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Needham Market pick up their first away win of 2024 in a battling performance at Halesowen Town.

Manager Kevin Horlock made one change to the 4-0 home win over Kettering Town, Ipswich Town loanee Nico Valentine made his first start for the Marketmen in place of Callum Page.

Needham had to weather the storm for the first 10 or so minutes, as Richard Gregory broke through on goal after 19 seconds, but the stretching Marcus Garnham stuck out his right foot to kick the shot clear to safety.

Tommy Smith then deflected a shot wide with a great heroic block, while Keiran Morphew blocked a shot on the right-hand side of the box off the line smartly in the 3rd minute.

Gregory then a shot free in the box, looking to be on target towards the bottom left-hand corner, well blocked by Jake Dye on 7 minutes, while Needham had their first real chance on 10 minutes.

Jamie McGrath held the ball up well before feeding Nico Valentine through into the box, on the right-hand byline, a tackle though saw the ball fall to Jacob Lay on the edge of the box whose dipping shot appeared to be deflected just over, albeit a goalkick was given.

Halesowen fired a shot comfortably way over Garnham's goal on 14 minutes, while Ingram saw a shot on the turn wide of the bottom right-hand corner two minutes later.

Needham continued to grow into the game as the half went on, though it was the hosts who had the next opportunity on 32 minutes. Jack Holmes weaved through into the box but failed to hit the target, shooting comfortably wide of the bottom left-hand corner.

At the other end, Ingram weaved smartly into space 30-yards out on the right-hand side, but fired his low shot straight at the goalkeeper on 34 minutes.

The Marketmen, wearing their yellow away kit, broke forward smartly six minutes later, clever play saw Nico Valentine thread Ingram before being clattered.

The latter then clipped a great ball over the top through to Tevan Allen, through onto the right-hand side of the box, whose first angled shot was blocked by the side of the defender, who then blocked Allen's rebound strike.

Jamie McGrath then rose well at the far post to keep Tevan Allen's dangerous left wing freekick in play, heading it back to the unmarked Nico Valentine whose first volley in acres of space was blocked by one of a sea of blue, with the second one meeting the same result on 43 minutes.

The second half was a more scrappy affair, with real goalmouth opportunities more so at a premium.

Again though the hosts started the brighter, the Yeltz broke free close to the near post but again the shot was well smothered by Garnham, with Needham MOTM Keiran Morphew on hand to smack clear just after the restart.

Smart play down the other end saw a good back-heel from Luke Ingram thread Valentine free down the right wing, the young winger raced through smartly to the byline before cutting inside dangerously close to goal, albeit his low cutback was cleared on 52 minutes.

Keiran Morphew blocked a shot brilliantly on 64 minutes, while Jacob Lay kept the ball superbly out on the left wing, albeit his eventual cross was caught by the goalkeeper six minutes later.

Keiran Morphew then bravely blocked a shot, from point blank range, on the edge of the box after 73 minutes, Nico Valentine and Jamie McGrath were then withdrawn for Dylan Williams and Seth Chambers, before a mistake saw Tommy Smith well placed to bravely block a shot, while the rebound angled effort went off target on 80 minutes.

Five minutes later, a right wing cross found Yeltz substitute Okafor free in the box whose looping header, creeping under the bar, was routinely gathered by Garnham.

Needham though found the breakthrough on 87 minutes, Tevan Allen's exquisite left wing corner was looped on superbly by the near post head of Luke Ingram, Platt though was able to make a good save but only as far as the arriving Dan Morphew to head home from point blank range.

Emmanuel Okunowo, another Ipswich Town loanee, was introduced for his Needham debut in place of Luke Ingram as Needham recorded an important 3 points.


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