RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: Needham Market 1 Soham Town Rangers 0: Needham Market captain Sheridan Driver is more than happy for his side to win ugly after clinching a vital victory in their push for the play-offs.
In a rather forgettable encounter against play-off rivals Soham Town Rangers at Bloomfields, substitute Sam Newson seized upon the one clear-cut opportunity after 73 minutes to seal all three points for the hosts.
But with the Marketmen, who were set to welcome fellow promotion rivals Thurrock last night, three points adrift of the play-offs ahead of a trip to Barkingside tomorrow (3pm) and home tie with Waltham Forest on Thursday (7.45pm), Driver is just happy to pick up points by whatever means possible.
“For us, a win is a win and it’s three points no matter how well you play, that’s the main thing," he said. “It was a very tight game, but I thought all along we had a goal in us and thankfully Sam did what he is always capable of.
“We knew coming into the game it was going to be a difficult one, but we got the win and that was the important thing.
“We let everyone down on Saturday losing to Cheshunt and we were very disappointed in ourselves, but this was a great way to bounce back.
“This is a very important period for us with games against some top sides, so this was a big win for us.
“It is a tough period, but it is the same for everyone so that won’t be used as an excuse, we need to get our heads down, work hard and hopefully keep bringing home the points.
“In the last month we have done pretty well and despite Saturday’s defeat I think we are looking strong and have a good chance of getting into the play-offs.”
In what proved an evenly-fought and tight first-half period, the visitors started at a high intensity with a high pressing game, keeping Needham’s backline under constant pressure in possession.
Of the very few clear-cut chances, Antonio Murray saw a weak header easily saved by Andrew Plummer, while Buster Harradine spurned a promising free-kick from the edge of the area as he sent his low drilled effort past the left upright.
At the other end, Ian Westlake wasted two opportunities, firing over from inside the area and heading tamely at Enol Ordonez, while Ryan Crisp failed to test the custodian inside the box, firing wide as the sides went in level at the break.
Rangers started the second period the brighter of the two sides with Luke Stanley almost beating Plummer at his near post with a stinging low strike after 54 minutes, before the striker sent an acrobatic effort into the hands of the custodian 10 minutes later.
However, it was the hosts who broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute as Newson raced on to David Cowley’s lofted pass before slotting a left-footed shot past Ordonez and into the bottom right corner.
With two minutes remaining, James McCabe went agonisingly close to snatching a deserved point, but Plummer somehow brilliantly tipped his stinging low effort round the post to ensure the Marketmen held on for victory.
n Needham’s hopes of reaching the play-offs took a hit when they lost 2-1 at home to Cheshunt on Saturday.
The Marketmen went in front through Ryan Crisp in the 33rd minute, but they threw away that advantage during the second half.
Crisp won a penalty, but then saw his spot-kick saved and Luke Marshall fired in a leveller three minutes shy of the hour-mark.
The turnaround was complete five minutes later when Omer Riza rounded Andrew Plummer to tuck in the second Cheshunt goal.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men 19 minutes from time when Milton Elenge received his second yellow card, but Needham could find no way back into the match.
n Needham Market Reserves face three games in the next five days — at home to Fakenham Town tomorrow (3pm) and Swaffham Town on Monday (7.45pm), followed by a trip to Haverhill Borough on Wednesday (7.45pm).
nNeedham Market’s Sam Thrower grabbed the headlines as Suffolk Under-18s hit Hertfordshire FA for six in the East Anglian Counties Championship.
A second-half substitute, Thrower wasted no time in putting his case forward for a starting spot with an impressive hat-trick haul.