The Marketmen end Stratford’s unbeaten run!!
By Paul Munn
Despite a late fightback from the visitors, two first half strikes seals the points
Stratford turned up at Bloomfield’s, after negotiating the A14 detours on their long journey, hoping to protect their long unbeaten run. Could the Marketmen bring this run to an end, on what was only their fifth Saturday home game of the season? Following Tuesday’s Premier cup game Gareth Heath, Luke Ingram and Adam Mills returned to the starting XI relegating Jeremiah Kamanzi, Reece Dobson and Tariq Issa to the bench. With Jamie Griffiths also on the bench as well, it was probably one of the strongest bench’s the Marketmen have had this season.
The Marketmen didn’t hang about at the start and were the first to get into gear. They hustled and pressured the visitors and an early mistake let Adam Mills free to run on and put a decent cross in, but the defence regained their composure and cleared it. The two full back were involved early on, Jake Dye and Callum Sturgess both running at the defence and putting in crosses.
The real first attempt on goal came from the Marketmen when a good cross from the right gave Adam Mills the opportunity to try an overhead kick, unfortunately he couldn’t quite keep it down.
Moments later another Marketmen move saw Luke Ingram link up with Jake Dye who provided a good ball in for James Baker, but the keeper was there to gather up the ball.
Stratford then managed to get something going of their own, a good break saw their full back strike a shot that required the defence to block it at the expense of a corner. From which Jake Jessup had to be on his toes to clear the danger.
They continued to get back into it and when a good cross came in with their number 9 lurking at the back post, alarm bells rang but luckily he was just unable to get his head on it. Jake Jessup once again was called into action when a slight defensive error let in their number 7, the ball rebounded to their number 9 who put his resulting shot wide.
The Marketmen responded well with some good link up play. Luke Ingram and Callum Sturgess put together a good move between them allowing the former to test the visiting defence with another decent cross. Stratford came straight back up the other end, but their break was foiled by a great tackle by Keiran Morphew.
The Marketmen pressed again, Adam Mills received the ball out wide and played it to Luke Ingram, who ran on looking for an opening for a shot. None appeared and finally he found Joseph Marsden wide ready to a put a cross into the danger area, alas the cross drifted wide.
Stratford, once more took the ball up field and fathomed a shooting opportunity, which once more Jake Jessup was equal to task.
Midway through the half the Marketmen came forward again, Joseph Marsden fed Luke Ingram out on the right, with time and space he put in a cross that found its way to Adam Mills, just before he was about to pull the trigger a defender got in a block only for it to drop into the path of Gareth Heath, who had no hesitation in slotting it into the back of the net from 18 yards. 1-0 NMFC.
Could Stratford respond? They gained a free kick in the Marketmen’s half shortly afterwards, the delivery was good and the defence were on their toes to get it away for a corner, which was also dealt with well by the defence.
Moments later they created something from a break that allowed their number 7 the chance to shoot, again he found Jake Jessup in good form as he pushed it behind.
Not long after that the Marketmen had a break of their own. Joseph Marsden stole the ball from a sloppy pass and took the ball forward, he played in Adam Mills, who lined up the shot but was unable to prevent it from going over.
With 5 minutes left in the half the Marketmen moved quickly forward with Adam Mills out left, he had Callum Sturgess up in support, playing him in Callum Sturgess was able to get off a shot which was blocked well. Unfortunately for Stratford the ball looped to Luke Ingram just inside the area and he smashed it into the net. 2-0 NMFC.
The Marketmen nearly extended their lead when an Adam Mills/Luke Ingram combination set up a chance for James Baker, but the visiting keeper got it behind for a corner.
With the whistle looming Stratford did have a couple of efforts that were dealt with well by the keeper and defence.
Half Time: Needham Market 2 vs Stratford Town 0
Once again it was the Marketmen who were first in gear at the start of the second half. There was an early chance for Gareth Heath, having made room for the shot and fired, the defender managed to get in the way of it and cleared it.
Stratford plugged on, but it was the Marketmen who created the next couple of chances. The first one fell to Luke Ingram whose shot once again was blocked before it could reach the target. The second chance was the result of a good move involving Gareth Heath and Callum Sturgess, with a shot from the later making the Stratford keeper work.
Stratford did at times have plenty of ball but were unable to make the most of it and were unable to find that final telling ball.
Adam Mills continued to cause the Stratford defence problems, especially when he ran at them. He provided several crosses and opportunities for others to do the same or have shots on goal.
Stratford were the first to make a change, on the hour mark and hoping to get back into the game their skipper was replaced by a more attacking player. A couple of minutes later they made another change that stated their intention to mix it up and try to get forward more.
Before the visitors could try to implement this plan the Marketmen broke forward with Samuel Squire who played it up to James Baker, who held it up well waiting for options to arrive, alas none did so before the defence cleared the ball. It was then the turn of Joseph Marsden to go forward and put in a decent cross, the defence only managed to half clear it as the ball fell to James Baker, who then saw his shot blocked and cleared.
That was the last action of the afternoon for James Baker and must say he did have a good afternoon worked hard, held up the ball well. He was replaced by Reece Dobson.
Stratford got an attack together passing the ball well through midfield, with the final ball a good one that gave a shooting chance to the forward, but it was a Marketmen defender this time that blocked it for a corner.
A couple of minutes later Jake Jessup launched a long kick up field which Adam Mills controlled well and found Reece Dobson, who in turn found Luke Ingram. His shot was well saved and the rebound shot from Adam Mills was put behind by the defence.
As the game entered its final 10 or so minutes Stratford upped the ante, they began to have more possession in the home sides half, passing the ball around well searching for a way back into it. One passage of possession lead to a half chance as another shot was cleared from danger, a second saw Jake Jessup being called into action to stop a decent effort.
The best opportunity for Stratford arose when their number 9 was tripped on the edge of the 18 yard line. The free kick responsibility was given to their left back, who stepped up and blasted it towards goal. It took a little deflection which sent the ball on its path into the back of the Marketmen’s net. 2-1 NMFC.
With their tails up Stratford kept pressing, the Marketman made a change bringing on Tariq Issa for Joseph Marsden to protect what they had. Stratford even brought their keeper forward for a couple of corners late on, but he was unable to unsettle the Marketmen’s defenders.
In the dying seconds Stratford produced a move that saw the ball played out wide where there was time for their player to deliver a cross that both attack and defence sought to get to it. The ball ricocheted of a couple of players before falling into the grateful arms of Jake Jessup.
The whistle came to record a nice home victory for the Marketmen and to bring to an end Stratford’s unbeaten run. After the game it was pointed out that this was the Marketmen’s first victory at home on a Saturday this season!
It was a good solid performance by the Marketmen team, playing well and with purpose throughout. With three difficult ahead in the next two weeks, especially as we look to go even further in the FA Trophy, and never know even get an home tie against a leading National League side, so it’s good to see that we have the squad and depth to cover all eventualities. On to Tuesday night.
Full Time: Needham Market 2 vs Stratford Town 1
Needham Market: Jessop: Dye, Sturgess, Squire, Morphew (K), Morphew (D), Marsden (Issa 90), Heath, Baker (Dobson 75), Ingram, Mills
Subs not used: Kamanzi, Griffiths, Shorten (GK)
Stratford: Walton, Wilson, Morrison, Fry (Richards 60), McAteer, Williams, Isaac (Dias 62), Skendi, Taylor, Grocott, Carvalho
Subs not used: Westwood, Behan (G/K), Fisher