The lockdown has been kind to the Bloaters with many of the squad returning after injury. Howell , Barnes, George and Smith returned to the side to join recent new recruits Kyle Baker, Aaron Attree and Connor Delaney. However the injury list was still active with Ager, Forbes, Belsten and Jordan Attree all unavailable for this game, against a side that have only lost once all season to a strong Lakenheath side. March Town were missing a few familiar faces themselves and came to the game knowing a win would see them climb to the top of the table. This was the return of the first fixture of the season where a late penalty by the hosts saw them grab all three points in a competitive encounter.
The game began with the visitors showing some early intent as they took the game to the Bloaters in an early spell of possession. After a barrage of corners Warren fired over from twenty yards and Gillies had the ball in the net, but was ruled out for offside in the seventh minute. The home side were frustrated by the well-drilled offside trap and were guilty of getting caught offside more than they should, as their swift attacks were brought to an untimely end by the assistant’s flag. In the fourteenth minute a claim for a penalty was ignored by referee Amsiejus and George launched the ball into the visitors’ half. Sensing an opportunity, Kyle Baker pressurised the defender into heading the ball straight up in the air and with one deft touch had taken the ball behind the visitors defence and then cut inside before firing an unstoppable shot past Congreve to give the hosts the lead with a well-taken finish on his home debut. The home side could have doubled their lead moments later when Baker’s shot was deflected over for a corner. A couple of minutes later they did double the lead. McCombe’s corner was returned to the youngster and his deep cross was misjudged by Congreve and found the head of Cameron Barnes who headed home from close range, although he didn’t appear to know much about it, as the hosts took a two goal lead after eighteen minutes against their high-flying opponents.
The lead was reduced in the twenty sixth minute as first Putnins made a great save from a free-kick and then Howell blocked the ball on the line but Short was on hand to bundle the ball home from close-range to give the visitors a much-needed boost. A couple of over-zealous challenges from the visitors earned yellow cards and a nasty injury to full-back Atkins who had to leave the pitch, to be replaced by Josh Ford. Urry reverted to right back and Ford took his place alongside Howell at centre back. Gillies fired in a shot that Putnins saved well as the visitors looked to get on level terms just before half-time, but the scoreline remained.
HT Great Yarmouth Town 2 March Town United 1
The visitors had the first chance of the second half as the lively Warren sent in a dangerous cross that missed everyone in the penalty area. The visitors desperate for the three points were relying on a high line to keep the hosts at bay to some good effect. That was until Attree and McCombe foiled a Hares attack and young McCombe side -stepped a couple of challenges before sliding in an excellent ball behind the defensive line, into Jamie Smith who kept his composure to stay onside and fire a shot past Congreve to put the home side 3-1 up on fifty one minutes.
Connor Delaney came on for his debut to replace Attree and showed a couple of neat touches to regain possession for the Bloaters. The visitors responded by sending on a couple of substitutes notably striker Jack Friend who always seems to score against the Bloaters, although looking at his goalscoring record it looks he seems to score against everyone. The visitors were now looking menacing with three strikers on the pitch ably supplied by the impressive McQuaid and Gibson. The visitors were now in the ascendency, but the back four of Urry, McAvoy, Howell and Ford stood up well to the challenge. When the visitors did find space for an attempt on goal they found home keeper Putnins in fine form. With the visitors committing numbers forwards it left the inevitable spaces in defence and good play by Delany sent Smith through on goal and he thought he had extended the lead when he broke through, but his shot past Congreve drifted narrowly past the post to deny the big striker a fourth for the Bloaters. Dan Pinheiro came onto replace Barnes who had put in a good shift for his side. Putnins made a terrific save from Friend and a flurry of corners were repelled by a determined home defence. Smith then had another chance to score as the hosts counter-attacked again, but once again the ball went agonisingly past the upright.
With the clock ticking down Putnins pulled off two fine saves as the visitors piled forwards. However this was the Bloaters day as they managed the game out to a conclusion to avenge the 2-1 defeat in Cambridgeshire on the opening fixture of the season, and put a sizeable dent in the Hares’ promotion challenge. In this topsy-turvy season there are lots of games left and there are several good teams challenging at the top of the division, all of whom will be thinking they are in with a good shout for promotion.
It was only two games ago the Bloaters suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat at Downham, but with players back from injury and new signings coming in, this looks like a turning point in the Bloaters’ season and hopefully a return to their early-season form.
A delighted Bloaters manager Rob McCombe concluded “Really pleased with the lads today both on and off the ball. Their attitude and application was spot on, and executed the game plan perfectly. Our response in the last two games has been fantastic and shows the group what they are capable of.”
Bloaters : Putnins, Atkins(Ford) , George, Howell, Urry, Barnes (Pinheiro)Attree A(Delaney), McCombe, Baker, McAvoy, Smith. Sub (unused) McAra
FT Great Yarmouth Town 3 March Town United 1