Vital point, big goal and major milestone for Marketmen’s targetman Sands

DELIGHTED: John Sands is congratulated by his team mates after netting his 250th career goal

Needham Market’s John Sands has reached a major milestone in his footballing career, as he found the net for the 250th time in his side’s 1-1 away draw at Staines Town on Saturday.

But the 31-year-old is not content to stick at 250, setting a target of 450 goals before he turns 40, as he continues to enjoy participating in the sport.

He hopes to take his strong form into Saturday’s Bostik League Premier Division home game against second-placed Margate (3pm) as the Needham look to extend their unbeaten run to six.

It is a meeting Sands acknowledges is ‘like a cup final’ as Needham search for vital points to climb out of danger in the league — as they lie just six points off the bottom spot.

He said: “Every game is like a cup final for us now with the position we’re in.

“That helps us in some ways, because we know every game is a big one so we prepare for that but Margate will be a difficult team to play.

“I think they’re definitely beatable though.

“The Staines game was also a tough one so I’m really happy to get the record in that game.

“I’m also really pleased that my goal helped the team secure an important point.

“I even scored the winner but it was ruled offside unfortunately.

“I spent the first five months of this season out injured but have been making up for the lost time since it seems.

“I think there’s even more to come from me, I’m feeling so confident I can score goals and I want to keep playing until I’m at least 40 — if I stay fit, this is achievable. So my new target is 450 goals before I turn 40. Let’s see.”

Needham had found themselves a goal down against Staines after just 19 minutes, courtesy of a Mohamed Bettamer seffort, but fought hard to get back on terms.

Manager Richard Wilkins was forced into a half-time substitution, with injured full-back Callum Sturgess being replaced by Sam Nunn — with some re-organisation of the back line.

It didn’t seem to do the side much harm, however, as Sands, who filled in as centre-back due to the injury problems among the Marketmen’s defenders, found a close-range equaliser in the 48th minute after a diagonal ball from Adam Mills.

Needham, despite being on the back foot for a lot of the game, pushed forward and ended the game positively while also securing a point.

Their next game was at home to basement side Burgess Hill Town on Tuesday night, but a waterlogged pitch forced the tie to be postponed for a second time.

• Meanwhile, the semi-final draw for the Omni Freight Services Ltd Suffolk Premier Cup has handed holders Needham Market a derby clash with lower-league Bury Town, to be played at AFC Sudbury’s King’s Marsh Stadium on Wednesday, March 14.

• The club has also been shortlisted for a chance to win £50,000 by Buildbase, sponsors of the FA Trophy and FA Vase, towards their renovation plans for a 3G training pitch.

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