DIVISION ONE NORTH
Needham Market 2 Grays Athletic 1
by Sam Murley at Bloomfields
NEEDHAM Market striker Sam Newson believes no-one at the club will be getting carried away despite a vital 2-1 victory in their top-of-the-table clash over second-placed Grays Athletic at Bloomfields on Saturday.
The in-form striker grabbed his 20th and 21st league goals of the season either side of half-time and although substitute Anthony Ryan pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 75th minute, Newson’s brace proved to be enough as the Marketmen stretched their winning streak in the Ryman League Division One North table to eight matches.
The victory also cemented Needham’s place as league leaders, but despite extending their lead to three points over Grays, Newson refused to get carried away as he remained focused on the task in hand.
“We are absolutely over the moon with the result,” he said.
“However, we have not won anything yet, we beat East Thurrock this time last year and it came back to haunt us.
“It was an important victory, but more for the fact it keeps our winning run going.
“We have a tough Christmas period coming up against top six sides, so all we can do is keep focused and hopefully keep winning games.”
In a predictably tense affair, the visitors went close to breaking the deadlock in fortuitous circumstances in the 22nd minute as the lively Joao Carlos’ attempted cross from the left-hand side tested Andy Plummer’s alertness, forcing the keeper to tip the effort over from under the crossbar.
However, against the run of play, the hosts snatched the lead in controversial fashion just before the break as Duane Wright, taking a quick free-kick from the wrong position, released Newson down the right-hand side and as the Grays defence looked to the referee, the striker kept his cool to race clear and slide the ball under Andrew Hall, giving the home side the advantage going into the interval.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Newson added his and Needham’s second with a magnificent solo effort.
Picking the ball up on the halfway line, the striker drove down the left-hand side, beating Grays defenders Grant Cooper and Craig Pope before curling an unstoppable right foot shot from 25 yards beyond the desperate reach of Hall and into the far top corner.
However, the visitors responded and grabbed a goal back just five minutes later.
Needham allowed Joe Sweeney too much time on the left-hand side and he duly punished them, picking out the run of substitute Ryan, who had the simple task of finishing from all of three yards past the helpless Plummer.
With momentum now behind them, the visitors poured forward in search of arguably a deserved equaliser, but after captain Lee Flynn’s 30-yard piledriver whistled agonisingly over the bar in the final minute, Needham held on to earn a vital three-point advantage at the top of the league.