Diss Reserves revive title ambitions
Needham Market Reserves 1, Diss Town Reserves 2
After four games without a win Diss Reserves bounced back with a win at fellow title chasers Needham Market Reserves to keep in the hunt for the Ridgeons Reserve League title.
Diss gave the ball away in the first half and went in at the break 1-0 down.
However, they put the problems right at half time to secure a valuable win. Half of the 14 man squad play for one of the two Diss Under-18's teams. There were encouraging performances from Will Hooton, Brendan Head and Robbie Campbell, who had just one substitute appearance between them at this level ahead of the game.
Aaron Bunn was the busier goalkeeper for the first 30 minutes although neither side created a clear cut chance. Bunn made a fine 31st minute save to deny Luke Wade to a cross from Nuno Nogueira.
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Five minutes later Wade headed in from two yards out to a cross from the left by David Canon to put Needham ahead. Bunn made another fine diving save before the break.
Diss were playing a better passing game in the second half although their formation was disrupted by injuries to Keiron Harris and Jesse Payne-Wilkins.
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The equaliser came in the 70th minute when a long kick from Bunn was not cut out. The ball bounced and Kirk Bardsley took it on before sliding the ball past the advancing Tom Sills for his 17th goal of the season.
Four minutes later Steve Best headed a Bardsley corner towards goal. His effort was blocked and Tom Whiting reacted quickly to tap in from close range for his first Diss goal.
Moments later Bunn made another good save tipping over a 30 yard shot from James Ross which dipped and swerved late.
Diss Reserves Manager's man of the Match: A close call between the two oldest players. It went to Steve Best who used his experience to lead the younger players around him and organise superbly to ensure that the 2-1 lead was held. Aaron Bunn made vital saves and, like Best, can claim an assist for a goal.
Diss Reserves: Aaron Bunn, Keiron Harris, Matty Cobb, Carl Branson, Tom Whiting, Steve Best, Ryan Macfadden, Will Hooton, George Cole, Kirk Bardsley, Jesse Payne-Wilkins, Elliot Jackson. Diss subs: Brendan Head (for Hooton 73 mins), Robbie Campbell (for Payne-Wilkins 54 mins due to knee injury), Tom Whiting (for Harris at half time due to hamstring injury) and Lewis Riches.
Debenham Leisure Centre Res 1, Diss Town Reserves 0
Debenham Reserves and Diss Reserves tried hard on a difficult, hard and bumpy surface to provide entertainment but in the end were forced to play a long ball game. There were clear signs of end-of-season tired legs. Diss are now missing several players to long-term injuries.
Diss came close to opening the scoring after just 13 seconds when Steve Wright won the ball and moved forward to hit a 25 yard left foot shot inches wide.
The only goal of the game came in the sixth minute in spectacular style. Ben Atkinson turned and hit a 25 yard left shot in off the inside top corner of the goal.
Within a minute Wright was denied an equaliser by the feet of Nathan Smith, who palmed away the follow up shot from Elliot Jackson.
From a 14th minute Kirk Bardsley corner on the right central defender Steve Best headed against a post. Carl Branson had a long range 39th minute shot well saved.
Wright hit the post after surging into the penalty area in the 58th minute. A minute later Diss had a fine chance to equalise. Bardsley moved on to a Rafel Szalek through ball and his shot hit the post but he was brought down by a late tackle by Smith and a penalty kick was awarded. Smith made a good diving save to the kick and bravely dived on the rebound at the feet of Bardsley.
A minute into added time Smith again denied Bardsley with a save.
Diss Reserves manager's man-of-the-match: Rafel Szalek gave another fully committed performance. He changed position a few times in the game but his 100 per cent commitment has been a feature of his play since joining the club in the second half of last season.
Diss Reserves: Aaron Bunn, Ryan Macfadden, Rafel Szalek, Carl Branson, Steve Best, Matty Cobb, Tom Whiting, George Cole, Kirk Bardsley, Steve Wright, Elliot Jackson.
Diss subs: Brendan Head (for Whiting 48 mins) and Ronnie de Barra Qoopre (for Cole 83 mins).