RYMAN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION: Needham Market 2 Folkestone Invicta 1
A Billy Holland strike in each half was just about enough to see Needham Market get back to winning ways this afternoon.
Folkestone Invicta travelled up to Bloomfields in 13th place, but belied their league position to force 2nd placed Needham back into their own half for large periods of the match.
Controversy reigned at full-time as the vocal band of away followers continued their protests to the match officials that they felt a legitimate injury-time equaliser had not been given.
Referee Ryan Whitaker did not agree Callum Davies' effort, which saw Danby Gay arching backwards to claw out, had crossed the line, before the assistant's offside flag went up after substitute Carl Rook turned in the rebound.
Needham, looking to bounce back from Monday's 5-1 hammering at Suffolk rivals Lewiston, got off to the perfect start when Holland had the net bulging 21 seconds in.
After the kick-off was laid back and the ball pumped down the right-hand side, Luke Ingram latched onto it and put in a dangerous low cross. Folkestone's defence failed to clear it beyond the edge of the penalty area and Holland was on hand to fire it into the left corner.
The visitors began pressing for a quick reply and Ronnie Dolan's deflected free-kick brought a save out of Danny Gay in the sixth minute, before he was having to turn a Josh Vincent effort around his near post soon after.
Daryl Coakley put well over from a good position at the other end before Gay was called into action again to push out at his near post, with Ian Miller doing well to hack clear before a foul was given against him.
Needham should have doubled their advantage in the 24th minute, but Coakley couldn't direct a Dobson cross that flicked up off Holland goalwards.
The hosts, who were seeing far less of the ball, hit the goal-frame twice four minutes later, but the offside flag was raised for the fifth time against them in the opening half hour following Dobson hitting the post inside the area after Simmons had done likewise.
Folkestone continued to probe at the other end but had no penetration.
The south coast visitors continued to be the side on the front foot following the restart, and almost levelled when Miles Cornwell's effort was deflected just wide.
Morphew, in only his second game back for the Marketmen since a long standing ankle injury, headed narrowly wide at the other end in a passage of play which had seen Simmons' clever play bring a near post save out of Tim Roberts.
Luke Ingram's shot on the turn inside the area was deflected wide for Needham's first corner of the match in the 59th minute. But the hosts went on to waste the set piece.
The goal the visitors had long threatened came in the 75th minute.
Needham were punished after not clearing a deep free-kick when Cornwell fired a loose ball from Davies' header beyond Gay.
But it only took Mark Morsley's side three minutes to get back in front.
Home debutante Simmons saw his shot come back off the bar and Holland was quickest to react to turn it in.
With Bognor Regis Town drawing 1-1 at home to Billericay Town, it looked as if Needham would end the day back on top of the league.
But only late heroics from Gay, clawing out of the top corner at a late corner, before his arching save to deny Davies in stoppage time, saw the home side keep hold of their three points.
As it was, a late winner from Bognor Regis ensured the top two stayed the Same as at kick-off, with Needham remaining a point off the leaders.
Needham: Gay, Dye, Coakley (Snaith, 76'), Morphew (Harrison, 69'), Miller, Whight, Simmons, Izzet (c), Dobson (Nunn, 65'), Ingram, Holland. Unused sub's: Clark, Munson.
Free Press Man of The Match: Billy Holland. In a more advanced midfield role came up with the vital goals to turn a below-par performance into three precious points.
* log back onto this website on Monday for a video interview with match winner Billy Holland.