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Needham Market extend their lead at the top of the Southern League Central Premier Division to 6 points with a 1-0 win over Stratford Town.

Kevin Horlock's side made 2 changes, Dylan Williams and Jacob Lay starting in place of injured Nico Valentine and Seth Chambers - the latter starting on the bench. Ollie Fraser and Patrick Brothers joined him and Emmanuel Okunowo on the bench.

Needham had the first half chance on 8 minutes as Tevan Allen's ferocious strike from distance was blocked by a defender.

The Marketmen created another good chance on 15 minutes, the home side worked an opening smartly through great link up play between Jamie McGrath, Tommy Smith and Dylan Williams - which saw the striker found on the left hand side, just inside the box, whose shot dipped narrowly over.

McGrath then struck, what proved to be, the winning goal - and his third goal in as many games - five minutes later. Jacob Lay blocked McCone's clearance into the path of McGrath who exploited space to drive onto the left hand side before finishing smartly into the bottom far corner.

Tevan Allen then saw a powerful left wing, goal-bound, free-kick headed off the line at the near post on 25 minutes, while Luke Ingram's header on goal was headed back into play off the top off the crossbar by a defender.

It was the Marketmen who had the better chances, albeit neither keeper was tested throughout the night with Jacob Lay seeing a shot blocked on the half-hour mark.

Nine minutes later, it was Lay who had the next shot at goal, good work from Jake Dye found Lay, 16-yards from goal, whose angled shot went just wide of the top far corner.

The second half saw even fewer chances take place, though McCone headed a powerful Tevan Allen corner just wide of his own far post six minutes after the restart.

Both teams then began to make changes, with Seth Chambers replacing Jacob Lay for Needham, while Stratford saw a shot from just outside the box curled well wide of the far corner.

At the other end, Luke Ingram worked space well to shoot from 18-yards out in the right hand side, but his fierce shot was well held at head height by the keeper on 68 minutes.

Chambers went close to making the points safe for Needham in the second of 5 additional minutes, the substitute ran through one on one to latch onto a great long ball over the top, beating the onrushing goalkeeper to it but could only scoop his shot over.

Needham saw out the final 4 minutes to record all three points against the Bards, who sit sixth in the table. Needham host seventh placed Stamford in Saturday (3pm).


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