A topsy-turvy 13 goal thriller ends in a thrilling 2nd league victory of the season for Needham Market Under-23s.
In a game, fittingly played a day after Halloween and 5 days from Bonfire Night, that saw the lead change hands a few times during the course of a goal frenzy encounter.
Nonetheless, the victory was important for the bottom side, with it taking them now just a point behind Debenham LC, who sit directly above them.
The young Marketmen won a corner after just 20 seconds on the clock, although Mo Igwebuike could only head the set-piece wide of the top near right hand corner.
Sure enough, the young Reds deservedly broke the deadlock after 9 minutes, Dimitri Gayle threaded Seth Chambers through free down the left-hand side of the box, one on one with the onrushing Betts, where the forward clinically sidefooted his first of the night into the bottom far corner, 1-0 Needham.
Bouyed by the goal, the home side had two great chances in the space of a minute, the first saw Dimitri Gayle threaded through in acres of space down the left-hand side of the box, the winger smartly cut inside well only for his low tame shot to be comfortably gathered by Betts on 15 minutes.
Shortly after though, the young Marketmen had the ball in the net for the second time - albeit ruled off by an offside flag. Great play saw Igwebuike thread Gayle through down the left-hand side of the Ards' penalty area, though the winger was dispossessed by a defender the ball fell to Seth Chambers, who had came from an offside position. The striker picked up possession before laying the ball off to Igwebuike who, in acres of space on the edge of the box, smashed a low shot into the middle of the net via a deflection off Ollie Sims.
In response, Cornard took advantage as the visitors duly equalised on 17 minutes, Charlie Lindoe was set through one on one with goalkeeper Finlay Shorten before finishing well for his fifth goal of the season into the bottom corner, 1-1.
Needham meanwhile looked to hit back a minute later, as Taylor Clark latched onto the loose ball on the left-hand edge of the box, but for his shot to be deflected behind the near corner for a goal-kick.
Up the other end on 23 minutes, Cornard glanced a dangerous left wing corner just wide of the top right-hand corner from close range at the far post, although the away side did take the lead a minute later, despite two brilliant saves from Finlay Shorten.
After captain Michael Brothers' fierce 30-yard shot, out on the right-hand side, was beaten away well by a flying save from Shorten at his top near corner, the follow up fell to a Blue shirt whose equally fierce shot towards Shorten's top right-hand corner was again palmed away by a terrific quick reaction stop from Shorten, albeit Scott Slotts was on hand to head home from point blank range, 1-2 Cornard.
The latest twist then arrived in the 26th minute when the away side were awarded a penalty, up stepped Scott Slotts, who beat just beat Shorten from the spot, who guessed right, as he placed a good spot-kick into the bottom right hand corner to make it 1-3.
The young Marketmen however went agonisingly close to reducing the deficit in the 31st minute, captain Seth Chambers was threaded through in space on the right-hand side of the box, one on one with Betts, though his shot was smothered well by the onrushing Betts, which fell to the arriving Ollie Fraser outside the box, whose shot went just wide of the vacant top left-hand corner.
Three minutes later, Igwebuike tried his luck at goal once more, only this time the midfielder - who found space on the edge of the box - curled his shot narrowly over the top left hand corner.
Down the other end meanwhile, Jake Phillips threaded Ben Stannard through into space down the right wing, the latter then smartly squared a dangerous ball across to goalscorer Slotts who arguably missed a golden opportunity, as his shot went over the bar from point blank range after 37 minutes.
But with two goals in a minute from Ollie Fraser, the home side quickly restored parity. The winger's first was arguably the best goal of the night, after being found by James Letts just inside his own half the Needham youngster duly exploited space as he drove through the visitors' half. Fraser then unleashed a 30-yard world class strike that ferociously crashed into the net off the underside of the crossbar, 2-3.
Sandwiches between Fraser's quickfire brace though was a great chance for Cornard straight from kick off. Ben Stannard's powerful strike from the right edge of the box forced Fin Shorten to fly up and tip the ball over his crossbar.
The young Reds then broke quickly from the resulting corner, drawing back on level terms just before the break. Seth Chambers was threaded through brilliantly into acres of space down the left wing, the striker then drove through smartly before squaring the ball across on a plate, beating the diving Betts, providing Fraser, who was arriving at the back post, a tap in from five yards out, wiping out Cornard's lead in the process with his third goal of the campaign of the Under-23s.
Five minutes after the restart, Shorten was forced into action, beating away a fierce shot from the left-hand side of box down at his near post.
Cornard though regained their lead on 57 minutes, a left wing free-kick was inadvertently headed back across the six yard box by Igwebuike, with Slotts on hand to fire home his third goal of the night, and 28th already for the season, from close range, 3-4.
