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GOALLESS DRAW SEES MARKETMEN EXTEND LEAD AT THE TOP


Needham Market extend their lead at the top of the Southern League Central Premier Division to give points after a goalless draw at relegation threatened Long Eaton United.


The Marketmen were without captain Keiran Morphew (hamstring), while Adam Mills started in place of Jacob Lay. Dylan Williams also started with Jake Dye and Kyle Hammond dropping into centre back and right back, with MOTM Dan Morphew taking on captain's duties. Ollie Fraser was again on the bench.


The Marketmen went close with the first chance of the afternoon in the 2nd minute, Luke Ingram threaded Seth Chambers through on goal from 18-yards out, whose half-volleyed shot went just over.


Chambers then tested Ross Durrant nine minutes later, the forward weaved smartly into space but saw his shot, from the edge of the box, well held by the keeper at head height.

Kyle Hammond was next to try his luck at goal for the league leaders, weaving into space outside the box before curling a powerful shot over on 13 minutes.


At the other end, Garnham was drawn into a routine save two minutes later, the shot-stopper diving low to his right-hand side to comfortably hold onto a shot.


Needham went agonisingly close on 22 minutes, Adam Mills flicked a great ball over the defender for Tommy Smith to latch onto on the left wing overlap, whose audacious half volleyed cross was sliced over off the top of the bar by George Atwal for a corner.


The away side though were dealt a blow when defender Jake Dye was forced off due to injury a minute later, though Needham continued to create good chances with the next falling to the visitors in the 26th minute, Tevan Allen lofted a great right wing corner into Luke Ingram whose 8-yard header looped over the bar.


Great passing play from the Marketmen almost created the breakthrough on 38 minutes, Jacob Lay retained possession well, resetting the attack by feeding Dan Morphew. The captain fed Tommy Smith, who in turn fed Adam Mills whose superb cross in picked out Chambers who did well to stretch to get on the end of the cross, but could only shoot over from close range.


Dylan Williams went close to giving the Marketmen the lead a minute later, as the midfielder thundered a 25-yard shot towards goal, albeit just wide of the top right hand corner.


After the restart, the Marketmen looked to up the intensity and pressure on the hosts' goal but to no avail, a left wing cross in found Ingram two yards out at the near post, whose shot was beaten away as far as Jamie McGrath whose close range effort was blocked on 49 minutes.


Jacob Lay then worked space to shoot on the edge of the box, a minute later, his blocked shot fell to Chambers who earned his team a corner.


The striker then went close to breaking the deadlock on 53 minutes, leaping highest from close range to latch onto a great left wing cross, but could only glance his header just wide of the bottom far corner.


Ingram was next to try and test keeper Ross Durrant, though his great low shot on the edge of the box was well held by the keeper at his bottom right hand corner on 55 minutes.


At the other end however, a right wing cross found a man free at the far post whose shot was cleared off the line well by the well placed Tommy Smith, while Allen at the other end saw a ferocious shot blocked on the edge of the box a minute later.


The chances continued to come and go for the visitors, Allen kept possession well before finding Kyle Hammond, the midfielder threaded Ingram free down the right hand side, whose cross-shot from a tight angle went just wide of the top left corner on 58 minutes.


Allen continued to be influential for the away side in the 62nd minute, the latter swung in a great right wing cross for McGrath, leaping highest, but the striker couldn't quite keep his header down, looping narrowly over.


McGrath then drove through smartly into the box, but fires his shot agonisingly wide from close range two minutes later, while great linkup play saw McGrath back-heel the ball to Ingram to tee up Lay. The latter then shot first time, but wide of the near post on 69 minutes.

Morphew meanwhile towered highest to head a deep freekick just wide of the far, right-hand, post a minute later, before more great play saw Chambers first to a through ball out on the left wing, the forward ran round his marker smartly to drive into the box, only for his cutback to be deflected comfortably to Durrant on 72 minutes.


Allen's latest great right wing corner, in the 76th minute, found McGrath tower highest whose header went just over.


Needham then made their second change, introducing Byron Lawrence, for his first appearance since going off injured against Ipswich Town Under-18s, in place of Dylan Williams.


The woodwork thwarted the Marketmen a late winner in the 86th minute, as Morphew's thunderous shot, on the edge of the box, clattered back into play off the face of the right hand post, with Ingram on the rebound unable to keep his shot down.


The hosts though had the last shot of the afternoon, thundering a long range shot wide of the top left hand corner on 89 minutes, signalling the end of a goalless draw.


Needham host Barwell on Saturday (16th, 3pm).


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