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Needham Market open their home league campaign with a pulsating 0-0 draw with newly promoted Halesowen Town, in a thoroughly deserved point in a game of two halves. 

The Marketmen made 1 change to Tuesday's dramatic comeback home victory over Bury in the Suffolk Premier Cup, as Dylan Williams (on holiday) was replaced in the starting lineup by Seth Chambers with Horlock's side switching to a 4-4-2 formation.

Before the game, two milestones were handed out with two former Academy graduates reaching landmark appearances for the Marketmen, captain Keiran Morphew recently surpassing the 400 mark and Callum Page likewise with 100.

While the first half was a tight affair, with very little clear cut chances it was the visiting Yeltz to arguably shaded the opening 45 minutes, though it was Needham who had the first chance after 6 minutes. 

Reece Harris drove through down the left wing whose low dangerous cross whipped across the six yard box was deflected back by the sliding Ryan Wynter back to his own goalkeeper Daniel Platt. 

At the other end, two minutes later, Man Of The Match Marcus Garnham, chosen by match sponsor Keith Nunn, was on hand to dive across low to his left-hand side to hold onto Jak Hickman's low curling 30-yard free-kick, while Harris fed Seth Chambers into space outside the box, although a tackle denied him a shot towards goal with Callum Page's shot on the edge of the box on the rebound being blocked by a defender on 14 minutes. 

Hickman then saw a shot from hthe edge of the box herocially blocked by the sliding Morphew after 18 minutes, while Wynter latched onto a right wing corner a minute later, only to shoot just wide into the bottom near left-hand side netting from a tight angle at point blank range. 

Clear cut chances then dried up until the 32nd minute as Hawker smashed a 25-yard strike narrowly wide of the bottom left-hand corner, before Luke Ingram drove through into space to latch onto a great low through-ball onto the right-hand byline, inside the box, but his dangeros cross was smacked behind for a corner on 39 minutes. 

A brilliant save from Garnham then preserved his side's clean sheet in stunning style in the first minute of first half stoppage time, a dangerous right wing cross saw Okafor ghost in at the far post whose effort from a yard out was terrifically beaten away by the quick reactions of Garnham to dive down low and beat it away. 

A minute later, Garnham then almost saw his goal-kick set Page one on one with Platt, but the latter rushed off his line well to gather possession.

Halesowen meanwhile had the last chance of the half on 45+5 minutes, as Hickman's glancing close range header went wide of the far, right-hand post. 

The second half meanwhile saw the game spring to life, with the Marketmen arguably shading the half, having more of the major chances and possession, albeit both sides had spells and chances in both halves. 

Reece Harris quickly saw a 47th minute dangerous free-kick, on the right-hand edge of the box, blocked low by the wall, while Joshua Hawker saw a 25-yard low shot deflected wide of the far post, with the visitors keeping the ball in play on the hour mark. 

On the other hand, a huge save from Platt denied the Marketmen from breaking the deadlock on 64 minutes, Tevan Allen picked up a rushed clearance from Platt before threading substitute Jacob Lay into space out on the right wing who drove into space and wrapping an audacious low cross round the defence to Page at the far post whose sidefooted half volley, from point blank range, was swatted away at his bottom right-hand corner by the quick reactions of Platt. 

Page in turn released Harris racing through onto the left-hand edge of the box whose lobbed shot, after spotting Platt off his line, was deflected just wide of the near post for a corner as the game began to explode into life on 69 minutes. 

Two minutes later, a clever brilliant long ball over the top from Dan Morphew threaded Lay one on one with Platt, past the defence, onto the right-hand side of the box whose low shot was well saved by the diving 'keeper, a minute before Tevan Allen then saw a low 16-yard shot kicked away by the 'keeper slightly off his line and Jake Dye, diving in, just couldn't connect with a low audacious ball flashed across the six yard box.

Tommy Smith then picked out Kyle Hammond into space out on the right wing with a peach of a crossfield ball, the midfielder then teed up Luke Ingram on the edge of the box, who shot over the crossbar. 

A crucial save at each end meanwhile ensured the spoils were shared, in the side's first meeting since 2018/19 - in which both meetings ended in 1-1 draws - as Garnham made himself big to narrow down the angle and smother the shot, after a visiting man was threaded into space down the right-hand side of the box in the 4th minute of 7 added minutes. 

Two minutes later, Platt was alert to deny Allen's goalbound volley from the edge of the box, flying up to his top left-hand corner to tip it behind, while Yeltz substitute Elliott curled a strike a centimetre wide of the bottom far, right-hand corner, from the edge of the box on 90+9 minutes.

That was the last kick of the afternoon as both sides shared a deserved point, with the Marketmen back at home for their third league game of the season on Tuesday, at home to Hitchin Town (7:45pm).


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