Newmarket Town 1 Cammell Laird 2
The choice for the quarter finals was between Hillingdon or Newmarket, I'd been to Hillingdon in the last round, so selected this easy journey to Suffolk. Having ensured that the match was on following 2 weeks of bitterly cold weather, I set off on what was ultimately an incident free journey. I did recognise some groundhoppers at Cambridge station and took the liberty of listening into their conversation. I basically learnt that Cirencestor's new ground was not well signed and that it was a long walk to Christchurch's ground, but nice in the summer. These things are always worth knowing. On arriving in Newmarket, all the other hoppers headed off for the ground. We had loads of time so I headed for the town centre and immediately stumbled on Tattersalls. One of the things I like about ground-hopping is the little parts of England's history and culture that you often bump into. Tattersalls looked very shut, but it was still interesting to see. The one lonely horse in the field looked a bit like Billy-no-mates and reminded me of the geek at school who was always last to be picked for any team. The horse seemed to have a bit of a limp and reminded me of a nag I'd backed a few weeks ago in the 3:45 at Utoxeter. On first impression, there's not a lot to Newmarket town although I did quite like it. You find more if you explore down the back streets. Following my recent run of good cafes, I was looking for the same. I thought I'd come up trumps when I saw a sign advertising Beef Stroganoff for £3.55, but the cafe had a few elderly well dressed couples and all the tables were dressed in fine linen. I figured it wasn't the place for a bloke with a wooly hat and a string bag and instead chose a Wimpey. I sat inside, the food and coffee were hot but other than that, decidedly average and I didn't stick around for too long. The ground is just a 10 minute walk from the station along a quiet residential street in a nice little area. Newmarket have a reasonably sized stand and a small wooden covered area opposite with a few benches in it. Other than that, it's just a white rail ground. Their is a good sized clubhouse with bar although it's a tight squeeze getting in when there's a reasonable crowd. One Cammell Laird fan exclaimed that they needed to sell jam butties, if that's what they serve in Birkenhead, I must pay a visit. I last visited Newmarket on the day England won the rugby World cup. It pelted down with rain the entire afternoon and the away team won 4~2 in a mudbath of a match. For this game, I had freezing temperatures, bright sunshine, two blizzards and a heavy snow shower at half-time. Despite, this, the pitch was perfectly playable although the playing area does have some strange dips and hollows which must be tricky to play on.
The first half was tight with Cammell Laird a shadow of the team I saw in Chessington. The game was certainly interesting, although chances were few and far between. Newmarket scored in first half stoppage time. A corner from the left was hit to the far post. Shaw pushed away his marker, but the referee did not spot it and Shaw headed in, the ball hitting the net off the top of a defenders head. You always thought Cammell Laird would get back into it and Newmarket were disappointing in the second half. The equaliser came on 61 mins, Cooke hooked the ball on to the speedy Morgan who rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net. Cammell Laird were driven on by the Stephen Gerard lookalike McGuire and impressive substitutes Hargreaves and Conroy. The winner came on 87 mins. A similar goal to Newmarket's saw a deep corner from the left met by Collins who nodded into the top corner.
No classic, but an enjoyable goal. How often do you see the same team lose twice in the same competition twice in the same season? (Newmarket were re-instated a couple of rounds ago as their victorious opponents were kicked out for fielding an inelligible player).