Late goals condemn Cromer FC to another defeat
Cromer Town 2 Loddon Utd 3
Following the disappointing display last week Cromer were looking to bounce back when they entertained Loddon United.
The Crabs were once again forced into making several changes but with the cricket season over both Paul Bradshaw and Sam Groves made their first league appearances of the season. Sam Applegate moved to the left wing and Matthew Eves into centre midfield due to the absences of Ben Furlong and Liam Landamore, while Dave Matthews returned to the Cromer attack following injury.
The first couple of chances of the day went to the hosts, the first coming on nine minutes when Matthews fired just wide from the edge of the box. Shortly afterwards a corner into the box dropped kindly to the feet of Antoni Fawkes who blasted over.
However it was the visitors who grabbed the lead around the half hour mark. A ball forward seemed harmless but Groves misjudged his header back to Andy Jackson and this allowed Chris Hall to nip in, round the keeper and score.
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The Crabs continued to threaten and Applegate saw his shot from the edge of the box tipped over the bar by Stebbings. A low cross then went to Shaun Cameron who played it to Matthews whose effort was blocked.
The hosts got their reward with about five minutes left in the first half. Groves' ball into the box went to Bradshaw who then passed in to Fawkes, who found the back of the net with not the cleanest of strikes.
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In the very next attack Cromer thought they had taken the lead when John Curtis cut in from the left and his shot towards goal took a deflection before beating Stebbings in the Loddon goal. But the goal was wiped out as for a debatable offside decision.
In the 56th minute the Crabs did take the lead. Jacob McCabe's cross was only half cleared and Matthew Eves put the ball back into the danger area where it found Matthews who beat Stebbings with an acrobatic over head kick. Matthews then turned provider when he laid the ball to Curtis whose shot was deflected wide.
Cromer were then lucky to remain in the lead when Frost broke quickly and seemed to have a good one-on-one opportunity but he unselfishly played the ball to Hill who had a simple tap in, but fortunately for the Crabs the Loddon striker had wandered into an offside position.
In the 80th minute the away side grabbed a deserved equaliser when Gary Summons had a free header from inside the box.
The final 10 minutes saw both sides have chance to get the victory. The first went to Cromer when the ball was given away to Eves who then beat his man and played the ball inside to Karl Horton who from close range struck the upright.
Then at the other end Frost again broke quickly and picked out Brown whose shot was saved at the near post.
Loddon did get what turned out to be the winner in the closing moments. Hall turned and beat his marker with ease and then shot towards goal. Jackson saved but it broke again for Hall who scored his second.
Cromer had an opportunity to get a share of the points when the ball was played over the top to Lewis Smith he but could only get a slight touch to guide the ball towards goal and it was cleared away.
Before the final whistle Loddon's Alex Brown received his second yellow card and was dismissed for persistent shows of dissent.
Once again the Crabs weren't up to the high level of performance expected and they suffered a second straight league defeat. The reigning champions now have a weekend off and they will be hoping that when they return to action they can get their season back on track.
Cromer Shopping Centre sponsored the match.
Cromer: Jackson, McCabe, Groves, Bradshaw, Cameron, Eves, Curtis (Harwood), Horton, Matthews, Fawkes, Applegate (Smith). Sub Not Used: Davison.