Saturday's local football round-up: Bury Town go five points clear as Stowmarket extend lead to 13 and good wins for AFC Sudbury, Debenham LC, Newmarket Town, Thetford Town and Cornard United
Ben Chenery had said his league-leading Bury Town side would not have it easy against bottom side Romford at Ram Meadow, and he was right.
Despite winning 3-1 to go five points clear at the summit of the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division, with their nearest rivals in cup action this afternoon, they were certainly involved in a game.
The hosts were relentless in the first half and deservedly opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Joe White, back from injury, stabbed home at the near post following a corner being flicked on.
Within five minutes it was 2-0 as Jake Chambers-Shaw drilled low across the goalkeeper.
Bury had a handball appeal turned down and hit the post and bar thereafter but Romford got to half-time 2-0 down having not put away several guilt-edged chances of their own.
The visitors started the second period well and pulled one back in the 57th minute when Inesh Sumithran steering an unchallenged header from a deep cross home.
The next goal was all-important but it was Bury who eventually got it in the 79th minute when substitute Max Maughn fired in an unstoppable effort across the goalkeeper from Ryan Jolland's pass across the box.
It was the 18-year-old former Colchester United Academy player's first goal for the club, in his 15th appearance.
It leaves Bury five points clear of Maldon & Tiptree having played four games more now.
Soham Town Rangers drew their Cambridgeshire derby in the Buildbase FA Trophy first round qualifying stage at higher-league St Ives Town 0-0 to ensure they will be in Monday's draw at Wembley.
Despite being the underdog away from home this afternoon, they were somewhat unfortunate not to progress through in the 90 minutes, having hit the post in both halves, as well as the crossbar, having a goal disallowed and a penalty turned down in the second half.
They will get another chance to knock out their higher-league county neighbours when they host the replay at Julius Martin Lane on Tuesday (7.45pm).
AFC Sudbury, whose manager Mark Morsley fired his entire coaching staff in reaction to a poor start to the season after their home defeat to Soham last Saturday, had one of the results of the day when knocking higher-league Harrow Borough out of the FA Trophy with a 2-0 scoreline at The MEL Group Stadium.
It was the first game in the dugout for academy duo Danny Laws and Dave Cannon after Morsley named them as the replacements for coaches Lee Norfolk and Paul Skingley, with the move having the desired immediate impact.
After a goalless first half, Billy Holland fired the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division side into the lead in the 47th minute, and experienced striker Sean Marks struck in the 68th minute to strengthen their grip on the tie which was not relinquished.
In the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, leaders Stowmarket Town, having drawn 1-1 at home to Swaffham Town last Saturday, extended their lead from 11 points to 13 with a 3-0 away day success at Kirkley & Pakefiled.
Centre-back Joe Jefford headed the Old Gold & Blacks into the lead before Josh Mayhew put Matt Blake in to make it 2-0 by half-time.
A good throughball from youngster George Quantrill put Blake it for his second and his third, via a lobbed effort, to finish the scoring late on.
Long Melford stretched their winning league run to five games with a 1-0 victory at Gorleston moving Jamie Bradbury's side up two places in the table to eighth. What proved to be their match-winning goal came early in the first half from Will Wingfield.
It was another defeat for Hadleigh United though, their third in all competitions and second consecutive in the league, 3-2 at home to Thetford Town to leave Christian Appleford just one point off the foot of the table.
But for player-manager Matt Morton's Thetford it meant back-to-back league wins to move them up a place to 16th.
Tanner Call headed home in the 89th minute to secure all three points for the visitors having put them level at 2-2 in the 65th minute.
Newmarket Town had a good 2-1 home win over fourth place Norwich United to hit the top six with goals from Joe Robinson and Ross Paterson.
Walsham-le-Willows (19th) recorded a 1-1 draw at home to Mildenhall Town (12th) to keep them unbeaten under new manager Fergus O'Callaghan.
Ryan Clark had put the hosts into the lead before they saw a penalty saved and Mildenhall eventually saw their own pressure pay off with the equaliser.
On Friday night, Needham Market negotiated their way past lower-league hosts Cambridge City with three second-half goals for a 3-0 scoreline at Histon FC in the Buildbase FA Trophy first round qualifying.
It was the BetVictor Isthmian League North Division hosts who dominated the first half though with Needham thankful to former AFC Sudbury player Sam Bantick sending a 10th minute penalty against the post, following James Baker being penalised for handball.
But three minutes after the second-half started Joe Marsden poked the visitors into the lead from the edge of the six-yard box.
Needham were in full control from there with Marsden smashing against the left-hand post before Joe Neal doubled their advantage by guiding in a Jake Dye cross in the 67th minute to cap a fine move.
Captain Gareth Heath eventually got the goal he deserved, having also hit the post and had a shot saved, 20 minutes from time with a wonder strike from 25 yards.
It means Needham have now won their last three matches and will be in Monday lunchtime's second round qualifying draw at Wembley.
Also on Friday, Ely City won the battle of the two most out-of-form teams in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, winning 3-2 at Haverhill Rovers to extend recently-appointed manager James Bloomfield's wait for a league win (now standing at three matches).
Ely, however, stopped they run of Premier Dvision defeats – standing at four matches, and in doing so bounced back from their 5-1 home defeat to Kirkley & Pakefield last Saturday.
Back to this afternoon and in the Thurlow Nunn League First Dvision South Halstead Town saw their run of defeats at home continue when losing 3-2 against Benfleet.
The result saw the side, who finished third last season and began the campaign with hopes of mounting a title challenge, drop down fifth to eighth place.
In the First Division North, Debenham LC moved up to fourth in the table after a good 3-0 win at Ipswich Wanderers.
Andrew Crowe, Baden Holmes and Luke Taylor were all on target for Guy Hayes' side over at Humberdoucy Lane. It was the Hornets' third straight league win and saw them record back-to-back clean sheets.
Haverhill Borough's run of defeats continued as they lost 2-1 at Felixstowe & Walton United Reserves to drop them a place to second bottom of the table.
There were also defeats for Framlingham Town (17th)- 4-1 at home to Norwich CBS - Diss Town (7th)- 4-3 at March Town United - and Lakenheath (3rd)- 3-1 at home to second placed Mulbarton Wanderers.
But there was a good win for Cornard United over at Sheringham with a 4-2 victory seeing Dave Child's side put up their third straight league win to end the afternoon in 13th place.
Finally, Needham Market Reserves were only able to take a point from their home game with bottom-of-the-table Wisbech St Mary, sharing four goals.
* Vote for your Iliffe Media East Team of The Weekend from the above on Twitter via @russclaydon's poll on Monday, and see next week's paper for reaction and previews to the week ahead.