Their advantage though lasted just four minutes as Needham equalised for the second time, Seth Chambers joined his teammate Fraser on a brace after latching onto a brilliant through-ball from Clayton Osborn down the right-hand side, the striker then broke into the box and finished, in a carbon copy of his first goal, smartly through the onrushing 'keeper's legs into the bottom far corner, 4-4.
If that wasn't enough, Dimitri Gayle latched onto a fantastic long ball from Shorten down the left wing before picking out an unmarked Taylor Clark with a good ball into the penalty area, but the midfielder's low shot from a tight angle was well saved by the diving Betts, smothering the ball away at his near post after 65 minutes.
Sixty seconds later, captain fantastic Seth Chambers completed his hat-trick to give Needham the lead for the second time of the night, just five minutes after scoring his side's equaliser. Ollie Fraser cleverly lifted a long ball over the top, releasing Chambers past the defence and racing through on goal down the centre, drawing Betts off his line before cooly slotting home into the bottom far corner, 5-4 Needham.
It was almost 6-4 to the hosts on 68 minutes, Taylor Clark exploited large pockets of space to drive through the Cornard half unopposed, but to see his 30-yard fierce shot blocked.
Sure enough, three minutes later, the hosts were rewarded with their sixth goal of the night, Dimitri Gayle got in on the act with his 3rd goal of the season for the Under-23s, opening a two goal lead for his side in the process. After being found by Taylor Clark, the winger found space down the left-hand side of the box to finish brilliantly low across goal, 6-4.
In response, goalscorer Charlie Lindoe whipped a dangerous ball into Shorten's six yard box, which the Needham shot-stopper advanced off his line well to vitally claim possession.
Still the hosts weren't satisfied, Igwebuike lifted a great ball over the top to release Chambers free in acres of space down the left wing, this time rounding the advancing Betts but for his shot from a tight angle to be cleared by a well placed defender, keeping the scoreline at 6-4 after 77 minutes.
A great chance went begging for Cornard four minutes later, Slotts couldn't quite add to his tally of three goals for the night, heading a right wing cross narrowly wide of the bottom far corner from close range.
The woodwork then spared Clayton Osborn's blushes sixty seconds later, a great low dangerous ball into the six yard box saw Osborn try to pass the ball back to goalkeeper Shorten, who was relieved to see the ball rebound off the front base of the near post with Shorten gladly gathering the loose ball.
Then came another flurry of goals with Man Of The Match Seth Chambers wrapping up his side's victory, while also notching his fifth goal of the night in doing so. James Letts'right wing cross picked out the forward, who was unmarked as he ghosted in at the far post to nod home into the bottom left hand corner from close range, 7-4 Needham.
The Needham captain quickly added his side's eighth goal in ruthless fashion, Dimitri Gayle threaded the forward through down the left wing with a terrific defence splitting pass, just inside the visitors' half. Chambers again drew Betts off his line before rounding the 'keeper to slot home from a tight angle into the vacant net.
But with the last noteable action of a thrilling encounter, which was well worth the £5 admission fee, Cornard added a late consolation with their fifth goal, in the first minute of stoppage time. Slotts slotted home, his fourth goal of the night by confidently sending Shorten the wrong way from the penalty spot, into the bottom right hand corner for his sixth goal for the Under-23s of the season.
The young Marketmen now have a week's break before their next game, due to Needham First Team's club history making Emirates FA Cup tie at League One Burton Albion on Saturday, with a trip to higher league Premier Division side Kirkley + Pakefield in the 3rd Round of the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Challenge Cup (7:45pm). Meanwhile, the Under-18s are in home action on Thursday (3rd November, 7:45pm), when they welcome Woodbridge Town in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Youth League Central Division.
Needham Market U23:-
1 Finlay Shorten
2 Clayton Osborn
3 Brandon Greenleaf (56' Exworth)
4 Mahmoud (Mo) Igwebuike
5 Sam Leslie
16 Ben Smith
7 Ollie Fraser
8 James Letts
9 Seth Chambers (c)
10 Taylor Clark
11 Dimitri Gayle
12 Travis Buxton
14 Eddie Barker
15 Ed Barker
17 Archie Exworth
GK Lawrence Robinson
1 Michael Betts
27 Michael Brothers (c)
3 Ollie Sims
4 Craig Hughes
5 Lee Townrow (78' Tucker)
21 Ben Stannard
30 Charlie Lindoe
29 Scott Slotts
9 Pete Mania (HT' Howlett)
10 George Day
28 Jake Phillips (63' Graham)
22 Alex Taylor
11 Christian Walsh
17 Connor Tucker
6 Charlie Howlett
7 Jack Graham
Booked: Brothers (31'), Letts (74').
Needham Assists: Gayle (9', 86'), Letts (45', 84'), Chambers (45'+1'), Osborn (61'), Fraser (66'), Clark (71').
Goals: Chambers (9', 61', 66', 84', 86'), Fraser (45', 45'+1), Gayle (71'); Lindoe (17'), Slotts (24', 27'pen, 57', 90'+1'pen).