RYMAN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
Needham Market 0
Sam Newson conceded Needham Market are still adjusting to life in the Premier Division but warned mistakes must be cut out after their latest loss.
Following promotion as champions last season, the Marketmen have endured a difficult start to the new campaign with the latest home humbling against Hendon maintaining their so far winless return from the first four matches, with two draws and two defeats.
And while the striker conceded his side are still learning to cope with the improved quality at a higher level, he also warned they must eradicate defensive lapses if they are to stand any chance of competing this season.
“It was a bad performance collectively and we will learn from it,” said Newson who endured a frustrating and predominantly isolated afternoon up front.
“The biggest thing is we have to stop giving away soft goals.
“We have struggled in the first few games this season to adapt to this level, it is definitely a step up.
“We were never kidding ourselves to think we could come up and find it easy, we need to take it one step at a time.
“That could take a bit of time to adjust but hopefully that will come sooner rather than later.
“We need to get up to speed with the pace of this level and make sure we can compete across the pitch.
“Obviously playing a level below for the past five seasons the step up will be a learning curve for all of us.
“We were so comfortable for most of the season last year but that is not the case now and we have to stop making silly mistakes because we are getting punished.”
After a tentative start, Needham’s defensive frailties were highlighted for the first time after 16 minutes as a simple ball down the left channel released Leon Smith into the area, only for the striker to be denied by the alert Shaun Phillips who saved smartly at his feet.
The hosts failed to heed the warning and were punished just two minutes later when the visitors broke the deadlock.
Again it was the lively Smith’s movement that caused the problem as he raced on to a simple long punt over the static home defence before slotting the ball under the onrushing Phillips.
Smith and his strike partner Aaron Morgan were proving a real handful for the Marketmen defenders and the latter almost doubled the advantage after 22 minutes as his curling left-footed effort whistled narrowly wide from the edge of the area.
It continued to be one way traffic throughout the first half as Needham struggled to get hold of the ball as Hendon dictated much of the play.
Morgan drilled a low shot across the face of the goal after racing clear again on the left hand side in the 29th minute before Smith out-muscled Chris Hogg into the area but could only fire a powerful left-footed effort wide just four minutes later.
However, their endeavours were finally rewarded after 36 minutes as the visitors were gifted a second goal by an awful defensive mistake from the hosts.
A defensive mix up between Hogg and central defensive partner Joe Whight saw the former’s attempted pass fall kindly for the alert Morgan to step in and slot the ball past the unfortunate Phillpis at the second attempt.
That setback finally appeared to jolt the home side into action as they ended the half strongly and began to look dangerous on the ball.
A sweeping move down the left flank saw them create their first opening after 38 minutes as Newson’s probing run and cross found Luke Ingram whose near post volley called visiting custodian Joe Whight into action to tip the effort round the post.
The home side carried that momentum over into the second half and dictated the early stages.
A quick counter attack saw Karl Duguid release substitute Regan Pelling but the young striker’s effort was easily saved before Pelling again called Wright into action from long distance shortly after.
However, the visitors soon got back in the ascendency and retook control of the match as they went in search of third goal.
They had chances to do so on two occasions before the 65th minute as Morgan lashed his left-footed effort wildly over, before Scott Shulton saw a low driven effort cannon off the post.
However, Shulton was not to be denied after 72 minutes as Hendon finally put the result beyond any doubt.
With time and space afforded to him on the edge of the Needham area, the midfielder took full advantage, arrowing a drilled effort beyond the reach of Phillips and into the bottom left corner
With just minutes remaining, Ollie Fenn tested Wright at the other end with a good header but the goalkeeper saved well to keep his clean sheet intact and wrap up a comfortable afternoon for the visitors.