Adam Gusterson loses his final game in charge of Thurlow Nunn League First Division North leaders Harleston Town
In what proved to be Adam Gusterson’s last game in charge, Harleston Town saw their lead at the top of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North cut from 10 points to seven with a 2-1 home loss to Lakenheath.
There was no hint of Gusterson’s imminent departure to previous club Dereham Town as he accepted, following the final whistle on Saturday, Heath had ‘done a job on us’.
Lakenheath, who denied the Magpies victory in a 1-1 draw in December, deserved more than a goalless scoreline at the interval, but Ryan Weaver and Jame McCabe punished them on the break in the second half before substitute Nicky Howell’s goal nine minutes into added time proved to be all too little too late.
“We weren’t very good at all today, to be honest, and didn’t really do enough to deserve to win,” admitted Gusterson, with the Magpies having a mini break now before travelling to Leiston Reserves on January 19 (3pm).
“It was one of those games where I think it was always going to be whoever got the first goal was always going to probably go on to have a good chance of winning the game and obviously they got it early in the second half.
“We huffed and puffed and we didn’t give up; we kept trying and we tried to change things, but it didn’t really happen for us today.
“I think to be fair to them they came and did a job on us. They set up to get a goal on the break and then did and it was always going to be difficult for us to get back into it after that. Sometimes it happens and we have just got to go again now.”
Eighth-place Lakenheath signalled their intentions in a bright start which saw Magpies ‘keeper Brandon Ling produce an arching save to tip over Kelvin Enaro’s early effort.
There was controversy in the 22nd minute as Lawrence Cheese chased down a Mark Shadrack throughball before rounding the goalkeeper and rolling into the empty net, only to see it ruled out for handball.
Gusterson later branded it a ‘ridiculous decision’ but did say it was not the reason why his side went on to lose the game.
At the other end, Ling did well to fist away a dangerous ball into his box under pressure and Harleston were let off the hook when visiting skipper Sam Hawley sliced a free volley from a corner.
The hosts’ best chance of the half saw Scott Roberts send a 25-yard effort not far over, while Ross Elkins was on hand to deny Sam Borrer running clear in the penalty box.
Lakenheath got the goal their tigerish chasing and inventive play had deserved nine minutes after the restart when Weaver superbly brought down a Tom Hardwick ball on the half turn and went on to cooly finish into the bottom right corner.
Harleston did dominate in their opponents’ half from then on but lacked a final ball or clinical touch, with Cheese ballooning the first of several attempts to sum up his day.
Connor Green hit the crossbar on the hour mark, but the visitors broke from a corner to score four minutes later with an uncleared Reece Clarke cross fired in by McCabe.
Harleston were fortunate McCabe put his next chance – as the game entered the last 10 minutes of the standard 90 – over the crossbar.
Ling pushed out an effort from Clarke as the game entered what seemed an inordinate amount of additional time, but it did allow the home fans braving the cold to at least see their side score. Shortly after, Kelvin Enaro went clean through only to somehow hit the post. Up the other end, Howell met a left-wing cross to head in with nine extra minutes played. The final whistle went almost straight from the restart.
Harleston: Ling, Anema, Green, Roe, Howard (c), Shadrack, Russell (Stevens 69’), Borrer, Cheese, Roberts (Delaney 78’), Stone (Howell 78’). Unused subs: Baker, Gusterson, Willis.
Express Man of the Match: Brandon Ling. Teenage goalkeeper helped to keep his side in the game.