Cromer Town lift Anglian Combination title

Cromer 3 Loddon 0

Cromer retained the Anglian Combination title last night after a crunch match last game against Loddon.

The Crabs needed to win to leapfrog Acle and keep the Sterry Cup, and it was a tense opening half hour when the home team dominated the game but rarely threatened to score.

When Cromer turned up the wick towards the end of the first half Loddon keeper Paul Stebbings kept them in the game with two superb saves, touching a Simon Freemantle angled drive on to the bar, then going down low to stop a stooping header from busy midfield Karl Horton.

Cromer's breakthrough came after 40 minutes when left back Sam Groves crossed, the leggy and lively Matthew Eves controlled it well and turned to hit a low shot home to ease the would-be champions' nerves and put one hand on the trophy.

Within a minute it looked as if Cromer had surrendered their advantage when skipper Liam Davies handled in the box, but Gary Summons' spot kick was well-saved by Nathan Pauling.

Most Read

After the break Cromer again dominated, but did not clinch the vital three points and the title until two late goals.

First centre half Paul Bradshaw rose to sending a thumping header home from a Scott Woodcock cross after 72 minutes.

Then, with six minutes to go, Antoni Fawkes - who later picked up the supporters' player of the season award - set the crowd alight with a glancing header from Eves' cross to secure the win.

The final whistle was a double champagne moment for captain Liam Davies, who became a father at 6.30am the previous day when son Oscar popped into the world weighing in at 8lb 15oz.

'It has been a fantastic season, and a tight league,' he said. The game was tough because it was postponed for eight days, due to a waterlogged pitch, providing a long gap, so the opening spell was nervous.

Manager Chris Wigger, in his fourth season with the club, praised his players for sticking to his game plan when they had a 'tough job to do' after a 'hard slog of a season' when Acle them work for the title.

He admitted it took the first goal to sette the nerves, and the penalty save was a 'massive movement'.

Cromer's back-to-back success was the first since Kirkley did it in 2002 and 2003. Wigger said he was delighted with matching that, but would be back with former Norwich player Cedric Anselin as his first team coach next year, in a bid to make it a hat trick 'because no-one else has done it.'