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U23S FINAL HOME GAME ENDS IN DEFEAT

Needham Market Under-23's final home game of the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League First Division North campaign ended in a 1-3 win that arguably flattered visitors Huntingdon Town.


Ollie Fraser got the afternoon off to a perfect start from James Mant's side's perspective, as the winger - who is back from England U18 Schoolboys duty - opened the scoring in the fourth minute. Great play from Needham saw the advantage played after Archie Exworth was taken out by a bad challenge, with some neat passing then seeing Fraser in possession on the left-hand edge of the box to smash home a terrific strike into the bottom far corner, 1-0 Needham.


While the away side blasted a shot over on 15 minutes, Needham went close to a second goal two minutes later, a great long ball over the top was latched onto well by Flynn Crosthwaite down the left wing overlap, the fullback then drove into the box before unselfishly cutting the ball back to Archie Exworth free from 8-yards out but his near post low shot was blocked.


Needham had another good chance in the 20th minute, although Archie Exworth smashed his half-volley from the edge of the box way over the crossbar. 


At the other end, Arnold's far post header, following a free-kick into the box, was headed straight at goalkeeper Lawrence Robinson, who caught the ball well at head height on 32 minutes, while the visitors equalised three minutes later. Goalkeeper Barton's long ball over the top found Nicholson free one on one with Robinson down the left-hand side of the box, who hear the keeper to head into the empty bottom near corner, 1-1. 


Two terrific saves from Lawrence Robinson thwarted Huntingdon from taking the lead, after Needham had arguably had the better of the first half play. Goalscorer Nicholson drove through into space onto the left-hand edge of the box, albeit his low shot was deneid by a great stop by Robinson down smartly at his near post to beat it behind for a corner. 


The resulting corner, a minute later, though saw Venters found unmarked at the far post whose free header was dipping underneath Robinson's crossbar until the shot-stopper dived up brilliantly to tip it over his crossbar, before Hakuria blasted a free-kick way over the crossbar in the third minute of first half stoppage time. 


Seven minutes after the restart, great play from the young Reds almost saw the home side retake the lead on 52 minutes, Archie Exworth fed Ed Barker into space on the right-hand edge of the box, who in turn slotted the ball through to Travis Buxton, the midfielder then teed up Exworth 25-yards out from goal, whose shot was deflected as the goalkeeper advanced off his line well to gather. 


Huntingdon though took the lead on 56 minutes, Harris-Hurcules picked up possession on the left-hand edge of the box before firing a powerful shot into the bottom left-hand corner, 1-2. 


Flynn Crosthwaite meanwhile arrived on the end of a corner on the edge of the box ten minutes later, but the fullback's low shot was blocked. 


Back at the other end, another stunning save from Robinson thwarted the away side on 68 minutes, Stringer's 35-yard fierce strike looked destined to nestle into the top right-hand corner until Robinson flew across to swat it over off the top of the crossbar for a corner. 


While large spells of Needham possession couldn't quite create an opportunity to level proceedings, Huntingdon hit Needham with a hammer blow third goal on 78 minutes. The ball fell kindly for Brooks following a scramble at a left wing corner to slide in from point blank range, on the left-hand side, and poke home into the near corner. 


Mant's side travel to Debenham LC on Monday in their penultimate game of the season. 

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