DIVISION ONE NORTH
Needham Market 0
Enfield Town 1
NEEDHAM Market goalkeeper Liam Jones rued losing a precious three points in the Marketmen’s quest for second place despite showing his own capabilities.
The 25-year-old stopper, who pulled off a string of fine saves during the first half to keep the game goalless, said his side didn’t get going until it was too late.
A 53rd-minute header from Bryan Hammatt sealed the victory for Enfield as recent form was turned on its head.
But while Needham’s man-of-the-match Jones was more than earning his crust, his opposite number, Noel Imber, only had one save to make in the whole 90 minutes.
“We didn’t really perform first half,” said Jones. “We were well below what we should have been.
“Towards the end of the second half we started getting the ball on the floor and playing football and had a lot more chances, but didn’t really test their keeper.
“They were dangerous going forward, their big number nine held the ball up well and it was sticking.
“Their 10, the central midfielder, was decent and put in a free header from eight yards and it is a shame we could have played a bit better, but it is just how it goes.”
Darcy De’ath, Deakin Napier and Danny Thrower came into Needham’s starting XI while Enfield left the league’s top marksman, Liam Hope (22) on the bench.
After a cagery start, second-placed Enfield almost took the lead with the first effort of the game after 20 minutes but Jones was able to beat away Rudi Hall’s 20 yard free-kick after James Evans’ robust challenge on Tyler Campbell had sparked an unpunished brawl.
Danny Thrower’s stooping header and Deakin Napier’s flash across goal were as near as the Marketmen came to goal during a drab first half for the hosts, who had Jones to thank for going into the break on level terms.
The stopper, who admits he has now found his feet after banishing a few opening nerves after rejoining Needham 13 games ago, denied Tyler Campbell at his near post, pushed out Hall’s corner and also got his hands on Walid Matata’s header.
Hammatt volleyed against the bar at the start of the second half before Enfield finally took the lead they deserved when the same player ghosted in to head home Hall’s delicious cross from the right.
Needham manager Danny Laws brought on Angelo Harrop and switched from a 4-4-1-1 formation, where Newson had seen far too little of the ball, to a 4-2-3-1 set-up which soon saw them begin to find their rhythm.
But aside from a De’ath header being palmed out by Imber and McGlone failing to get a proper connection on a loose ball in the box in the dying embers, Needham could not salvage anything that, in truth, they never really deserved.
Needham: JONES 9, Evans 6, Rhys Barber (c) 6, Bradley Barber 7, Boyland 7, De’ath 8, Napier 5 (Harrop 56’ 7), Fenn 5, Newson 6, Wright 6 (Bloomfield 69’ 6), Thrower 6, (McGlone 69’ 6). Unused subs: Chaplin, Johnson.
n Needham host Romford at Bloomfields tomorrow (3pm).