The Marketmen get back on track with a win!!
By Paul Munn
With strikes in each half and surviving a late scare the Marketmen get the job done..
After the defeat in Boxing Day derby the Marketmen traveled to Hitchin’s Top Field to try and get back on the winning track. They made one change from the Boxing Day game that saw Jeremiah Kamanzi replace Luke Ingram in the number 10 shirt. There was a good turn out with 380 opting to watch the game and take advantage of a mild December afternoon.
The match itself started brightly for Hitchin Town who enjoyed a large percentage of possession in the opening minutes, with lots of play coming down the left through their new player Moses Olanrewaju. He did also manage a shot but it was high and wide of the target.
Needham had only bit and pieces early on with a couple of crosses by Joseph Marsden being the main threats. These were however dealt with comfortably by the home defence.
The hosts created the first real chance when a long throw, by loanee Alfie Cue, to the six yard box was only cleared as far as Jay Dowie, he struck his shot well but could find the direction sending it wide of the post. A couple of minutes later he had a second opportunity after a decent move, but again he pulled his shot wide,
Needham’s first chance fell to Joseph Marsden soon afterwards when a Callum Sturgess cross, which was left by James Baker came to him, but his shot though on target lacked power and was easily gathered by the keeper.
Hitchin responded with a move that ended with a shot by Michael Cain, which Jake Jessup was equal to and he followed up by saving the rebound at the expense of a corner. Another move by the hosts allowed Hitchin’s Captain Daniel Webb to have a crack, but his volley was deflected behind.
Needham did gradually get into the game more with the midfield began to get to grips with the task, making erodes into the opposition half. The Marketmen began to put together some good moves. The best of which was a move down the left which ended forcing the host’s keeper, Michael Johnson, into a smart save when he pushed away a James Baker header. This lead to a succession of corners, unfortunately the Marketmen could not produce anything from them.
By the half hour mark the pendulum had swung into Needham’s favour as they pressed forward in search of the lead. This in fact came just after the half hour, through a good move opening up the Hitchin defence giving Adam Mills time to find James Baker, who in turn slide the ball across to Gareth Heath to apply the finishing touch. He did so as he stroked it into the bottom corner to put the Marketmen ahead. 1-0 NMFC – 31 Mins.
The Marketmen did have another opportunity to increase their lead not long after when a half cleared free kick fell to Joseph Marsden, however he sent his effort wide of the post.
In the final minutes of the half the match, in truth, did became a bit untidy with neither side able to move the ball well enough to create any meaningful chances.
Half Time: Hitchin Town 0 vs Needham Market 1
The hosts started the second half in the similar fashion to the first and within a minute of the restart they thought they had good case for a penalty, when Ezra Forde went down in the box after a challenge. However the man in the middle decided play should continue much to the annoyance of the home team and their supporters.
Hitchin continued to press trying to find the chance to draw level, but the Marketmen defence were having none of it and stood firm dealing with everything that was thrown their way. The two Marketmen centre halves, Dan Morphew and Keiran Morphew both put in a good performance.
The Marketmen, as they did in the first half, got themselves back into the affair and began to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Just over the hour mark they attacked well down the left and a Gareth Heath cross forced the defence to concede a corner. It was swung in by Callum Sturgess and wasn’t dealt with at all well by the home defence, allowing it to fall to Joseph Marsden inside the six yard box, where he applied the finishing touch to tuck it into the back of the net. 2-0 NMFC – 63 Mins.
They continue to press and a pass by Adam Mills gave Jeremiah the chance to run at the defence and put a cross in, but this occasion the defender got something on it to put it behind.
Hitchin tried to respond but didn’t quite get it together in the final third, with an attempt by Josh Bickerstaff that went over the bar being their best effort.
Both teams went about making changes for their respective reasons in the next few minutes. Hitchin brought on Matt Nolan for Moses Olanrewaju with the Marketmen swapping James Baker for Jamie Griffiths and then soon afterwards Adam Mills made way for Reece Dobson.
It was Needham who remained reasonably in control of the game despite it becoming a scrappy during the following 10 minutes or so, with neither able to muster up any meaningful chances.
As the game entered its final 10 minutes Joseph Marsden signed off his day, before becoming Needham’s third and final change, with a great shot. Having received the ball from Callum Sturgess he found room to shoot but the host’s keeper, Michael Johnson, pulled out a good stop to turn it around the post. Joseph Marsden was then replaced by Luke Ingram.
The host’s keeper was also called into action a couple of minutes later, when some good play by Jake Dye saw him feed substitute Jamie Griffiths to put him through on goal. He ran on and shot but the keeper was alert and equal to it, saving well to his left.
In the final couple of minutes of normal time both sides had a couple of half chances. First it was Hitchin who put together a move that ended with an Alfie Cue shot going harmlessly wide. This was shortly followed by Marketmen’s Reece Dobson who tried his luck but couldn’t quite get his shot on target.
With the match deep into injury time Hitchin came forward once more and managed to force a corner. This was swung into the box and this time it was the Marketmen defence who didn’t deal with it very well, allowing it to fall to Lewis Ferrell on the far post, he made no mistake as he tucked it away from 6 yards. 2-1 NMFC – 90+4 Mins.
This lead to a few nervous seconds at the end for the Marketmen, but they saw the game out. This workman like performance sees the Marketmen go sixth in the league. Level on points with four other teams and with other teams only two or three points behind Needham we could see a good battle for play-off places in the coming weeks.
Full Time: Hitchin Town 1 vs Needham Market 2
Hitchin Town: Johnson, Mensah, Chesmain, Dowie, Webb, Ferrell, Cain (Belgrove 70), Bickerstaff, Forde, Olanrewaju (Nolan 65), Cue
Needham Market: Jessup, Dye, Sturgess, Squire, Morphew (K), Morphew (D), Marsden (Ingram 83), Heath, Baker (Griffiths 70), Kamanzi, Mills (Dobson 76)