March romp to victory at league leaders
Downham Town 0, March Town 3
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League division one north
The Hares sent out a statement of intent to the rest of the division with an emphatic victory against a side which started the day in pole position.
Backed by a large and vocal contingent of away fans among the crowd of 207, Brett Whaley's men dominated from start to finish against a Downham side only previously beaten three times in 20 league games.
In fact the score could have been a lot worse for the home side, with March twice hitting the woodwork, having an effort cleared off the line and also falling foul to a very close offside decision when it seemed Craig Gillies had scored.
A re-jigged defence, with Tom McLeish joining Danny Emmington in the centre and Jamie Short and Jack Saunders in the full back roles, looked very solid. Dylan Edge showed constant class, playing on the left in the first half and right after the break, and new boy Lewis Hilliard – signed on dual registration from Peterborough Sports while he gets match fit after injury – was also impressive.
With Craig Gillies, Jack Friend and Toby Allen their usual threat up front, Charlie Congreve solid in goal and Jack Rawson combative in the middle, it really was a superb team performance.
March started on the front foot and nearly took the lead in the very first minute when Edge crossed from the left and Gillies' shot hit the bar and dropped down right on the line. Five minutes later a long throw found the head of Allen and his effort again rattled Downham's bar.
A goal was coming but when it arrived it was rather fortuitous, former Chatteris player Saunders whipping in a cross that evaded all in the box and ended up in the back of the net. It looked to be two after 33 minutes after Gillies tapped home another great cross from Edge, but it was ruled offside and March only had one goal to show for their dominance at half time.
The visitors started the second half just as they did the first and doubled their lead after just two minutes when Gillies headed in his 20th goal of the season from a great Edge free kick. Allen then saw a header cleared off the line and fired another shot over on the hour as March continued to dominate.
Downham nearly pulled one back after 65 minutes when Jack Frohawk's rasping 25 yard free kick went through Congreve, but he recovered to save the ball from crossing the line.
But that was all the home side really had to offer and, with eight minutes left, Allen played through Friend 12 yards out and he smashed home from an angle for his 28th goal in 27 games.
March (4-3-3): Congreve: Saunders, McLeish, Emmington, Short; Edge (Gibson 85 mins), Rawson (Rothery 71), Hilliard (Cooke 64); Allen, Friend, Gillies. Sub (not used): B. Warren.
Downham: McAnally, Berry, Gould, Sykes, Yates, Dougal (Fenn 60 mins), Bloodworth, Watts-Sturrock, Baxter-Hunt, Calvert (Oughton 71), Frohawk (Plumb 73). Subs (not used): Sharp, Cox.
Referee: Ian Pascu.
Goals: Saunders (18 mins, 0-1); Gillies (47 mins, 0-2), Friend (82 mins, 0-3).
Bookings: Rawson (March) – foul.
Star man: Dylan Edge – a constant threat down both flanks.