Needham Market's return to action, following a three week break due o postponements, ended in a 1-0 defeat at Royston Town.
Kevin Horlock handed a debut to new signing Dylan Williams in the place of Kaan Bennett whose loan spell from Colchester has ended with Noah Collard and Patrick Brothers starting in place of Tom Fitzgerald and Seth Chambers while Hugh Cullum and Jacob Lay both returned from injury on the bench and Academy winger Ollie Fraser, who has recently made the England U18 Schoolboys squad, was also named on the bench for his maiden first team call up.
Clear cut chances were at a premium, although the Marketmen will rue arguably having the better of the chances but not making them count.
The Suffolk side, wearing their yellow away kit, had the first chance of the afternoon after 7 minutes. Jamie McGrath was threaded through by a brilliant low ball past the defence from Noah Collard, the striker then took the ball past the goalkeeper who recovered well to smother the ball partially away.
Needham then had two great chances within a minute just sixty seconds later, Dylan Williams nearly marked his debut with a goal - leaping highest from 4-yards out only to glance a far post header just wide from a left wing cross. Patrick Brothers then picked up possession on the edge of the box moments later, only to laser his fierce strike a centimetre wide of the bottom right-hand corner.
On 11 minutes, Man Of The Match Keiran Morphew then read play well as he intercepted possession before driving through the Crows' half and feeding Williams free down the right wing whose audacious low ball across the six yard box was crucially cleared ahead of the onrushing Ross Crane at the back post.
Needham though couldn't quite make their chances count, as Crane went agonisingly close on 18 minutes, only to see his fierce strike from the left-hand edge of the box deflected just wide of the bottom near corner.
Five minutes later, Needham went close again, Kyle Hammond's clever right wing cross was deflected onto Williams who towered highest from close range - only to head just over the crossbar.
At the other end, Royston had a great chance of their own after 27 minutes, a great low left wing cross from the hosts picked out Shomari Barnwell at the far post whose low shot from close range went wide into the side-netting.
Nathan Tshikuna then tried his luck 12 minutes later only to smash his strike wide of the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box.
On the stroke of half-time, Needham however went close again. Crane's dangerous low right wing corner found Patrick Brothers arriving at the near post, although the midfielder could only poke the ball from a yard out.
The second half saw the game open up a bit more, just 19 seconds after the restart the Marketmen had a great chance to open the scoring. Williams released Brothers into space on the left-hand edge of the box, though the latter's low shot was well held by Cambridge United loanee Chadwick.
Williams again caused problems for the home defence on 48 minutes, the attacking playmaker latched onto a great low through-ball down the right-hand side of the box before cutting the ball back across to Brothers who in turn found Ross Crane free from 7-yards out, albeit his neat flick was tame and comfortable for Chadwick to gather, diving down to his left-hand side.
A minute later, Keiran Morphew was denied by a terrific diving save from Chadwick as Needham continued to look for the opening goal. The captain met a partial clearance on the edge of the box whose ferocious strike towards the bottom right-hand corner was superbly beaten behind for a corner by the quick reactions of the home goalkeeper.
Needham though did have the ball in the net on 51 minutes, a left wing delivery found Christian Frimpong, who was deemed to be offside, in space from 8-yards out who smartly headed home across goal into the bottom left-hand corner but was ruled out for offside.
Royston then broke from the resulting free-kick, forcing the Needham defence to clear a shot off the line.
Royston then took the lead seven minutes later, Nathan Tshikuna netted what proved to be the winner from the penalty spot, confidently dispatching it into the bottom left-hand corner.
The goalscorer then picked up possession dangerously down the right-hand side of the box on 64 minutes only to see his attempted first time chip well held by Marcus Garnham at his top near corner.
Moments later, the woodwork denied Needham an equaliser, Ross Crane was agonisingly close to levelling proceedings only to see his low shot from the edge box clip back into play off the outside face of the bottom left-hand corner.
Royston then saw a goal of their own disallowed for offside five minutes later after Tshikuna slotted home down the right-hand side from close range.
A minute later, Needham were again denied an equaliser, Crane threaded substitute Seth Chambers close to goal, the striker then teed up Williams whose first time strike from ten yards out was hit straight at the goalkeeper's chest who held on well, with the rest of the goal virtually gaping.
Hammond then picked out Jamie McGrath with a great right wing free-kick on 73 minutes, although the striker's towering header went wide of the far post.
Fresh off the bench, first team debutant Ollie Fraser quickly looked to make an impact, the winger was released through in space down the left wing where the youngster brilliantly cut the ball back to Williams who just missed the target, shooting agonisingly wide of the bottom left-hand corner.
A harsh defeat for Needham, who will look to bounce back on Tuesday at home to Alvechurch (7:45pm).
After making his first team debut, We caught up with Academy winger Ollie Fraser to get his thoughts on the game and becoming the latest Academy player to make his senior Needham debut.
1. Congratulations first of all on making your first team debut, how did you find it overall and feel it went?
OF: Overall I thought it went well, the score wasn’t a reflection as we created chances but just wasn’t clinical, I felt like I played well I created a chance and felt confident to get on ball and dribble.
2. Despite the result, you made a big impact coming off the bench in a difficult scenario, losing away from home, did you feel any nerves at all?
OF: I felt a bit nervous as it’s my first game with them and I want to make good impression and play well, but once I came on the nerves went away and I just wanted to keep playing.
3. Did it help at all making your debut around fellow current and former Academy players?
OF: Yes definitely. The other academy boys have been very helpful with encouraging me and everything so that definitely helped.
4. It's been a great season for you personally, scoring goals in the Under-18s and Under-23s, plus making the England U18 Schoolboys squad, but how does making your senior Needham debut rank amongst those achievements?
OF: It’s a massive accomplishment to make my first team debut at 17. Everyone wants to play for their country so that’s also a big achievement but playing for first team definitely ranks high up there.
5. What targets do you have personally going forward, in terms of Needham and beyond?
OF: In the future I just hope to have a good tournament with the England schools team, and to keep playing first team football and just see where that can take me.