Disappointing day at the office for the Marketmen!!
By Paul Munn
The Marketmen’s play-off quest suffers a setback as St Neots grab the points..
With a run of four home games out of the next five the Marketmen were looking to boost their play-off hopes against struggling St Neots. Back came Samuel Squire and Adam Mills from their respective suspensions and Joseph Marsden stepped into the right back role in place of the injured Jake Dye. Dan Morphew returned to centre half allowing James Baker to revert to his centre forward role.
It would be fair to say that the first half wasn’t a great affair, with the home side looking a bit lack lustre throughout and unable to break down the visitors. St Neots, after a couple of early half chances, also did not seriously threaten the Needham goal.
The St Neots early chances fell to Jordon Norville-Williams and Gary Wharton, who both put efforts wide and would go on to have contrasting afternoons. The later would have his one cut short due to injury and was replaced by Prince Mutswunguma midway through the half. Whilst Jordon became a threat down the left giving the Marketmen defence a lot to think about.
For the Marketmen it seemed as though they could not quite find the right gear, although they put together a few half decent moves together but were mostly unable to build on them to turn them into real clear cut chances. James Baker linked up with Reece Dobson to provide Callum Sturgess an opportunity to put a cross in, with Joseph Marsden and Adam Mills doing the same. On both occasions the covering defender was able to block the cross at the expense of corners.
Samuel Squire back from suspension worked hard early on to try to get things going in midfield. He linked up well with Gareth Heath on two separate occasions allowing Gareth Heath chances to get balls into the danger zone, unfortunately for the Marketmen they were cleared away by the St Neots defence.
Probably the first real half chance for the Marketmen came from a corner taken by Gareth Heath. Initially it was cleared but the loose ball was put back in by Gareth Heath, which found its way to Luke Ingram who put his effort wide.
St Neots also had bits and pieces with Matty Miles putting in a couple of decent balls but nothing came of them as they were cleared by the Marketmen. They however did become the first to have a player cautioned when Scott Sinclair was booked for a foul he committed. The card score was level 3 minutes when Reece Dobson was cautioned for something.
The first real chance for the Marketmen came from move involving Samuel Squire who played the ball out wide to Adam Mills, finding space he put a decent ball in which was only half cleared allowing Luke Ingram the chance to get to the ball and send it goal wards, but the St Neots keeper Finley Iron saved it and got it over the bar at the second attempt.
With the half entering its final minutes the Marketmen put together a patient move in midfield and then releasing Callum Sturgess on the overlap. He forged his way into the area and took a shot, but it was blocked and cleared away. Moments later Adam Mills had a similar opportunity but he couldn’t find the direction he wanted and sent it wide.
Just before the interval St Neots had to make another substitution through injury. Scott Sinclair had to leave the field and was replaced by Jacob Joseph. Having only three on the bench at the start their options were limited.
Half Time: Needham Market 0 vs St Neots Town 0
The second half could have started badly for the Marketmen when only a couple of minutes in St Neots should have opened the scoring. When they put together a move down the left which produced a perfect ball for sub Prince Mutswunguma, who was unmarked in the area, and looking odds on to score but somehow he managed to put his shot wide. A let off for the Marketmen.
The Marketmen did respond, firstly from some good build play by Dan Morphew and Samuel Squire allowing Callum Sturgess the chance to cross which was well blocked. Following shortly afterwards Reece Dobson played a ball through the defence for Adam Mills to run onto, unfortunately his finish did not have the power to trouble the keeper who gathered the ball easily.
St Neots came close moments later when a Matty Miles long throw reached Jordon Norville-Williams at the far post, but he put his effort wide.
However St Neots did break the deadlock soon afterwards, when on 54 minutes Matty Miles delivered another long throw, front the right, into the Marketmen’s box. It was only half cleared by the Marketmen’s defence and it fell to St Neots skipper Russell Short, who seized the moment to take it on the half volley and blast it passed the Jake Jessup into the back of the net. 1-0 SNTFC.
