DIVISION ONE NORTH
Needham Market 1 Waltham Forest 0
NEEDHAM Market midfielder Duane Wright was left delighted after his solitary strike kept the Marketmen on course for a play-off place.
In a less than memorable encounter, Wright rose highest in the fifth minute to head home Bradley Barber’s free-kick to ensure the narrow victory over the Stags, which keeps Needham firmly within the Ryman League’s all important top five places.
The match winner was far from concerned with the less than convincing victory as he argued maximum points are all that matter in their quest to secure a play-off berth come the end of the campaign.
“I was delighted with my goal but more importantly it was great we got the result and maximum points,” he said.
“It wasn’t a great game of football but for us it is all about getting maximum points and we did that.
“All we want to do is make sure we have enough points to make the play-offs and the result will help us do that.
“If we continue to play ugly but win, none of us will be complaining because the points are the important thing.
“Everything is looking good for us and hopefully we can just keep pushing on and ensure we make the play-offs.”
The home side started strongly and grabbed the only goal of the game after just five minutes as Wright rose above Inaki Ordono to direct his header beyond Eric Barratt and into the net via the right-hand upright.
Five minutes later, Deakin Napier spurned a golden opportunity to double the hosts’ lead.
Racing on to Angelo Harrop’s clever flick on the edge of the area, Napier only had Barratt to beat but somehow slid his right foot effort wide of the mark.
The visitors responded in the 26th minute but captain Adrian Clifton could not keep his right-footed volley down, as he fired over Liam Jones’ bar from inside the area.
Moments before the break, Waltham should have pulled level as Manu Dagher found space inside the area but his tame effort was easily gathered by Jones as the hosts held on to a slender lead going into the interval.
The visitors continued to create the clearer chances after the break and almost pulled level after 54 minutes as the lively Jamie Moore danced his way into the area but fired his effort wide of the right post.
Five minutes later and against the run of play, the hosts wasted another opportunity to extended their advantage with Sam Newson the culprit on this occasion.
James Evans’ long throw from the right was flicked on by Wright, who found Newson two yards out, but the striker somehow stabbed his effort straight at Barratt when it appeared easier to score.
And he was almost made to rue his wasteful finishing moments from full-time as the visitors created another golden opportunity to snatch a share of the spoils.
Clifton’s deep free-kick found its way through to defender Nicolas Bondon, who beat the offside trap but not custodian Jones, who raced off his line to smother the game’s final chance away, ensuring Needham a narrow, but vital, victory.
Needham: Jones 7, Evans 6, R Barber 6, B Barber 7, BOYLAND 8, Johnson 7, Wright 8 (De’ath 85, 6), Fenn 7, Newson 7 (Thrower 70, 6), Harrop 6, Napier 6 (McGlone 70, 6). Subs not used: Chaplin, Bloomfield
Shots on target 4 6
Shots off target 7 5
Woodwork 0 0
Corners 2 4
Offsides 5 2
FK conceded 6 6
Red Cards: None
Referee: Chris Francis.