Injury-hit Loddon cannot hold title favourites again
Cromer Town 2, Loddon United 0
Loddon travelled to Cromer for the return fixture, having drawn at home the previous week, but – carrying injuries – were well short of their recent form and came home pointless as the Crabs marched towards the Anglian Combination championship.
From the kick-off, Parkin and Dan Andersen got Squire away down the right to win a corner which came to nothing.
Cromer reesponded with a break into the box, Stebbings was beaten and Hancock covered with a timely challenge.
Cromer dominated as Loddon tried to get to grips with a new formation and struggled to get out of their own half. Stebbings pulled off a fingertip save.
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Loddon managed to win a free-kick which developed into a couple of corners and a claim for handball in the box turned down.
Dan Andersen had a half-chance receiving from Riches, but he could not test the keeper.
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Squire, on his own up front, had the thankless task of chasing and closing the home defence for little reward.
Loddon’s best move was started by Durrant to Dan Andersen wide. He played inside to Summons, who fed Hancock who was supporting. But his cross sailed wide.
Then on 22 minutes after a spell of pressure and some stubborn defending by Durrant, Cromer’s No 7 nipped through to put the Crabs one up.
They could have added another moments later, but on the half-hour, pressure from Squire on the keeper forced a wayward punch clear, and Riches half-volley from the edge of the box screamed over the bar.
Cromer came back with a scuffed effort to Stebbings and a shot over, but Durrant and Baylis seemed to be in the right place on numerous occasions to keep the score down to one at half-time.
The second half saw Loddon push Riches further forward in an effort to get something out of the game.
Cromer attacked from the start and had the ball in the net, but offside was ruled.
Town’s No 7 then went through into the box, was caught by Durrant but to his credit stayed on his feet. He was challenged by Robin Andersen, again there were claims, and Baylis cleared.
Likewise, at the other end, a Riches dummy set up Squire who rode a high challenge, and again the referee waved play on.
Then on 50 minutes, Stebbings made a great point-blank save from the centre-half at the far post.
Robin Andersen hit a good cross into the six-yard box, and then Hancock did the same from the other side looking for Riches – but the ball fell kindly for Cromer and they cleared.
A bizarre collision between Durrant and Baylis left both needing treatment (thanks to the home physio for his help) and Baylis was only able to continue briefly before being replaced by Sayer, who settled in comfortably.
Loddon survived until the 70th minute when a cross from the left was converted by Cromer’s No 7 to make it two.
This kicked Loddon into action. Dan Andersen saw more of the ball and caused problems and won a couple of corners. Parkin, Squire and Riches had chances, Robin Andersen and Greenhalf burst into life down the left, and decent crosses went begging.
With 10 minutes left, Dan Andersen made a great run between defenders but scuffed his shot – what a finale that may have produced.
Cromer still threatened on the break but it was a decent last 20 minutes for Loddon and gives them a lift going to high-flying Norwich St Johns tomorrow.
Good second half from Robin Andersen and John Riches, but Musker McIntyre man-of-the-match goes to the ever-reliable Richard Durrant.
Loddon: Stebbings, Hancock (captain), Baylis, Durrant, Andersen R, Andersen D, Summons G, Parkin M, Riches, Greenhalf, Squire. Subs: Sayer, Marjoribanks, Creegan.