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JAMES LETTS' MAIDEN FIRST TEAM GOAL MAKES IT THREE WINS FROM THREE GAMES FOR THE MARKETMEN

Needham Market continue their pre-season campaign with their third win in as many games with a 1-0 win at home to Isthmian North side Felixstowe & Walton United at Bloomfields.



With Tevan Allen, Jake Dye, Luke Ingram, Kyle Hammond all unavailable and Taylor Clark and Reece Harris rested, Kevin Horlock's side opened their home pre-season campaign in somewhat windy conditions.



In a game that saw two good footballing teams pass the ball around well, clear cut chances were arguably at a premium in a competitive encounter, with the Marketmen handing a maiden First Team debut from the start for Academy defender Clayton Osborn, who started at right-back, with centre-back/right-back Ben Smith also earning his first senior team appearance as a half-time substitute. Summer signings Tommy Smith and Jamie Smith also made their home debuts.



A well worked, early second half, goal following great link-up play between Academy midfielders Flynn Crosthwaite and James Letts was ultimately the difference between two good sides.



Felixstowe had the first half chance of the afternoon after 48 seconds, the visitors' number 7 having a shot blocked from the edge of the box.



Despite both teams missing a few players, there was plenty of good football played, with Felixstowe's Jack Ainsley finding space to shoot, on the left-hand side of the box, but his fierce shot was well caught by Marcus Garnham, positioned well at his top near corner, after 3 minutes.


A minute later, Ford was fed through one on one with Garnham, following a defence splitting pass, but the Needham stopper advanced off his line well to catch.


Needham on the other hand went close in the sixth minute, good play saw Jacob Lay feed Callum Page whose spin saw the latter thread a great low through-ball to the right wing, releasing debutant Clayton Osborn who found space to drive a great low ball across the face of goal, albeit nobody was around as the ball flashed a centimetre wide of the bottom far corner. 


A good save from Garnham again thwarted Felixstowe from taking an early lead after 9 minutes, Ford was released through one on one past the home defence, but again Garnham rushed off his line well to dive and smother the shot expertly.


Josh Hitter then drove into space onto the right-hand edge of the box, two minutes later, but his fierce 30-yard strike was hit low and comfortably held by Garnham.


With the game remaining an even encounter throughout, Jamie Smith held up possession well, in the 21st minute, prior to feeding Callum Page, the forward then weaved into space from 25-yards out but fired his shot over Robinson's crossbar.


Two minutes later, Jacob Lay drove through smartly down the right wing, where his byline cross in across the face of goal hung dangerously, requiring Robinson to claim the ball well on his line. 


At the other end, Garnham was again called into action on 24 minutes, this time catching a low shot across goal from the left-hand edge of the box, diving across well to his left-hand side.



A good tackle from Dan Morphew then saw Ford fire a 20-yard half-volley, on the rebound, over the crossbar on 27 minutes, while great link-up play between Clayton Osborn and Jacob Lay almost created a good opportunity for the Marketmen six minutes later. A peach of a ball further down the right wing fed Jacob Lay through into space, the latter held the ball up well before finding Osborn, who was just joining the attack, the young defender then looked to thread in a teammate in midfield but the low pass was cut out. 


The Marketmen then went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on 35 minutes, after a brilliantly timed tackle from Ollie Fraser - midway through the Seasider's half - saw the winger break through with 2 defenders and the keeper to beat, the recent England Schoolboys U18's international, and Needham Academy winger, then drove through into space to shoot whose low 18-yard strike just passed the bottom right-hand corner. 


Callum Harrison meanwhile drove into space, three minutes later, but the attacking midfielder's shot, which sneaked ferociously towards goal from 35-yards out, dipped just over the top far left-hand corner, before the away side were again fed into space - this time from 25-yards out on 39 minutes - but the 25-yard shot went narrowly over the crossbar. 


While Ford broke onto the edge of the box, only to fire over the bar on 41 minutes, the home side saw Callum Page's fierce shot from outside the box deflected wide for a corner after good link-up play a minute later. 


