Home league match played on 12 March 2023.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

Quality, composure and determination were the order of the day as the Raiders saw off Stowmarket to seal all three points in a feisty affair at Nowton Park. Dumped out of the cup on penalties on their previous visit a week ago, Stowmarket came into this league fixture looking for revenge. They signalled their intent with some tough early challenges but the Raiders, who deployed a slightly tweaked formation with two forwards, stood firm and caused the Stow defence problems from the start. It wasn’t long before some early Raiders pressure paid off, and the deadlock was broken in fine fashion on three minutes. A tidy passage of play in midfield culminated in an incisive through-ball from Clarke. Barrett latched onto the pass and burst through the defence before firing a low drive past the stranded Stow goalkeeper and into the bottom corner. 1-0 to the Raiders and surely a return to winning ways in the league was now on the cards. Soon after, Hugo Andrews was unlucky not to make it 2-0 to the hosts when his right footed strike came back off the post. The boys in blue continued to create chances and Stowmarket frustrations grew. This frustration boiled over when Stow’s number three delivered a contender for worst tackle of the season, injuring Hugo Andrews in a challenge worthy of a red card at any age or level. Luckily for the away side, their player went unpunished. While the Raiders pushed for that elusive second goal at one end, they also defended resolutely at the other. Heston Andrews was sticking to his task against Stow’s trickiest (and mouthiest) player, while Kobylecki’s pace and the imperious Cook at the back made it look like Stow would be kept at bay. That was until a twentieth minute corner, when a fortunate rebound landed kindly at a Stow player’s feet and he finished with a half volley to draw level. 1-1 going into half time and the home side had work to do. The second half started with some good football from Raiders and a continuation of Stowmarket’s rough challenges. Arnold was breaking up play and spraying passes in midfield, Hibbard was now holding Stow’s right winger at bay and Stow’s backline went into panic mode every time Everard got the ball. The Raiders fans started to worry that it wasn’t going to be their day when Gooderham escaped the offside trap and saw his effort go agonisingly wide. But this team just keeps going. Deeks took the game by the scruff of the neck and Raiders somehow found another gear. More chances followed…but so did the nasty tackles. Barrett was the next victim when he collected a classic Horler long ball and ran clear of the defence, only to be scythed down by a cynical challenge just outside the box. This time the ref encouraged a substitution of the offending player. Unphased by the physical challenge in front of them, the Raiders kept pushing. Stow threatened with the odd breakaway, with their best chance coming when Horler came out to close the angle on Pushy Pusherton, forcing him to fire the ball just past the near post. Time was running short and nerves were jangling but the winner finally came on 54 minutes. The Raiders’ pressure and numbers in the box won out when, following a couple of attempts and a scramble in the box, the ball landed back at the feet of Clarke. The mid-season signing stayed calm and slotted the ball home for his first goal for the club; and what a great time to score it. Raiders saw out the game with some great play by Everard up front; holding up the ball and winning throws as he helped to wind down the clock. Not even a shameless last minute dive in the box by the Stowmarket number seven was enough to earn the visitors a shot at an undeserved draw. A tight, bruising game but an excellent performance and result as the Raiders’ title tilt continues. Moreton Hall Raiders 2-1 Stowmarket Town

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