The Marketmen start the festive season with a win and go fourth!!
By Paul Munn
Comfortable result in the end, but were made to work hard for it.
The final league game at Bloomfields this year saw the Marketmen take on the bottom side, who haven’t won a game all season. Could they sign off the year well and give the fans some festive cheer?
With 5 games in the next two weeks Needham made a couple of changes to suggest that this was in mind. Joseph Marsden dropped back to right back as Jake Dye took a place on the bench. As did Samuel Squire who was replaced by Jeremiah Kamanzi.
Like most in the game know that these encounters can be tricky affairs as expectations tend to run high. This was no exception, with Needham less than convincing during the early stages of the game. Bedworth played their part in this and caused some anxious moments for the home side. It was indeed the visitors who had the first effort when their number 10 James Hancocks shot was deflected wide.
Needham, however did manage to have a couple of early strikes, firstly through a Adam Mills shot which went harmlessly wide and then a Gareth Heath shot that was well blocked by the visiting defence.
Just after the 10 minute mark Bedworth decided to enter into the festive spirit and give Needham a gift. Having being awarded a free kick on the left Gareth Heath played it into the box, not one of his finest however, but a defender attempting to clear it sliced it and was heading towards the top of the net until the ‘bah humbug’ Bedworth keeper James Martin tipped it over.
Needham had begun to get into their stride more, they were passing the ball around more confidently but they just couldn’t quite always find that final ball to convert the possession into scoring chances.
They did however think they may have found a way through when after a good move Adam Mills crossed it in towards James Bake, however the officials had other ideas and signalled for a foul before he could tuck it away.
Shortly afterwards Needham came forward and Gareth Heath set up Luke Ingram to cross, it was a decent effort but it just eluded everyone.
Bedworth were still fighting and still creating a few problems for the home side. They broke well on the half hour mark with their number 4, Elliot Parrott, he fed 10, James Handcocks who saw his effort go passed the wrong side of the post.
Needham replied with a move involving Jeremiah Kamanzi and Keiran Morphew to set up Luke Ingram. On receiving the ball his raced into the area and shot, but he only found the side netting on this occasion.
With just under ten minutes of the half remaining Luke Ingram got the ball in the Bedworth half and decided to run at defence and take on a couple of defenders. He got passed the first but the second one stopped him by tripping him in the box. Penalty to the Marketmen, up stepped Joseph Marsden who slotted it, as usual, into the corner of the net. 1-0 NMFC.
A minute or so later Gareth Heath played a short free kick to Callum Sturgess on the left, who drilled it into the area hoping that the on-coming Marketmen attackers would get a foot on it, alas the foot that got to it belonged to a Bedworth defender to clear it.
Bedworth nearly got on terms when a Needham defender lost his man from a long ball, their number 9 had a chance, but the defender recovered well to block the shot. Shortly after Bedworth had another half chance with a flick from a cross, but it sailed over the bar.
On the stroke of half time Jake Jessup pumped a long ball forward which Luke Ingram collected, he in turn passed to Reece Dobson allowing him to shoot, but his effort went wide of the target.
Half Time: Needham Market 1 vs Bedworth United 0
The start of the second half saw a change in goal for Bedworth. Having taken a knock in the first half James Martin was replaced by Adam Harrison.
By contrast to the first the second started briskly. With the half just a mere two minutes old Needham came forward and gave the ball to Luke Ingram on the right. He got to the by-line and pulled it back, James Baker knowing or got a shout left it for Adam Mills, who controlled it, pick his spot and drilled it passed the keeper. 2-0 NMFC.
Moments later the Marketmen could have had another when, once more, Luke Ingram played the provider to set up Gareth Heath, but he was denied by a good block.
Bedworth needed something quickly to remain in the game. They got it a minute later when a misunderstanding in the Needham defence allowed a long ball to find their right back J’Cee Abrahams with time and space to run on and slot it into the bottom corner. 2-1 NMFC.
Needham responded moments later with a Gareth Heath effort, having received the ball he ran on and tried the chip, but Bedworth were alert and got it out for a corner.
The visitors made their second change just before the hour mark and the substitute, Jake Whitmore nearly made an instant impact when set up a chance for Handcocks to cross the ball in, he did so pretty well and it needed the timely intervention of Dan Morphew’s head to clear the danger.
It wasn't long after that the visitors had another opportunity when number 8, Barry Fitzharris gained the ball and found room for a shot, luckily for the Marketmen he couldn’t keep it down and it sailed over.
Bedworth were pressing more and for some in the stands, as well as the dugout were voicing their opinion on that the Marketmen were beginning to sit a little too deep thus inviting pressure.
Around the hour mark a whistle for a foul had stopped play and it was at this time the referee decided to hand out some cards, for Needham Keiran Morphew and Callum Sturgess were the recipients, although they were not the seasonal ones people give out this time of year.
The first change by Needham saw Reece Dobson making way for Jake Dye, in what can be said was a tactical change to stem the flow. This allowed Jake to take up his normal position, with Joseph Marsden pushing up to right wing and Luke Ingram slotting into the number 10 role.
This did have the expected effect, as the Marketmen began to come forward once more. Good play from James Baker and Luke Ingram gave Callum Sturgess a chance to take on a defender and cross. He did that, only for a well-timed block stopping it from reaching its target. Moments later it was Luke Ingram who had the chance to create something with a good run, but the shot went just passed the post.
With fifteen minutes to go he was involved again in a Needham attack, running down the right he put a cross trying to pick out the oncoming player. Realising the danger the keeper tried to get it away, unfortunately for him he didn’t quite deal with it as he wanted and it was picked up by Adam Mills on the left, who had time to dink it across for James Baker to stab it home from close range. 3-1 NMFC.
This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Bedworth, although they had bits and pieces after that, they were not as threatening as they had been throughout the afternoon.
Soon after the goal and the upcoming games in their minds the Marketmen took off Luke Ingram and replaced him with Tariq Issa.
The Marketmen continued to be on top for the remainder of the game and created some few chances, notably when Adam Mills tried to place
it passed the keeper after being set up by Jeremiah Kamanzi, alas it was not on target this time.
Jamie Griffiths got a few minutes of game time when he came on for Adam Mills. He did get involved in a move which saw him provide Joseph Marsden with a ball, which played a nice one-two with Gareth Heath to set up a shot, but this too went the wrong side of the post.
With game into its added time Needham were awarded a free kick 25 yards out. Joseph Marsden took it but it was blocked, he picked up the rebound and decided to cut across the pitch to look for an opening. He did find one and calmly took aim and fired a drive from 20 yards, passed the diving keeper, into the bottom corner. 4-1 NMFC.
In the end it was a comfortable result for the Marketmen. They were made to work for it, although the performance was not as some expected against the bottom team, but again like Tuesday it showed that the team has become stronger all round. Testament of all the hard work the players and management have put in so far this season.
Full Time: Needham Market 4 vs Bedworth United 1
Just leaves me to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you……………