Could the Marketmen respond? They did come close however following a good run by Reece Dobson who the found Callum Sturgess who had made his way forward. He forged his way into the area and took a shot, but unfortunately it went into the side netting. The Marketmen made their first and only change of the afternoon when Reece Dobson made way for Jamie Griffiths.
It was not until the after they went behind that the Marketmen started to go through the gears and went on to dominate the last 20 or so minutes. Their tempo upped considerably with the whole team getting to the ball and using it more quickly allowing them the opportunity to create more openings in search of the equaliser.
With the Marketmen's dominance growing it allowed both full backs, Joseph Marsden and Callum Sturgess, time get forward to support the attack. An example of this came after some good link up play between Gareth Heath and the two full backs to give Adam Mills the ball out wide, who got in a decent ball only for it to be cleared away. As was a similar effort from Jamie Griffiths a couple of minutes later. The Cambridgeshire side constantly thwarted the Marketmen’s efforts with some brave St Neots defending with their back line repeatedly getting just enough on the ball to deny the Marketmen.
The Marketmen continued to push on with a great run and a long pass out of defence by Keiran Morphew which found Adam Mills on the left wing. He in turn floated a good ball to the far post where Luke Ingram was lurking. He tried to get the ball on target but was unable to and it went over the bar.
Luke Ingram had a better chance soon afterwards when a break forward by the Marketmen found James Baker 20 yards from goal. He saw Luke was free and played him in. Luke ran on, into the right hand side of the box and took a shot. Alas he couldn’t keep it down and blasted his effort over the top.
With just under 10 minutes left the referee stopped the game for a foul and proceeded to march over to the Needham bench to chat to Nathan Munson, not sure what it was about but from the gestures they seemed to disagree about something. Once they both had their say the game continued.
St Neots did manage to come forward occasionally to relieve a bit of pressure. They tended to use Jordon Norville-Williams, who was a constant threat down the left and James Hall who worked hard to hold the ball up for other to run on to. But on the whole the Marketmen defence dealt well with these attacks well.
On one such break he came up against Keiran Morphew. As they battled for the ball Jordon went over and the referee gave a foul. He also gave a yellow card to Keiran for the challenge. Jordon himself took the resulting free kick 20 yards out, but his range was out and it sailed over the top.
The Marketmen then went up the other end with Gareth Heath linking with Adam Mills and Jamie Griffiths. The later found space to put over a decent cross, which once more a St Neots defender got a head to, but it only went as far as Joseph Marsden. Was this the moment? Alas no was the answer with Joseph’s effort going harmlessly high and wide.
Another Joseph Marsden effort moments later ended in the same result, when he battled to win the ball back and cut inside to shoot from just outside the area.
The Marketmen did get the ball in the net in the closing minutes to the delight of the Needham supporters, but the whistle had already gone for a foul on the goalkeeper, turning delight into disappointment. On another day things could have been completely different.
The final effort for the Marketmen feel to Luke Ingram after he got to a Joseph Marsden cross, but this time there was not going to be any late drama as he was denied by a good save from the St Neots keeper.
Despite the valiant efforts of the Marketmen attack in the second half St Neots held on to grab the 3 valuable points.
Even after the final whistle Needham woes grew, as Keiran Morphew was given a second yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct, which I believe will rule him out of the Kettering game next week.
The Marketmen will be ruing the missed opportunity of not building on their quest for a play-off berth. A poor first half and some missed chances ultimately cost us the game. So frustrating for all, players, the management team and supporters alike. No doubt things have been said and done to move on from this and get us back fighting for one of them play-off berths. Roll on Tuesday and let’s go again………..
Full Time: Needham Market 0 vs St Neots Town 1
Needham Market: Jessop: Marsden, Sturgess, Squire, Morphew (K), Morphew (D), Ingram, Heath, Baker, Dobson (Griffiths 66), Mills
St Neots Town: Iron, Miles, Herd, Wood, Short, Parr, Sinclair (Joseph 45+2), Newell, Hall, Wharton (Mutswunguma 26), Norville-Williams