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PRE-SEASON BEGINS WITH EIGHT GOALFEST AT NEWMARKET

Needham Market kicked off their 2023-24 pre-season schedule with a 5-3 victory away to Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Premier Division side Newmarket Town.


Kevin Horlock's side, who only had Jake Dye and Luke Ingram unavailable, but were boosted by the additions of Academy players Flynn Crosthwaite, Ollie Fraser (both of whom made their competitive senior team debuts last season) and James Letts - who made his first team debut from the bench, while Patrick Brothers and Jamie McGrath are still recovering from injuries sustained last season.


The higher league side started brightly in a humid afternoon encounter. which saw six goals arrive in the second half, with 3 of the 4 of those scored by the Marketmen arriving within 9 minutes as the game drew to a close.


Another plus for Horlock's side was having all his summer signings in action for their first outing in Needham colours, with Tevan Allen and Tommy Smith starting and scoring, while Jamie Smith netted on his Needham debut from the bench and Reece Harris picking up an assist, also as a first half substitute.


In a game that both managers agreed to do rolling substitutions, Needham had the first chance after starting brightly in the third minute. Seth Chambers, another Academy graduate, won back possession on the right-hand side of the box, but his low dangerous ball across the face of goal was deflected out for a corner by a defender charging the ball down.


Eight minutes later, the Jockeys took the lead with arguably their first real attack of the afternoon. Ryan Cole confidently dispatching a dangerously positioned free-kick, on the right-hand edge of the box, low into the bottom right-hand corner, 1-0 Newmarket.


Back came Needham though, as Kyle Hammond rasped a 30-yard strike at goal, from the left-hand edge of the box, but his shot was deflected up in the air, dropping kindly for Jacob Lay - who had broken into space on the right-hand side of the penalty area, only to fire a good first time volley just wide of the bottom right-hand corner, after 17 minutes. 


Two minutes later, Marcus Garnham was adjudged to have taken down the a Newmarket attacking player, charging down a pass-back, but the goalkeeper firmly made amends in style in the 21st minute. The penalty saving specialist flew across comfortably just to his right-hand, at waist height, to beat the number 9's spot-kick away in terrific fashion. 


Two minutes later, Ollie Fraser then appeared to have been impeded while shaping to shoot at goal in a dangerous position - down the left-hand side of the box from close range, with his shot blocked, while Flynn Crosthwaite was then seemingly knocked off balance as his shot on the rebound, from the edge of the box, flew just wide of the top right-hand corner. 


Newmarket meanwhile then broke through onto the right-hand side of the box, on 26 minutes, but saw a near post shot following a dangerous low ball put across the six yard box smothered away well by the legs of Garnham, who'd dived away to his right, with captain Keiran Morphew driving the ball away to safety for the Reds. 


Taylor Clark who, along with Seth Chambers, earned his maiden First Team contract in the close season, then forced two decent saves from the hosts' goalkeeper in the space of two minutes. The first, on 29 minutes, saw the midfielder fed into space on the left-hand edge of the box before seeing a ferocious strike towards the bottom near corner beaten away well by the diving 'keeper, while the second - just after the half-hour mark- saw him drive into a central position on the edge of the box, only this time his low shot at the same bottom corner well held by the well positioned goalkeeper. 


The away side then made 3 changes as Ollie Fraser, Flynn Crosthwaite and Seth Chambers all made way for Dylan Williams and new signings Reece Harris and Jamie Smith, with the latter two linking up nicely to provide an instant impact for the Marketmen on 34 minutes.


Good quick passing play saw Reece Harris fed onto the right-hand side of the area, the versatile midfielder then played a neat one-two with striker Jamie Smith before the former dinked a great cross over to Jacob Lay, unmarked from 7-yards out, to dispatch an excellent overhead kick into the bottom left-hand corner, 1-1. 


Two minutes later, Kyle Hammond drove into space to shoot but could only hit his fierce 25-yard strike narrowly over the crossbar. while Newmarket drove onto the left-hand edge of the box on 38 minutes but saw a low tame shot comfortably pounced on by Marcus Garnham.


