Cromer FC make winning start to title defence

Beccles Town 2 Cromer Town 3

Cromer began their Anglian Combination Premier Division title defence with a trip across the border to face Beccles.

Resources were stretched and due to suspensions, weddings, cricket and work commitments Cromer were without eight players. They did however welcome new signings Jake McCabe and Sam Applegate and they went straight into the starting 11.

The hosts had the first chance in the third minute when the ball made its way into the path of Bensley.. He was through on goal but scuffed it wide.

The Crabs then had their first effort when some good play around the box resulted in the ball being laid to Ben Furlong whose first time shot went straight at Ellis. Then on the 15 minute mark Cromer won a free-kick on the edge of the box when Dave Matthews was fouled. Ben Furlong shot narrowly over the bar with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.

Shortly after the visitors took a deserved lead. After some patient build up the ball was played in behind the left back for Applegate who then pulled the ball back across goal, where it was flicked on by Antoni Fawkes and tapped home from close range by Liam Landamore.

Cromer continued to push forward looking to add to their lead. Simon Freemantle made a pacy run in from the left wing before firing straight at Ellis.

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On the half hour the away side grabbed a second. Fawkes got the ball at his feet and laid it into the run of Freemantle who then fired into the bottom left corner.

The home side did come close to nicking a goal back before the break when a shot took a big deflection of Shaun Cameron with Jackson stranded the other side of the goal, but the ball went the wrong side of the post as far as Beccles were concerned.

A well earned half time break came for both sides who were playing in very hot conditions. Following the breather Cromer came out and carried on in a similar vein.

Freemantle again looked dangerous on the left and once again showed good skill to cut inside and work himself space before seeing his shot strike the upright. Moments later it was 3-0. Furlong produced a superb delivery that was met by the head of Fawkes to put the Crabs into a comfortable position.

The hosts weren't going to allow the Crabs to have it easy for the remainder of the game though as in the 55th minute they pulled a goal back when some sloppy defending allowed the ball to drop in the six yard box and was toe poked home by David Shade.

Cromer did have a couple more chances to put the game out of sight. Matthews played the ball through to the run of Stuart Dunlop but the advancing left back scuffed his shot wide. Then, from the other full back position, Matthew Jordan found himself in the opposition box but he dragged his effort wide.

After this Cromer seemed to drop off slightly, a combination of perhaps a bit of complacency and obviously tiredness from playing in the scorching sun, and this allowed Beccles to pull another goal back. Once again some questionable defending resulted in Sam Roberts having a simple finish.

The comfortable position Cromer once had in the game was now long gone and the home side looked likely to get a third. Shaun Wigley was allowed a free run across the box to get on the end of a cross but he headed wide and Jackson was then called upon to keep out Damon Bensley shot.

With the hosts pushing forward Cromer attempted to exploit some gaps left at the back. Dunlop picked out Fawkes who headed over and some more trickery from Freemntle saw him work space for a cross that picked out Daniel Broom who fired high. Beccles had one final opportunity to take a point when Anthony Martin had a curling strike but Jackson easily saved it.

Despite the absentees Cromer played some superb football in the first 50 minutes but then took their foot of the pedal. But they still took the three points and will be aiming to build on a good start at home to St Andrews on Saturday.

Cromer: Jackson, M Jordan, McCabe (Dunlop), Cameron, S Jordan, Landamore, Applegate (Broom), Furlong, Matthews, Fawkes, Freemantle. Sub not used: Cullington.

Richard Cox