MATCH REPORT: Inspired March Town United end Thetford Town’s rampant run
Ridgeons First Division: March Town United 2 Thetford Town 0
BRETT Whaley’s revolution reached new heights at the GER today as March Town United announced themselves as promotion challengers by ending Thetford Town’s 100 per cent league record.
The Hares summoned one of their most hard-working performances of the season to see off the table-toppers, who had won all 11 of their Ridgeons First Division matches before today’s 2-0 defeat.
Winger Ash Brand provided the spark for March, tapping in to give them a first-half lead before setting up Ondre Odain for a quickfire second after the break.
And although they worked hard, the visitors failed to carve out any clear-cut chances, leaving the Hares to celebrate their fourth consecutive victory in front of 68 fans.
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Thetford have plundered 41 goals already in this season’s campaign, but it was the high-flying Hares who began the game in the more impressive fashion.
Their confidence was typified by Stu Anderson, who sent a rasping early shot over the bar after latching onto Odain’s flick.
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Thetford’s Matt Howard saw his gentle prod at goal saved by Aaron Butcher before Luke Pepper nodded a Gavin Cooke corner into the arms of the visitors’ ‘keeper Ian Fancett.
The game sparked into life after 17 minutes when Ash Brand gave March the lead from another Cooke corner.
The tricky winger found himself in the right place to meet Anderson’s clever header and he slotted the ball home for what was only the 10th goal conceded by Thetford this season.
The visitors were clearly rattled. Howard and Sean O’Donnell both tried their luck but Thetford were unable to get behind a disciplined and determined March back-four.
Centre-backs Chris Lenton and Adam Sutton sniffed out any danger rapidly and midfielders Kyle Nolan and Dan Jenkins put in tenacious displays to shield their defensive team-mates.
Thetford suffered a further blow when a crunching challenge from Hares’ left-back Marc Welcher saw Bruno Tavares stretchered off after 30 minutes. And Welcher incensed the visitors again minutes later as a mistimed lunge resulted in a booking.
The league leaders finished the half brightly with winger Volta Rocha causing problems for full-back Cooke but the Hares deserved to take their advantage to the break.
The highlight of the match came within seconds of the restart as Brand brought the GER crowd to their feet with a sublime piece of skill.
The Thetford defence looked like they had left their minds in the dressing room as Brand danced down the left-hand side, beating two players with a magical turn of pace before firing in his cross.
The delivery travelled all the way to the far post where Odain was waiting to lash it home and give the hosts their valuable cushion.
Again Thetford tried their best to respond. Substitute Steven Davies headed straight at Butcher and Rocha continued to look dangerous.
But March were in no mood to bow to the table-toppers as Anderson stung Fancett’s palms with a speculative effort.
Brand began to enjoy more time and space as the visitors pushed forward, and another weaving run resulted in an unsuccessful penalty appeal.
Thetford had their best chance of the game with 10 minutes remaining as Matt Blake rounded Butcher. But the striker was clattered by a fantastic last-ditch challenge from Sutton just as he was about to roll the ball into the vacant net.
The tackle left Sutton injured but embodied a committed, passionate and energetic display from March.
Rival strikers Anderson and Blake missed chances at either end as the game became stretched in the closing stages.
But the lead of a dogged and valiant March never looked in serious danger and, as the final whistle sounded, the Hares celebrated a memorable victory.
The win puts March two points behind leaders Thetford in third, but, more importantly, it signals to the rest of the league that Whaley’s troops might just be genuine contenders for promotion.
The Hares next game is on Boxing Day, when they will host Downham Town.