RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: Needham Market 2 AFC Sudbury 0: Only nine points from their remaining three games will be enough to get Needham Market into the play-offs — according to their manager.
Mark Morsley hailed a ‘great solid performance’ after they comfortably racked up their sixth straight victory on Tuesday, tasting even more sweeter for being at the expense of rivals AFC Sudbury.
But with third-placed Harlow Town visiting Bloomfields tomorrow (3pm), followed by a trip to Soham Town Rangers (ninth) on Easter Monday (3pm) to come before Chatham Town (12th) visit next Saturday (3pm), to conclude their regular season, Needham’s chief says they need three more repeats of Tuesday.
“It has got to be three wins and see what happens,” he said after a 16th-minute volley from Ryan Crisp had sent them on their way against AFC before Kem Izzet dispatched from the penalty spot 11 minutes from time. “I don’t see Heybridge, Thurrock and Harlow dropping more than two or three points.
“At the end of the day, we have got to get nine points on the board.”
But should they get there, midfielder Dave Cowley would be suspended for both games, as well as the Chatham match, having been sent off for kicking out after being pushed into the railings at Tilbury.
That 17th-minute incident on Saturday left Needham needing to dig deep with a late first-half header from Crisp added to late on in the second half when Izzet put away a penalty after Michael Brothers had been fouled for a wormanlike 2-0 victory.
On Tuesday, an unchanged team burst out of the blocks with Chris Hogg headers from corners twice drawing saves in the opening two minutes.
The half effectively boiled down to a personal duel between AFC goalkeeper Alex Archer and striker Crisp.
But after saving from a one-on-one and then beating him to a long ball, Archer was finally beaten by an acrobatic scissor kick which gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at half-time, only not stretched further by Archer’s fine saves.
The second half saw Needham pass up a glut of chances with Izzet, Brothers and substitute Sam Newson having the biggest blushes, before Izzet put away his second penalty in four days, after Cowley’s cross had been handled by Jordan Blackwell.
Needham: Plummer 7, Fenn (c) 7, Coakley 7, MORPHEW 8, Hogg 8, Nunn 7, Ingram 7, Izzet 7, Crisp 8 (Newson 65 7), Brothers 7, Cowley 8. Unsed subs: Malton, Heath, Charles. Attendance: 329.