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MARKETMEN RETURN TO WINNING WAYS IN COMFORTABLE FASHION

Needham Market returned to winning ways, after a first defeat in eleven matches at Hitchin Town on Good Friday.


Kevin Horlock's side, who go eleven points clear of Mickleover - who play tomorrow, made one change to last weekend's trip to Bromsgrove with Adam Mills starting in place of Seth Chambers - who started on the bench.


In truth, the first half was an even affair in terms of possession, albeit the Marketmen had the better chances.


Hitchin however saw a far post free header from a seventh minute corner headed off the line by captain Keiran Morphew, while the rebound shot was also headed off the line by the defender.


The Marketmen then created their first chance of the afternoon a minute later, Jacob Lay was threaded free four yards out on the left, but shot tamely at captain Charlie Horlock for a comfortable gather.


The half began lively, but then settled down more as the half went on, a Hitchin right wing cross found a free header loop towards goal, albeit Marcus Garnham was on hand to make an easy catch at head height on 10 minutes.


Jacob Lay then drove into space, ten minutes later at the other end, but the midfielder's shot was fired low and wide of the bottom left-hand corner.


The Marketmen went close to breaking the deadlock on 27 minutes, a great ball released Luke Ingram one on one with goalkeeper Horlock, but the latter couldn't get enough on his point blank range effort as it went behind for a goal-kick.


Horlock meanwhile denied the Marketmen four minutes later, another great long ball over the top released Jacob Lay through onto the right-hand side of the box, the latter's right angled low shot though was comfortably held by the shot-stopper.


The Canaries though saw a right wing corner pick out a free header at the back post, but the effort across the face of goal was smacked clear on 33 minutes.


Garnham was then on hand to dive across and beat away a dipping dangerous left wing free-kick, at his far post two minutes later, before Needham went close again in the 40th minute.


Tevan Allen's dangerous right wing free-kick, by the corner flag, was floated in dangerously towards Jamie McGrath a yard out in the centre, the forward though went down after a challenge, although Adam Mills was there at the far post whose header went agonisingly just over.


Great patient, but excellent, passing from Needham on 43 minutes saw Horlock again forced into a save, albeit routine, Allen found Mills free just outside the box whose first time strike towards the top near corner was well dealt with by Horlock.


After the restart, the Marketmen started the brighter, looking to find a quick breakthrough. Tevan Allen saw a fierce 47th minute free-kick blocked, while the midfielder saw a thunderous volley blocked, by ex-professional Steve Gleeson from McGrath's audacious cross a minute later.


The Marketmen did find the breakthrough on 49 minutes, smart play saw Tevan Allen's right wing cross find Adam Mills free at the far post to lash home his first goal since his return to the club, low into the net.


While Ingram saw a 54th minute header from an Allen corner deflected behind, the latter tried his luck at goal twice more sixty seconds apart.


The first, in the 59th minute, saw Allen fed into space on the right-hand edge of the box whose powerful low shot at goal was deflected narrowly wide of the bottom left-hand, far, corner. From the corner, Adam Mills' sumptuous cross back in found Allen free at the left-hand, far, post, though his tight angled effort was denied by the face of the crossbar.


Finley Wilkinson however arguably should've hit the target, directing a cross to the far post wide at a tight angle, from close range on 64 minutes, before Needham were awarded a penalty three minutes later.


Substitute Seth Chambers had only been on the pitch no more than half a minute when Jamie McGrath set him into the box before being sliced down by a defender. Up-stepped Luke Ingram, after the two minute delay, to confidently send Horlock diving to his left as he smashed home, low down the middle.


Needham did have the ball in the net on 83 minutes, but Ollie Fraser was adjudged to be in an offside position as he deflected in Luke Ingram's fierce shot at goal - following a corner.

Needham host 19th placed AFC Sudbury in a Suffolk Derby on Easter Monday (1pm).



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