More good play from the Marketmen saw the Southern League Central Premier Division side have a good chance on 43 minutes, Dylan Williams weaved into the centre, following the aforementioned corner, before setting Ollie Fraser through inside the box whose low shot was blocked by a combination of two Felixstowe defenders before they cleared their lines. 


A minute later, Fraser was then fed through well out on the left wing, whose audacious hanging byline cross, again across the face of goal, flashed by with nobody around to take advantage.


Felixstowe meanwhile had the final action of the first half, as Howell's free-kick from the right0hand edge of the box curled sumptuously just wide of the top near corner as both teams went into the interval deadlocked at 0-0.


As always in pre-season, both teams made changes, with Ben Smith introduced for his Firat Team debut, while Flynn Crosthwaite, Seth Cahmbers and Jamie McGrath (who returned from an injury that saw him miss the final 2 months of last season on Tuesday) also came on.


Just seven minutes after the interval, a great piece of play saw Needham break the deadlock with what proved to be the match-winner with two Academy midfielders involved, Flynn Crosthwaite was found in his right-back position before driving through down the centre before slotting James Letts into space just ahead of the Seasider's defence, the latter then exploited space to drive through and onto the left-hand side of the box prior to calmly finishing past Robinson into the bottom left-hand corner, for his maiden First Team goal in his third appearance, 1-0 Needham.


The home side then went close again on 58 minutes, Callum Page threaded Jacob Lay into space on the left wing whose ferocious ball forced a Felixstowe defender to put it not too far wide of his own near post for a corner, while Seth Chambers stung the hands of Felicstowe 'keeper Robinson 3 minutes later. The striker found space on the right-hand side, from roughly 30-yards out, before unleashing a ferocious shot towards the top far corner, which Robinson was on hand to beat away. 


Felixstowe then broke up the other end seconds later as Garnham again smothered a shot well at his right-hand post. 


Callum Page meanwhile won back possesion brilliantly just in Felixstowe's half, on 62 minutes, before threading Seth Chambers into space well onto the right-hand of the box, where the striker's low ball squared across the six yard box needed the Felixstowe number 12 to put it behind for a corner with Jamie McGrath around hunting a tap in. 


Harrison on the other hand was teed up on the edge of the box but fired his shot over the bar after 63 minutes, who then again fired over the top right-hand corner from 30-yards out three minutes later.


Despite Needham arguably taking the best chance of the afternoon in clinical fashion, both teams continued to look a threat, with Joe Whight seeing a powerful shot from the right-hand side bounce out off the underside of the crossbar, while Flynn Crosthwaite did well to hold off Charlie Warren down the left-hand corridor of the penalty area, whose eventual low ball across the area was pounced on by the diving Garnham. on 78 minutes.


The away side then rifled a fierce shot from the right-hand side of the box just over the top near corner two minutes later, before goalscorer Letts - who notably scored in the U18s' Suffolk Midweek Cup Final at Colchester United in May - drove into space from 30-yards out before seeing a low fierce strike towards the bottom far corner well held by the diving Robinson on 81 minutes.


Felixstowe though went close to grabbing a draw on 83 minutes, first a low fiercely driven Charlie Warren shot on the edge of the box crashed back in off the front base of the left-hand post, while the rebound shot on the left-hand side of the box flashed just wide of the bottom far corner moments later. 


Dan Morphew then blocked a shot well from the left-hand side on 90 minutes, prior to Ford drawing a good catch from Garnham with the last action of the game a minute later. The forward's free-kick from the edge of the box finding Garnham well placed at his top left-hand corner to comfortably hold onto the ball.


The Marketmen host Thurlow Nunn First Division North side, and Suffolk Senior Cup winners, Framlingham Town (7:30pm) on Tuesday in the Suffolk Champions Charity Cup Final, ahead of higher league Braintree Town travelling to Bloomfields on Saturday (2pm).



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