DIVISION ONE NORTH
Needham Market 5
Needham Market manager Mark Morsley insists now is the time to start clawing back the gap to the Ryman One North play-off places.
The Marketmen host third-placed Heybridge Swifts tomorrow(3pm) — weather permitting — with the intention of reeling in their visitors from Essex.
They enter the match on the back of a 5-2 win at Wroxham on New Year’s Day, courtesy of a brace apiece from Ryan Melaugh and Ian Westlake and one from Adam Mills.
Morsley, who remains without Sam Newson until at least the end of January and right-back Ollie Brown for the rest of the season, said: “We’ve turned into a new year and have spent half a season getting the squad settled — now we have to push on and get ourselves solidly in that play-off area.”
Needham’s task at Trafford Park looked so easy less than two-and-a-half minutes into the match when Richard Logan, Russell Malton and Westlake combined down the right to set up Melaugh, who had all the time in the world to collect Westlake’s square pass and pick his spot before stroking the ball past the goalkeeper.
However, Wroxham levelled when Sam Harty found the top right corner from the edge of the penalty area.
There were chances at both ends, but no further goals during the rest of the first half.
One player showing a deadly eye for goal though was Melaugh and he put the Marketmen back in front when he beautifully took Westlake’s lofted pass in his stride on the left and drilled the ball between Robert Juhasz’s legs, with the ball bouncing up off the goalkeeper’s right heel and into the top right corner.
With Wroxham’s attacking threat diminishing, Westlake opened a two-goal cushion in the 63rd minute when he jinked his way through the home defence and found the narrowest of gaps between Juhasz and the near post from such an acute angle he was almost on the left byline.
The match was put to bed by the same player seven minutes later when he sidefooted Malton’s cross from the right into the roof of the net.
There was still time for two more goals — one at each end.
Wroxham’s Harty became the third player to complete his brace when he volleyed home from the edge of the area, but Mills’ close-range header restored Needham’s three-goal cushion.
“We kept our style of play by moving the ball quickly and it could have been a lot more than 5-2,” added Morsley.
Needham: Plummer 6, Morphew 6 (Driver 67, 6), Coakley 6, Logan 7, Fenn 6, Nunn 6, Ingram 6, Izzet 7, Malton 6, WESTLAKE 9 (Hammond 75, 6), Melaugh 8 (Mills 85, 7). Subs not used: Thrower, Munson.
n Needham Market Reserves defeated Debenham LC 4-3 in the Thurlow Nunn League First Division on Saturday thanks to goals from Ace Howell (two), Brendon Heath and Sam Thrower. They travel to Haverhill Borough tomorrow (3pm) and host Whitton United on Tuesday (7.45pm).