Ely City sealed their promotion back to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division at the first time of asking with victory on Saturday, while champions AFC Sudbury, who received the trophy in front of a bumper crowd, Bury Town and Soham Town Rangers all missed out on recording a last win of the campaign.
Ely City confirmed their promotion after a 2-1 win at Leiston Reserves with goals from Craig Neal and Alex Theobald scored in what was their 12th successive win.
Brady Stone’s side have back-to-back home games to celebrate, starting with the visit of AFC Sudbury Reserves to the Unwin Ground on Wednesday (7.45pm).
Meanwhile, Halstead Town are still in the hunt for promotion in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division after their seventh win on the bounce at the weekend, a 1-0 victory at home to King’s Lynn Town Reserves.
Marcus Warren, who later picked up the Supporters’ Player of The Year award, as well as the Manager’s Player of The Year at the Humbugs’ end of season awards night, kept his cool from the penalty spot in the fourth versus fifth clash that saw Halstead leapfrog Great Yarmouth Town into the third automatic promotion spot.
But with Yarmouth having two games in hand, Mark Benterman’s side know going up is reliant on the Bloaters slipping up combined with them winning their last game of the campaign, at promoted Ely on Saturday.
Second-from-bottom Team Bury won 1-0 at Diss Town, while there were defeats for Cornard United (3-0 at Debenham LC) and Needham Market Reserves.
Elsewhere in the division an Ace Howell hat-trick saw Stowmarket Town to a 4-0 home win over March Town United and Haverhill Borough were also big winners, 5-0 at home to Downham Town (Wescott, Geoghegan, Milne, Pruden, Thomas).
In the Premier Division, Walsham-le-Willows won 2-0 at Brantham Athletic thanks to goals from Tanner Call and Andrew Wood.
Ahead of their Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup final against Premier Division champions Norwich United at Diss Town on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm), Mildenhall Town lost 1-0 at home to Felixstowe & Walton United, while there were also defeats for Long Melford, Haverhill Rovers and relegation-threatend Thetford Town, who are only out of the bottom three on goal difference after their 3-1 defeat at Saffron Walden Town with two games to play, starting with a trip to FC Clacton tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26).
On Friday night Hadleigh united, who travel to Haverhill Rovers in a rearranged fixture tonight (Monday, April 25, 7.45pm), won a five-goal thriller at home to Newmarket Town with goals from David Lorimer, Ollie Snaith and Danny Thrower, while AFC Sudbury Reserves won 1-0 at Dereham Town.
In the Ryman League, Division One North champions AFC Sudbury could not end their stellar campaign at the Wardale Williams Stadium with a last win, losing 1-0 courtesy of a stoppage time winner from former player Piers Wixon to runners-up Harlow Town.
But Jamie Godbold’s players took consolation by lifting the trophy in front of a bumper crowd of 673 in what was Ollie Berquez’s last game before hanging up his boots.
The game was also notable for the return off the pitch of hospitality man and Suffolk Free Press correspondent Pat Arbon, following a stroke.
Bury Town ended their campaign in 13th place, having seen their promising first-half of the season as they looked to bounce straight up quickly unravel itself, after a 1-1 home draw at Ram Meadow with AFC Hornchurch. Ollie Hughes equalised in the 63rd minute after Ricky Freeman’s first-half opener.
Soham Town Rangers finished 17th and eight points above the drop zone, going out on a 4-1 home defeat to Tilbury, with Salim Relizani’s last minute strike providing some degree of cheer.
Needham Market’s 2-1 home win (Luke Ingram 2, Att 502) over Dulwich Hamlet saw Mark Morseley’s side end their first campaign in the Ryman League Premier Division in 20th position, one point and one place above the relegation zone.
In the Barclay’s Premier League Norwich City did not play but fell back into the relegation places after Sunderland’s 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal on Sunday, which was their game in hand. It leaves the Canaries trailing the Mackems on goal difference with four games to play, starting with Saturday’s late game at Arsenal (5.30pm).
In the Sky Bet Championship Ipswich Town held title-chasing Middlesbrough to a 0-0 draw in the North East, but saw their mathematical chances of a play-off spot end with two fixtures still remaining in a game dominated by the Teesiders.
*Read our fans’ views on both Ipswich Town and Norwich City in our print editions later this week, while extended highlights of Ipswich Town’s Saturday game can be viewed via a payment subscriber service on the club’s official website
RESULTS AND FIXTURES:
Premier Division: Needham Market 2, Dulwich Hamley 1.
Division North: AFC Sudbury 0, Harlow Town 1; Bury Town 1, AFC Hornchurch 1; Soham Town Rangers 1, Tilbury 4.
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Premier Division: Hadleigh Utd 3, Newmarket Town (Friday) 2; Brantham Athletic 0, Walsham le Willows 2; Fakenham Town 2, Haverhill Rovers 0; Mildenhall Town 0, Felixstowe & Walton Utd 1; Norwich Utd 3, Long Melford 1; Saffron Walden Town 3, Thetford Town 1.
First Division: Braintree Town 2, Debenham LC (Thursday) 3; Dereham Town 0, AFC Sudbury Res (Friday) 1; Braintree Town 2, Needham Market Res 0; Debenham LC 3, Cornard Utd 0; Diss Town 0, Team Bury 1; Halstead Town 1, King’s Lynn Town 0; Haverhill Borough 5, Downham Town 0; Leiston 1, Ely City 2; Stowmarket Town 4, March Town Utd 0.
THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Monday. Haverhill Rovers v Hadleigh Utd; Newmarket Town v Swaffham Town (at Bury Town FC). Tuesday. FC Clacton v Thetford Town.Wednesday. Ipswich Wanderers v Hadleigh Utd; Long Melford v Haverhill Rovers.
Monday. Wivenhoe Town v Debenham LC.
Tuesday. Haverhill Borough v Stowmarket Town; Needham Market Res v Team Bury.
Wednesday. Ely City v AFC Sudbury.
Thursday. Haverhill Borough v Debenham LC; Stowmarket Town v Team Bury.