RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: Needham Market 3 Tilbury 2: Mark Morsley has challenged his Needham Market side to continue their play-off charge in the coming week after sealing a third successive win.
In a thrilling encounter against their Essex counterparts, two goals from Jamie Guy and a further strike from Lee Townrow, who also netted at the wrong end late on, secured all three points for the Marketmen to follow on from their 3-0 win away at Waltham Abbey on Saturday to see them climb to seventh, just two points out of the play-offs.
And with two further games at home on the spin against eighth-placed Maldon and Tiptree tomorrow (3pm) and struggling Brentwood Town on Tuesday (7.45pm) the manager has backed his side to force their way into the top five and cap off a fruitful period.
“We identified this would be an important month and the league is looking much brighter than it was before,” he said.
“The next two matches will give us an opportunity to cement our play-off place.
“Maldon are in a bit of a false position but Brentwood is a good opportunity for victory, they are certainly both games we will be looking to get maximum points from.”
Needham dominated the early proceedings and were ahead after just seven minutes as Ian Westlake beat the offside trap before picking out Guy who slotted past Chico Ramos.
The home side continued to flood forward with both Westlake and Ryan Melaugh calling Ramos into action as he kept the scoreline down to a single goal at the interval.
That momentum continued after the break with Luke Ingram and Guy both spurning chances immediately after the re-start.
And they were made to rue their wastefulness after 52 minutes as Donovan Simmonds capitalised on the abundant space afforded to him inside the area to draw the visitors level.
The home side were then forced to withstand heavy pressure from a now resurgent Tilbury side as substitute Ryan Blackman came a lick of paint away from putting the visitors ahead with his curling strike crashing back off the underside of the bar.
Needham capitalised on their good fortune with just three minutes remaining as Townrow bundled home from close range to regain the hosts lead, before Guy looked certain to have wrapped up victory just a minute later, slotting home a rebound after his initial strike had been parried by Ramos.
There was just enough time for Tilbury to give the hosts a nervy few final minutes as Townrow inadvertently diverted a cross into his own net, but it did not prove decisive as Needham played out the final moments to claim victory.
n The Tilbury result was the third time in succession a previously goal-shy Needham struck three times following a convincing 3-0 success over Waltham Abbey on Saturday.
Ryan Crisp broke the deadlock with the game just three minutes old with further goals from Kemal Izzet and Ian Westlake wrapping up a comfortable afternoon.
n Needham Market Reserves have been expelled from this season’s Suffolk Senior Cup after fielding an ineligible player in their second round victory over Grundisburgh.
The Thurlow Nunn League First Division outfit won the tie 6-5 on penalties, after the sides had drawn 1-1 but have now been removed from the competition after fielding Guy Evans.
Grundisburgh will now travel to Lakenheath in the quarter-finals on Saturday, December 7.