PROUD Little Oakley manager Matt Carmichael hailed both sets of supporters for creating such a special atmosphere in Monday’s derby at Harwich and Parkeston.

The Acorns ran out 2-1 winners in the Thurlow Nunn League first division south showdown, thanks to a goal in each half from talented teenager Greg Rodger.

Harwich’s Jordan Heath had levelled from the penalty spot but it was the visitors who went on to secure the bragging rights – much to the delight of their vociferous supporters in a bumper attendance of 643.

“Both sets of fans were fantastic and you’re not going to get an atmosphere like that two levels higher,” he said.

“It was great for our players to celebrate with them afterwards.

“It was a huge day and while winning is everything, would it mean as much in front of 20 people? No. Does it mean more in front of 650? Absolutely.

“It takes things up a notch and makes it a special occasion.

“There was banter and a buzz and credit to both clubs for the part they played.

“It was a great day for the town in general and that’s down to Kieron (Shelley) and Mike (Wallace) at Harwich and what we’re doing here at Oakley.

“We all want to win, are committed and care deeply our clubs.

“But between us we’ve created a culture in the town and it feels like football is back, with two clubs at step six level.

“People are buying into it and that can only be positive for the future.

“If you’re a 13 or 14-year-old lad in the crowd, you must watch on thinking ‘I want to play in a Harwich-Oakley derby’.

“I remember coming to the Oak when I was a boy and seeing big crowds of 400 people.

“I wanted to be out there playing and hopefully the same thing’s happening now.

“It’s about capturing imaginations and as clubs and managers, we need to ensure the next generation are here now.

“Everything’s set up for both clubs to be successful and it’s important we both keep improving.

“Other clubs in this league certainly will and if you stand still in football, you’re moving backwards.”

Carmichael felt his side ran out deserving winners.

“I guess it could have gone either way,” he said.

“But after an even first half, I thought we were the better team in the second.

“If we’d taken our chances, we could have found ourselves three or 4-1 up.

“Harwich came at us after our early goal, throwing the kitchen sink.

“But Dan Joyce only had a couple of saves to make.

“Sam Felgate was the busier keeper and in the second half I thought we looked fitter and a bit better technically.

“Tactically, the boys really listened and did their jobs.

“When they happens, half the battle is won, regardless of who you’re playing.

“The boys worked hard but also showed talent, technique and heart.

“They showed they more than deserve to be part of what we’re trying to do here, moving forward.

“Even the subs’ attitude was fantastic.

“No-one let us down and that’s all I can ask.”

Carmichael added: “In particular, I was pleased for (chairman) Michael Good and all the people behind the scenes at Oakley.

“A lot of people put a lot in, be in time, money or whatever.

“It’s nice for those people and I said exactly the same for (Harwich chairman) Tony Armstrong when they beat us on Boxing Day.”