The Marketmen suffer loss against play-off place rivals!!
By Paul Munn
Two late first half goals and one early in the second seals the defeat, but are still well in contention for the play-offs
To be or not to be was the question ahead of the Marketmen’s visit to Shakespeare’s country to do battle in their fight for an Evo Stik South Premier Central play-off place. They had to start the game without the two suspended duo Samuel Squire ad Adam Mills. This meant a start for Jeremiah Kamanzi with Joseph Marsden taking up the left wing duties. The bench saw a place for Regan Palling, on his return to the club.
Stratford started the game the better and were first to threaten. In the first sixty seconds Wilson Carvalho, who went on to have a good game, drifted in from the left and fired in a strong shot which needed good reactions from Jake Jessup to save and then react quickly to gather the rebound.
Needham tried to find their stride with a good early run by Luke Ingram and an inventive free kick that allowed Joseph Marsden some space but his attempted cross was blocked.
The hosts for most part had gained the upper hand in the middle of the park, which allowed their two full backs to press on and cause problems for the Needham defence. Both played some decent balls throughout the course of the half, which helped set up some opportunities. The best coming midway through the half when after some good passing play that gave Ross Oulton an opportunity to shoot but he fired it wide.
However the Marketmen did battle to ensure Stratford didn’t have it all their own way. They did create chances of their own with Jamie Griffiths just heading over from a Gareth Heath corner and good run by Joseph Marsden from his own half, which ended with his shot going wide of the target.
It was in fact Needham who came closest to opening the scoring with two good chances. On twenty-five minutes Reece Dobson had the first chance after a break by Luke Ingram, who played a good ball in to find Reece just outside the area, he controlled it well and shot but he was denied a goal by an excellent save by Stratford’s keeper Ross Etheridge, who pushed it round the post. A few minutes later a chance fell to Luke Ingram, a good ball from the middle of the park put him through on goal, as he closed in on striking range of the target a defender managed to get back to snuff out the danger.
Meanwhile the hosts were still probing with some patient build up play. Their midfield linked up well to provide half chances firstly for Nabil Shariff, who just couldn’t quite get on the end of a cross which was gathered up by Jake Jessup. A couple of minutes later William Carvalho was fed by Ross Oulton and went on a jinking run, luckily for the Marketmen his sights on the final shot were off as the ball sailed over.
With five minutes of the half remaining Needham tried to clear their lines after another Stratford long pass out to the right. Let’s say it was not dealt with particularly well and a sliced clearance from a back pass fell to Albi Skendi who drove into the Needham’s defence before releasing Nabil Shariif in the inside right channel, who found the space to slot the ball passed Jake Jessup. 1-0 STFC.
On the stroke of half time Stratford pressed forward with a good break, Albi Skendi provided Nabil Sheriff with a chance to put the ball across, but the Marketmen had sensed the danger and got it behind for the corner. However the resulting Ross Oulton corner was not dealt with well as it evaded the Needham keeper and defence presenting Jordan Williams with a simple header at the far post, which he duly put away. 2-0 STFC.
The Marketmen tried to snatch something back before the break, when a deep cross to the far post found Jamie Griffiths, but alas his flick only managed to hit the side netting.
Half Time: Stratford Town 2 vs Needham Market 0
The second half saw much of the same from both sides. Stratford continued to press and had a couple of early corners which the Marketmen defence had to be alert to. However it was Needham who were the first to create a chance in this half. A Jeremiah Kamanzi free kick found Reece Dobson out wide, he put in a decent cross that found the head of Joseph Marsden, who headed goal wards only for him to be denied by a good save by Ross Etheridge.
Stratford then really settled the game on fifty-six minutes, having previously had a couple of opportunities to put balls in from the flanks, Wilson Carvalho then made room on the left to allow him to put in a telling cross to the far post where he found Nabil Shariff waiting, he had the time and space to head home from close range. 3-0 STFC.
With the home side having a comfortable lead they continued to manage the game passing the ball around well. They were the first to make a change when Will Grocott replaced Ross Oulton. A few minutes later they made another change with Chris Cox being replaced by Felipe Barcelos. They continued to keep the Marketmen up to their work, and created a couple of half chances, the best being a good interchange between Nabil Shariff and Albi Skendi, that ended with a flick from the former that required a decent stop from Jake Jessup.
The Marketmen, to their credit did keep plugging away looking for a way back. They made a couple of changes midway through the half, one was by design and hoping that this might bring a change in fortune, when Jamie Griffiths made way for Dan Morphew allowing James Baker to move up front. The other change unfortunately was down to an injury. Jake Dye who took a knock earlier in the game couldn’t continue any longer and was replaced by Regan Pelling. Regan took up the left wing birth whilst Joseph Marsden slipped into Jake’s right back role.
To an extent the changes did make a bit of a difference as the Marketmen had a little spell where they pressured the home defence. A long ball from Jake Jessup was well controlled by James Baker, who in turn found Reece Dobson, he played it out wide to Regan Pelling. He put in a decent cross but the home defence manged to clear it before the on-coming Marketmen attackers could turn it in.
Twelve minutes from time, the Marketmen went forward and the ball founds its way to Luke Ingram inside the box, as he tried to find room for the shot he went down whilst being challenged. The home defender was adjudged to have pulled him back and Needham were given a penalty. Joseph Marsden stepped up, after the home side made their final change, and you know what happened next…he emphatically slotted the ball into the bottom corner. 3-1 STFC.
This opened up the game a little bit with the Marketmen sensing they might have an outside chance of getting something out of this. Callum Sturgess came forward more and made the Stratford keeper work with a decent cross.
Stratford on their part tried to stub out any potential Marketmen comeback and did have a chance late on to extend their lead when Nabil Shariff, seeking his hat-trick burst through but Dan Morphew got in a great tackle to deny him a scoring opportunity
Unfortunately the Marketmen were unable to produce a dramatic comeback, but were very unlucky at the death not to get a second when from a Gareth Heath corner Keiran Morphew saw his header bounce back of the post and cleared to safety.
So, the points go to Stratford, who remain in a strong position for the play-offs with the Marketmen dropping to eighth place, but still well in contention for a play-off place. Fair to say that it wasn’t the Marketmen’s day with us making a few slips and missing a few chances, but whilst many will be unhappy with this result I guess like many of us football fans, we will quickly move on and will turn up at the next game to cheer the lads on………
Full Time: Stratford Town 3 vs Needham Market 1
Stratford Town: Etheridge, Cox (Barcelos 68), Isaac, Fry, McAteer, Williams, Wilson, Skendi (Williams 78), Shariff, Oulton (Grocott 62), Carvalho
Needham Market: Jessup, Dye (Pelling 72), Sturgess, Kamanzi, Morphew (K), Baker, Ingram, Heath, Griffiths (Morphew (D) 69), Dobson (Abrahams 85), Marsden