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Monday, March 17, 2014
Norfolk came up trumps for the Groundhoppers who took in a trio of matches – with nine goals and some important results at the top of the two divisions.
Norwich United set the ball rolling with their mid-day kick-off, which saw them beat struggling Thetford Town 3-0 with goals from Paul Cook, Gavin Lemmon and Scott Woodgate, before the Groundhoppers moved on to Emerald Park, where Gorleston’s good form continued with a 3-1 win over Brantham Athletic.
The finale was at Great Yarmouth for a big clash at the top of the First Division, with new Bloaters boss Lee Hackleton suffering his first defeat as Swaffham left with a 1-0 victory.
Groundhoppers day was a league initiative to give non league fans the chance of their own ‘hat-trick’, but while some were celebrating, there was more disappointment for Diss, who went down 3-1 at Brightlingsea Regent, while Kirkley & Pakefield were beaten 2-1 at Wivenhoe.
Gorleston remain in fourth as the two teams above them – Brightlingsea and second-placed Felixstowe – both won, but there was a surprise as leaders Hadleigh went down 4-2 at home to Godmanchester Rovers.
Christy Finch was making his 100th appearance for Gorleston - and he marked it with a brace of goals, slotting home a 17th-minute penalty – his sixth this season – to set the ball rolling.
Gorleston doubled their lead in the 59th minute after Jack Garrod and David Hinton linked up on the left. The ball was fed in to Finch who moved it onto his left foot and fired unerringly into the bottom right corner.
Finch has now hit the net 30 times this season, equalling his tally for the whole of last season.
His 100 Gorleston appearances have seen him score 76 goals, putting him fifth of the list of Emerald Park goalscorers, seven behind Phil Wooldridge in fourth.
The Greens made the game safe in the 70th minute when Chris Sandford scored the 49th of his Gorleston career, before Brantham scored when Ed Nobbs’ shot deflected off Poppy.
Yarmouth were perhaps fortunate not to lose to second-placed Swaffham by a wider margin – Alex Vincent hit the bar from 20 yards, Mark Allibone headed over from 10 and Joe Jackson found accuracy but not enough power to beat the keeper. The winner came just before half-time, from Matthew Castellan.
Downham Town went down 4-1 at home to leaders Whitton United while promotion hopefuls Fakenham Town were beaten 1-0 at Needham Market Reserves.