Cowley back to his best to keep Needham firmly in play-off hunt

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Dave Cowley believes he is finally back to his best form as his stellar showing fired Needham Market right back in to the play-off hunt with a 4-0 victory over Waltham Abbey in Ryman League Division One North.

The diminutive winger opened the scoring at Bloomfields before a rampant second-half showing saw further goals from Keiran Morphew, Cowley and Sam Newson seal a second successive victory.

And having made the move from rivals AFC Sudbury, Cowley, who should be involved away at Maldon and Tiptree tomorrow (3pm) and at home to Aveley on Tuesday (7.45pm), is confident his decision will prove the right one come the end of the season with Needham perfectly poised in the promotion picture.

“I’m very pleased, it was a great performance and the lads deserved the victory,” he said. “When I signed for the club I hadn’t played regularly for a couple of months and so it was about getting that match fitness back.

“Now I’m match fit it is all coming together and I’ve been pleased with how I’m playing recently.

“I’m delighted that my decision to come here looks to be paying off. I wish I had signed for the club sooner because the style of football suits me and I’m able to express myself.

“Everything is looking good again in the league after our dip in form. “We’ve bounced back brilliantly and I can’t see why we can’t get in the play-offs.”

A slow start to proceedings saw both sides enjoy periods of possession without creating any clear opportunities.

It was from the hosts’ wastefulness in possession that the visitors came close to opening the scoring after 11 minutes.

Jack Daveney intercepted Darryl Coakley’s pass forward and drove forward before firing a left foot shot narrowly wide.

That appeared to galvanise the home side and after Cowley saw a curling effort flash across the goalmouth and agonisingly wide after 23 minutes, he finally broke the deadlock with just six minutes of the first half remaining.

A swift counter attack saw Newson beat three defenders before finding Ryan Crisp who in turn played in Cowley into the area to finish with a first time left foot strike across Matt Gill into the bottom right corner.

In stark contrast to the first half, the second period started at a frantic pace with Waltham Abbey going close twice in the opening eight minutes.

First James Peagram raced on to a long goal-kick, but with only Andrew Plummer to beat, the midfielder could only volley wide after 49 minutes. Just four minutes later, A poor kick from Plummer saw Joe Pearman beat Kemal Izzet to the ball but he couldn’t capitalise firing across goal and wide.

And the visitors were made to rue their wastefulness infront of goal as the hosts doubled their advantage in the 56th minute.

A flowing move on the right hand side saw a smart pass from Luke Ingram release Morphew into the area, who kept his cool to slot a neat left foot finish past the on-rushing Gill and into the bottom right corner.

That triggered a rampant 10-minute period from Needham, who added a third just three minutes later through Cowley.

Newson picked out Izzet in the area whose blocked strike fell perfectly to Cowley to lash home and put the result beyond doubt.

However the Marketmen refused to rest on their laurels and continued to pour forward in search of further goals as their shell shocked visitors struggled to cope with the onslaught of attacks.

And they were rewarded further for their attacking intent in the 65th minute as the tireless Newson grabbed the goal his endeavours deserved.

A long ball over the top saw the striker tussle with centre-half Matt Bedford, with Gill rushing out of his box.

A breakdown in communication saw the trio come together, resulting in the ball falling to Newson to simply stroke it home.

A major turning point in Needham’s attacking intent had been the introduction of Ryan Charles for the injured Ryan Crisp with the former adding pace to the hosts’ frontline.

It was his turn of speed that almost saw him add a fifth after 67 minutes as he outpaced Waltham’s backline before firing tamely at Gill.

That proved the final chance as Needham played out the remainder of the game to coast to three points.