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STEP 3 STATUS CONFIRMED

Needham Market secured their step 3 status for next season with a crucial three points in a five goal thriller with Basford United at Bloomfields.


It was an end to end affair, though the visitors could well have been out of sight early on, had it not been for Needham goalkeeper Marcus Garnham.


Instead, the Needham shot-stopper kept his side on level terms, before the Marketmen raced into a three goal lead, striking three times in the space of 14 minutes to go into the break 3-0 up in clinical fashion, before Basford set up a nervy final half-hour or so in the second half with two goals in 4 minutes of their own - which Needham saw out to record an important three points. 


Kevin Horlock was boosted by the return of Kyle Hammond and Keiran Morphew from injury, with both being rested at half-time ahead of Tuesday's Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Final tie against Leiston, and two more Southern League Central Premier Division games - on Thursday and Saturday. 


Needham though did start brightly as Luke Ingram chased down Dunn's passback to goalkeeper Preston before ricoshading the latter's clearance just wide of the bottom near, right-hand, corner for a Basford goal-kick after 4 minutes. 


Basford though were thwarted by a strong save by Marcus Garnham a minute later, Anthony Dwyer found space to shoot on the edge of the box only for his low shot towards the bottom left-hand corner to be held brilliantly by the diving home 'keeper.


The away side then went close in the 7th minute, James broke through, exploiting space on the process, down the left wing and into the box whose clear shot at goal was hit just over the crossbar. 


Three minutes later, Grantham was threaded through free past the defence but hashed his shot. Seconds later though, James was threaded into space on the right-hand edge of the box whose curling shot went just wide of the top far corner.


Great play from the home side though saw Taylor Clark and Dan Morphew keep possession in a neat move, as the latter threaded a brilliant ball into Luke Ingram, who in turn found Clark, the midfielder then smartly found Kyle Hammond in space just outside the box whose shot sailed over the crossbar on 13 minutes. 


The Marketmen then forced Preston into his first real save of note three minutes later, a peach of a ball from Clark saw the midfielder find Callum Page unmarked on the left-hand edge of the box whose shot was parried by the keeper to comfortably gather at the second attempt. 


While Grantham shot over from the edge of the box after 19 minutes, Needham broke the deadlock with a brilliant goal five minutes later. Taylor Clark started the move with some brilliant movement down the right wing before threading Luke Ingram through with a great reverse pass, between two defenders, on the right-hand side of the box who rifled home a ruthless, and effortless, finish into the bottom far corner, 1-0 Needham. 


Needham then forced a decent stop out of Preston on 32 minutes, Jacob Lay threaded Dylan Williams through with a defence splitting pass onto the right-hand edge of the box whose fierce shot was creeping into the bottom near corner, forcing a strong save out of the diving goalkeeper to beat it away. 


Dylan Williams' audacious right wing free-kick then went just over Dan Morphew's head at the far post, as it fell to Jacob Lay whose shot from a tight angle went just wide into the side-netting on 36 minutes, just sixty seconds before Needham doubled their lead with an outrageous goal of the season strike from Luke Ingram.


Ingram, who registered his second goal of the afternoon and eighteenth for the season did so in stunning style, the forward intercepted possession from 40-yards out on the left-hand side, firstly cushioning the ball down superbly before executing an ice cold half-volleyed lob over goalkeeper Preston and into the top far corner, 2-0 Needham. 


Like buses, the Marketmen extended their lead instantly, Kyle Hammond picked out Callum Page with a sumptuous crossfield ball, as the forward broke through into space down the left-hand side of the box to head home, his first goal since returning to the club, into the top far corner from point blank range, 3-0 Needham. 


Dylan Williams meanwhile tested the goalkeeper with an inswinging left wing corner that looked to be creeping into the top far corner until the goalkeeper punched it away on 43 minutes, while Dwyer saw a close range shot smothered brilliantly by Marcus Garnham to preserve his side's clean sheet going into the interval. 


The second half though saw fewer clear cut chances as the game wore on. Basford however started the half brightly, substitute Da Silva Bastos broke through onto the right-hand side of the box in acres of space only to see his shot towards the bottom far corner cleared off the line by Daniel Morphew on 50 minutes.


Five minutes later however, Basford did pull a goal back as James found space on the edge of the box to smash home into the bottom left hand corner, 3-1. 


Needham on the other hand broke down the other end a minute later, though the low shot was parried behind well by Preston at his left-hand post. 


The latest and final major twist to the game arrived in the 59th minute as Basford capitalised on a passback from High Cullum on the left-hand side in the box as Dwyer's effort appeared to be diverted into his own net by Hugh Cullum. 


In a game that rather optimised an end of season encounter, Callum Page almost restored his side's two goal advantage in 63 minutes. After being threaded through into acres of space by Lay on the left wing, the winger broke onto the left-hand edge of the box before seeing his fierce shot towards the top near corner well held by the goalkeeper.


Four minutes later, Williams then stung the hands of Pearson once again as Needham looked to seal all three points. The midfielder was found well by Ingram on the edge of the box, who beat a man to break into space and see a powerful strike parried down by the goalkeeper to then hold onto the ball. 


The visiting 'keeper though almost registered an assist in the third minute of seven added minutes, the goalkeeper's ball back into the box from 40-yards out on the left wing found the head of Da Silva Bastos, unmarked at the far post, whose effort went just over the gaping top right hand corner.


Needham travel to Stowmarket Town's Greens Meadow ground on Tuesday (18th April, 7:45pm), for their fourth meeting with fellow league opponents Leiston of the season in the Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Finals, ahead of league visits to Hednesford Town (Thursday 20th, 7:45pm) and Barwell (Saturday 22nd, 3pm) in a bumper week.

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