Confidence is flowing for Needham Market after firing six past Romford to go back top of Ryman League Division One North on Saturday.
The Marketmen face a tough trip to a Brightlingsea Regent outfit on the periphery of the play-off picture tomorrow (3pm), but Mark Morsley’s men do so top of the pile after rivals AFC Sudbury held former leaders Harlow Town to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Ollie Fenn (suspended), Chris Hogg (knee) and Steve Holder (suspected hernia) will all be out, but Morsley believes his side go to Regent as one of the most feared in the division.
“Our goal difference is good and we still have by far the best defensive record in the league, so we are in a good place,” said Morsley. “We’ve got a tough test at Brightlingsea on Saturday and then we go to Brentwood the week after.
“We may think we’ve got a tough run coming up, but those teams will be worried about facing us.”
Needham were well on top for the majority of their 6-2 defeat of Romford on Saturday and first seriously troubled visiting custodian Aaron Omand in the ninth minute.
Sam Nunn’s long ball was headed down by Sam Newson into the path of Luke Ingram, who exchanged a one-two with Newson before sending a left-footed drive towards the bottom right corner that was brilliantly pushed round the post by Omand at full stretch.
Ingram was denied by Omand again when he latched on to Michael Brothers’ flick, drove into the space created by Ian Westlake’s dummy run and saw his low effort blocked.
Newson curled a shot just over the bar from long range before Romford created their only chance of the first half and nearly took the lead.
Needham switched off at a free-kick and Loui Hazelwood slid the ball left to Besfort Sadiku, whose cross was met by a glancing blow from the head of Nick Reynolds six yards out, but deflected wide.
Any hope Romford may have had of using that moment as a springboard to push on were quickly dashed when the Marketmen took the lead.
Romford thought they had cleared Brothers’ long throw sufficiently, but Westlake returned the ball with interest and Fenn had too much time to control it and coolly dispatch the opening goal.
Abs Seymour flashed a drive wide as the away team attempted to respond immediately, but instead Newson marked his 200th appearance with his 116th goal to put his side firmly in charge two minutes before the break.
Darryl Coakley’s low inswinging corner from the right was turned across goal and in by Newson at the near post and the two were involved in Needham’s third on the stroke of half-time.
Newson could not make the connection required to turn Brothers’ delivery goalwards, but Coakley swept in at the far post to mop up and send his side into the interval full of smiles.
The goals continued to flow during the second 45 minutes and started when Nunn showed great desire to get in front of his man and glance home Luke Ingram’s left-wing corner in the 59th minute.
Kem Izzet converted a penalty for the fifth after Robbie Norris bundled Westlake over in the box less than a minute later, before Nathan Cooper looped in a consolation header that barely drew a smile on the centre-half’s face.
However, there was suddenly a little more urgency from the struggling visitors when Needham switched off at another free-kick and Jack Barry found the top corner after he was played into space.
The Marketmen, who had withdrawn centre-halves Nunn and Fenn, appeared rattled and a series of corners threatened to turn a couple of late consolation strikes into something far more serious.
Shaun Phillips superbly tipped over Barry’s header before substitute Solomon Akinshade nodded over from close range.
However, the Bloomfields crowd let out a collective sigh of relief when Newson got clear on the right and sent over a low cross for substitute Adam Mills to tuck home Needham’s sixth late on.
“I thought we were brilliant in the first half on a very difficult pitch,” added Morsley. “I don’t think you can say world class in non-League football, but we were outstanding.”
n Needham’s academy are holding two open coaching events this month — one in Ipswich (February 17) and one in Colchester (February 18).
Log on to www.needham marketfc.co.uk for further details