Needham Market 2
Richard Wilkins has ruled out getting frustrated about Needham Market’s bad luck with injuries this season.
The Marketmen’s boss watched his patched-up side usher in 2018 with a 5-2 defeat to his former club Leiston, at Bloomfields on New Year’s Day, a result which ended their five-match unbeaten run in the Bostik League Premier Division.
Despite the defeat, which came after play-off chasers Leiston struck three times after Dan Morphew had equalised from the penalty spot to make it 2-2, Wilkins was quick to applaud his side’s efforts.
“I can’t take way from the players the effort they put in,” said the Needham boss, who takes his side to Harrow Borough tomorrow (3pm), and then Margate on Tuesday (7.45pm).
“I just think mentally they were tired today, especially as the game went on and we conceded some soft goals.
“The way things have gone this season, more often than not we’ve been four or five players short, but you get seasons like that.
“I can only praise the players who went out there that weren’t 100 per cent fit, nowhere near, they were more like 70 per cent, and I could tell they were struggling to push through the 90 minutes.”
Sam Nunn, Jamie Griffiths and Callum Harrison all missed Needham’s first outing of the year, but Wilkins is hopeful of having the latter two back for this weekend.
However, recent signing Curtley Williams could be a doubt after coming off with a knock in the Suffolk derby, while Gareth Heath, Keiran Morphew, Jake Dye and Luke Ingram, who all played 90 minutes on Monday, were all expected to receive treatment during training last night.
After Saturday’s 1-1 draw away at Wingate & Finchley helped stretch their unbeaten run to five games, the Marketmen made the perfect start in a bid to keep their hot streak going on Monday when Ingram opened the scoring after just four minutes.
Leiston replied late on in the first half with goals from Chris Henderson and Matt Blake to go into the break leading 2-1, before Dan Morphew’s penalty put the home side back on level terms on 52 minutes.
However, Leiston scored soon after the re-start through Patrick Brothers to regain their lead, with Christy Finch and Jack Ainsley both then finding the target to end Needham’s unbeaten run.
Wilkins handed a debut in the second half to new signing Jeremiah Kamanzi. The midfielder, who started the season at AFC Sudbury, has joined from Premier Division rivals Thurrock.
Needham Market: Bradbrook, Dye, Coakley, Williams (Henry 62), K Morphew, D Morphew, Ingram, Heath, Schaar (Kamanzi 53), Sands, Mills. Subs not used: Simmons, Gibbs, Munson. Booked: Williams, Heath, Henry. Attendance: 513.