A good strike from goalscorer Jacob Lay then forced a good save from the Jockeys' goalkeeper on 42 minutes, as his low well placed shot wass palmed away well by the diving goalkeeper, across to his bottom right-hand corner, after the winger had been threaded through one-on-one down the middle of the penalty area.


Three minutes later, Lay then teed up Clark on the right-hand edge of the box, but the midfielder's well struck wrapped shot was deflected crucially just over for a corner as both teams went into the break level. 


The Reds then made two further changes at half-time as Taylor Clark was replaced by fellow Academy midfielder James Letts, for his First Team debut, while another Needham Academy graduate Callum Page came on in place of Jacob Lay.


In an entertaining pre-season encounter, despite the expected high volume of substitutions, the second half arguably delivered the better of the action, with the Marketmen quickly looking for an early goal after the restart.


Reece Harris picked out Tevan Allen arriving onto the edge of the box with a sumptous left wing cross, but the latter's first time shot went over the bar on 48 minutes. Callum Page then saw a low shot from the left-hand edge of the box well held by the 'keeper seconds later, followed moments later by Needham having a goal disallowed for offside.


Needham though took the lead on 54 minutes, a great defence splitting pass from Tommy Smith threaded fellow ex-Ipswich Town player Callum Page through dangerously into acres of space on the left-hand side of the box whose cutback was buried home for his first Needham goal by Tevan Allen well placed from 3-yards out, 2-1 Needham.


Five minutes later, goalscorer Allen was found on the right-hand side, who beat his man well to break onto the edge of the box whose low driven shot across goal was beaten away well by the diving 'keeper. 


Up the other end however on the hour mark, Newmarket drew level as Ben Robinson found space to rifle home from close range, on the right-hand side, into the bottom far corner, 2-2. 

Needham looked to hit back as Reece Harris fired just over the crossbar from the right-hand edge of the box on 62 minutes, while Newmarket struck with a second goal in the space of 5 minutes to retake the lead. Callum Chambers Shaw found space on the left-hand side of the box to fire home in space into the bottom far corner, 3-2 Newmarket. 


Seconds later, Keiran Morphew then drove forward with possession before feeding the ball out wide onto the right wing where a peach of a cross found Dylan Williams free inside the box, whose shot went just wide of the left-hand post. 

Newmarket then saw a shot, from inside the box towards the bottom right-hand corner, well saved by Marcus Garnham on 67 minutes, before some determined defending thwarted a Needham equaliser on 76 minutes. 


First Ollie Fraser's half volley, from a tight angle on the right-hand side, was vitally blocked off the line as far as Callum Page whose instinctive, first time, 12-yard powerful half volley was saved brilliantly by the substitute Newmarket goalkeeper, while Jacob Lay, following up, saw his tight angled, point blank range effort deflected just wide of the near, right-hand corner, for a corner. 


Two further Needham changes followed with 20 minutes left on the clock, Ollie Fraser and Jacob Lay returned to the action in place of Tevan Allen and Keiran Morphew - as Dan Morphew took over as captain.


Horlock's side though did restore parity with a well worked goal on 78 minutes, Kyle Hammond's right wing corner saw Ollie Fraser have a shot blocked as far as Tommy Smith, in space from 14-yards out, to rifle home a great finish, low into the middle of the net, 3-3.


Four minutes later, the Marketmen went back in front as Kyle Hammond's low swinging left wing corner crept in directly at the near post, 4-3 Needham.


Hammond was again involved as Needham wrapped up the scoring on 87 minutes, great linkup play between James Letts and Flynn Crosthwaite saw Kyle Hammond's audacious right wing cross find Jamie Smith who generated enough power onto his glancing header to beat the flying goalkeeper, who got a hand to it, into the top left-hand corner, 5-3 Needham.


A pleasing start to pre-season for Horlock's side, who continue their pre-season preparations away to Thurlow Nunn First Division North side Holland on Tuesday 11th (7:45pm), before returning to Bloomfields for the first time of the new season on Saturday 15th when they host Isthmian League North Division side Felixstowe + Walton United (2pm). 


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