first game in charge.
It saw Hadleigh increase the gap to the relegation zone from two to four points and move up two places to 16th.
The half-time scoreline, which saw Appleford's visitors lead 1-0 via Kieron Andrews' strike, gave no indication of the one-sided goal-fest to follow.
But Tom Driscoll's 50th minute goal opened the floodgates as 21 minutes later Hadleigh were 6-0 up. Dricsoll completed a 17th minute hat-trick with a penalty with Kieron Turner scoring in-between.
Anthony Johnson pulled two back but a second for Turner in the middle of those made it 7-2, leaving Framlingham licking their wounds and now 12 points from safety (from 11) and 10 to Great Yarmouth Town in the place above them, who have played a game less.
Long Melford's 2-1 defeat at Gorleston leaves them now just three points and two places above the relegation zone. It was a difficult result for Melford to take though as it looked like Jacob Brown's 61st minute equaliser had been enough to get them a point, before a 91st minute winner from Joel Watts made it back-to-back defeats for Jamie Bradbury's side.
Thetford Town's 3-1 home win over Norwich United looks to have put them out of the equation for the bottom two though with the gap increased by two to seven points, having moved up a further place to 14th.
Norwich had taken a 37th minute lead before Robbie Priddle soon levelled things up before second-half strikes from Elliot Gibson and Priddle proved no less than the Brecklanders deserved, with the scoreline only kept down by a strong goalkeeping performance.
Haverhill Rovers, Ely City and Stowmarket Town, the latter two who were drew to face off in Cambridgeshire, all saw their games fall victim to the weather.
Halstead Town kept up the pressure in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South title race with a 3-1 victory at Little Oakley keeping them second in the table, still three points behind leaders Hashtag United with a game in hand.
The Humbugs led 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Chris Harris and Callum Vincent, the latter from the penalty spot. A third followed from top scorer Jordan Pavett before a late consolation for the hosts.
In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, it was a good day for the academy sides as AFC Sudbury Reserves (9th) enjoyed a fine 5-1 home win over King's Lynn Town Reserves, while basement side Needham Market Reserves got a late winner at home to Diss Town (14th) to inflict a first league defeat on recently-appointed Tangerines manager Jon Abbott.
But league leaders Harleston Town did not enjoy their return to action as, with former Debenham manager Leon Moore in his first game in the dugout as head coach, they went down to a 4-1 defeat at fourth-placed Norwich CBS to see their lead remaining at a single point, having now used their game in hand on Mulbarton Wanderers.
Lakenheath (7th) ended Great Cornard's five-game unbeaten run with a 2-1 win on their travels to Blackhouse Lane while Guy Hayes' Debenham LC lost 4-0 at Fakenham Town.
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More by this authorRussell Claydon