Saturday's local football round-up: Needham Market and Walsham-le-Willows up to 4th while Stowmarket Town and Ely City share the points as Halstead Town fail to take full advantage
Needham Market - who hit national headlines in the week for their withdrawal from the Buildbase FA Trophy - rose to a season high fourth in the Evo-Stik League South Premier Division Central with a 4-1 win over basement side Bedworth United.
It was the second home win in four days at Bloomfields, following the 3-1 victory Redditch United on Tuesday, to thrust Richard Wilkins' side into a play-off spot for Christmas.
A Joe Marsden penalty sent the Marketmen into the break 1-0 up before Adam Mills continued his rich vein of form in front of goal shortly after play resumed.
J'Cee Abraham replied soon after to make it 2-1 in the 49th minute, but James Baker and Marsden, for his second, both hit the net inside the last 20 minutes to complete a convincing scoreline against opposition they had beaten 4-0 in the opening game of the season.
Next up for Wilkins' side is a Boxing Day derby at mid-table Leiston (1pm).
Walsham-le-Willows bounced back from a 4-0 defeat at Woodbridge Town last weekend in perfect fashion, winning 4-0 at Long Melford to hit the top four in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division in time for Christmas.
George Bugg, who has had a long injury lay-off which prevented him continuing an early hot streak in front of goal, got the ball rolling with the opener before The Willows' leading marskman, Jack Brame, doubled their advantage.
Ryan Twinn claimed the third while a Sam Peters free-kick flew into the top corner to complete a fine afternoon for Trevor Newman's side and ensure Melford's winless run moves onto nine games, following an encouraging 2-2 draw at Wroxham previously.
With title-chasing Histon's game at FC Clacton postponed due to the wet weather, Stowmarket Town were unable to take full advantage as they had to settle for a point in a 2-2 home draw with a rejuvenated Ely City.
The visiting Robins had picked up 10 points from their last 12 to put a 10-game winless streak firmly to bed heading into the fixture, while Stow were in fine form themselves as they looked to extend a 10 game unbeaten run.
Rick Andrew's hosting side had announced yesterday they had signed defender Robbie Linford from Bostik League North Division basement side Dereham Town, and he went straight into the starting line-up at Greens Meadow.
It was Ely who got their noses in front in the 13th minute with Alex Batten converting Joshua Lowe's cross at the back post.
But Stow drew level by the break courtesy of Remi Garrett's fine shot on the turn just before the half-an-hour mark.
An own goal gifted the hosts the lead five minutes after the re-start. But Steve Holder made it six goals in six appearances since his move from lower-leauge Diss Town to get Ely back on level terms five minutes later.
Both sides went close to a winner as Sam Nunn cleared off the line for the Robins before the home faithful were almost celebrating as Leon Ottley-Gooch fired in a late effort that ended up going just wide.
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It leaves Stowmarket in third place, three points behind new leaders Godmanchester Rovers, who won 2-0 at Thetford Town. Histon, in second, are only a point off the summit and two ahead of Stow, but do hold three games in hand on Goddy and five on Stow.
The defeat was Thetford's third in a row and extends their winless run to four to leave Danny White's side still in 16th and still eight points above the relegation zone.
Haverhill Rovers dropped a place to 11th after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat at home to basement side Great Yarmouth Town.
The visitors were awarded an early penalty but Aaron Sanders' kick thumped back off the post.
But debutant Harry Draper soon put them ahead before Rovers were staring down the barrell of defeat with Joe Glover doubling their advantage early in the second half.
Harry England was credited with the goal which gave the home fans at The New Croft hope. And it continued right until the end despite a second Yarmouth being saved by James Young, with Rovers having to play out the remainder of the game with 10 men after Alfie Carroll sent off for the incident.
The visitors were able to see out the 2-1 win, meaning they have now won back-to-back games in the division to draw level on points with second-from-bottom Framlingham Town, who lost a seven-goal thriller 4-3 at mid-table Whitton United.
Incredibly, all the goals came in the second half with Framlingham coming from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 before Jamie Cole and Josh Hitter both scored to seal the three points.
Hadleigh United were unable to capitalise on Framlingham's defeat as they lost 3-2 at Kirkley & Pakefield to leave them still a place and four points above the relegation zone.
Again, all the goals came in the second period with the home side going ahead before Kyle Cassell levelled on the hour mark.
Three minutes later Brett Crisp put Hadleigh into the lead only for two goals in the last 10 minutes (80' and 87') deny the Brettsiders any of the points.
Newmarket Town (9th) bounced back from last weekend's disappointing defeat to Great Yarmouth Town with a 3-2 home win over fourth-placed Wroxham.
A Jack Watson left-footed finish sent the Jockeys into the break with a 1-0 advantage.
Shaun Avis' header and a Jack Whiting curling effort from the edge of the penalty area had them in a comfortable 3-0 lead, but they almost blew it as Joe Clark and Chris Skipper set up a tense finish.
In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South, promotion-chasing Halstead Town failed to take full advantage of leaders White Ensign going down to a shock 4-0 defeat at home to Harwich & Parkeston as they could only come away from mid-table Wormley Rovers with a point in a 1-1 draw.
Mark McLean's side, who had been defeated by a last-minute goal at home to White Ensign last weekend, again coceded late on, via an own goal, after Callum Vincent had put them into an early lead.
With second place Hashtag United winning 3-0 at Brightlingsea Regent Reserves, it leaves the Humbugs five points off the summit in third and four behind Hashtag, having all played the same amount of games.
In the First Division North, AFC Sudbury Reserves (9th) came from 3-1 down to win 5-3 in a thrilling game at their King's Marsh base, to make it three straight victories for Danny Laws' side.
But elsewhere in the division bottom side Needham Market Reserves were on the end of a 5-3 scoreline at Ipswich Wanderers while Debenham LC lost 4-0 at Mulbarton Wanderers and Lakenheath went down 4-1 at Swaffham Town.
* Follow the Boxing Day action as our Bostik League teams return to action via @russclaydon (AFC Sudbury v Mildenhall Town) and @liamapicella (Soham Town Rangers v Bury Town).