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Marketmen's League Form Crashes To A Halt At Stratford

Stratford Town inflict a first league defeat since the end of August on below par Needham Market with a 4-2 victory at the Arden Garages Stadium.

Manager Kevin Horlock made 2 changes to last Saturday's team which beat Maidstone United 1-0 to reach the First Round Proper of the Emirates FA Cup, Jacob Lay and Hugh Cullum started on the bench with Kaan Bennett, on-loan for Colchester United, and Harry Knights handed their full Needham debuts. 

In truth, the Marketmen started brightly and looked on top until the first goal. 

Luke Ingram looked to create an early chance for the Suffolk side, in what was just their fourth away game so far this season after just 2 minuted. The striker drove through down the left-hand byline to latch onto a good through-ball, but the latter's cutback was cleared. The ball though fell to Jake Dye whose good cross into the six yard box was claimed by the home keeper. 

At the other end, the Bards drew a routine save out of Marcus Garnham two minutes later. A right wing free-kick was swung dangerously to the far left hand post, although the header was straight at Garnham, at his right-hand post. 

Meanwhile, a well taken Kyle Hammond free-kick forced Paul McCone to glance the dangerous set-piece wide of his own far post for a corner after 8 minutes, while the following corner saw a shot deflected wide for another set-piece. 

The visitors, wearing their Yellow away kit, almost caught out home goalkeeper Luke Bell in the 13th minute. A quickly taken free-kick from the halfway line was creeping underneath the 'keeper's crossbar when he claimed the ball well. 

Luke Ingram then went close to breaking the deadlock after 16 minutes, Christian Frimpong lofted a great ball over the top towards Ingram, who leap like a salmon from close range to beat Bell to the ball, only to glance his header just wide of the bottom right hand corner. 

Ross Crane on the other hand weaved through well in midfield, exploiting space smartly before sending Luke Ingram through with a brilliant through-ball down the left hand side but the latter's cutback was blocked. 

Stratford however were certainly the better team at this stage as the Bards headed a dangerous left wing corner just wide of the bottom far corner from point blank range on 25 minutes. 

And a minute later the hosts took the lead, good passing play saw Jack Storer slipped through by a great defence splitting pass down the right hand side, the latter then finished well, smashing the ball past Garnham, who got a hand to it, into the bottom far corner, 1-0. 

Stratford then quickly doubled their lead on the half-hour mark, Andre Wright drove through on goal before rounding Garnham down the right-hand side to slot home into the vacant bottom near corner. 

The result leaves the Marketmen in 12th, despite having 3 games in hand as it stands on the vast majority of teams above them in the league, though the Marketmen had a good chance to pull a goal back on 32 minutes. Ross Crane's dangerous free-kick fell to Tom Fitzgerald, who found Noah Collard, the midfielder then found Kaan Bennett - the winger's deflected shot however was punched away by the goalkeeper. 

Two minutes later, midfielder Tom Fitzgerald found space to shoot, first time from the edge of the box, albeit over the top right-hand corner. 

While Noah Collard's cross, after a driving run, was cleared after 41 minutes, the Marketmen went close a minute later. Great play from the Suffolk side saw Christian Frimpong thread Kyle Hammond through down the right hand side of the box, the full-back in turn squared it across dangerously across to Ross Crane from close range - though the winger hit his first time shot over the crossbar. 

Into the second half, after Daniel Lafferty fired a shot over the top near right-hand corner on 48 minutes, the visitors in turn had a chance just seconds later. Hammond's free-kick on the halfway line was nodded across by Harry Knights at the far post, although Dan Morphew's overhead kick was easily head by goalkeeper Bell. 

The Marketmen though halved the deficit on 54 minutes, Christian Frimpong threaded Ross Crane through smartly down the right wing, the winger then beat the sliding defender well before cutting a great ball across to the arriving Luke Ingram who tapped home his 100th Needham goal from 6-yards out into the bottom far corner, 2-1. 

The visitors' response meanwhile was short lived as Stratford restored their two goal lead a minute later, Jack Storer picked up his second goal of the game as the forward finished off a ball across the box well onto the top corner, 3-1.

At the other end, Needham had a half chance to reduce the deficit back to a single goal again on 63 minutes, but goalscorer Luke Ingram's low half volley on the turn was easily gathered well by Bell.

A stunning save from Marcus Garnham thwarted a fourth Stratford goal 3 minutes later, Storer's dangerous curling free-kick out on the left-hand edge of the box had deflected off the wall on its way towards the top near corner until the Needham stopped flew up to tip it over for a corner. 

Harry Knights then put his body on the line well to deflect a shot from a tight angle behind for a corner on 72 minutes, before Jake Dye fired a good 25-yard strike just wide of the bottom left hand corner ten minutes later.

Stratford however increased their lead after 83 minutes, Wright drove through the visiting defence before slotting home his second of the afternoon into the gaping bottom left hand corner, 4-1. 

Needham though responded straight away, reducing the deficit back to 4-2, substitute Jacob Lay whipped in a great 35-yard cross out on the right hand side, finding fellow substitute Jamie McGrath who leapt above defender McCone to loop the ball home off his shoulder, past the onrushing goalkeeper, into the right-hand corner.

While Stratford fired a shot over the bar on 88 minutes, Ross Crane saw a dangerous ball across the six yard box palmed away by the diving Bell a minute into stoppage time.  

With the last chance of the afternoon two minutes later, McGrath went close to grabbing another goal back for the Marketmen, the striker was fed through into the box only to see his low shot well saved by Bell, diving to his left. 

The Marketmen will look for a quick reaction when they make the midweek trip to Nuneaton Borough for the second straight season on Tuesday (25th October) (7:45pm).

Stratford Town:-

1 Luke Bell

2 Daniel Vann

3 Taylor Morrison

4 Ashley Sammons

5 Paul McCone

6 James O'Neill

7 Samuel Wilding (86' Miles)

8 Daniel Lafferty

9 Andre Wright

10 William Grocott (c)

11 Jack Storer (74' Molyneux)


13 Louis Beresford 

14 Jack Turner

15 Dexter Walters

16 Jamie Molyneux

17 Felix Miles

Needham Market:-

1 Marcus Garnham

2 Kyle Hammond

3 Jake Dye

14 Christian Frimpong

5 Harry Knights (74' McGrath)

6 Daniel Morphew (c)

7 Taykaan Bennett (59' Lay)

8 Noah Collard

9 Luke Ingram

10 Thomas Fitzgerald (59' Clark)

11 Ross Crane


12 Jacob Lay

15 Jamie McGrath

16 Taylor Clark

17 Hugh Cullum

4 Seth Chambers

Booked: O'Neil (44'), Crane (59'), Bell (65').

Needham Assists: Crane (54'), Lay (86').

Goals: Storer (26', 55'), Wright (30', 83'); Ingram (54'), McGrath (86').


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