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Needham Market Under-23s record their first win, and clean sheet, of the new season to progress into the second round of the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup, following a deserved 3-0 win at fellow Division One North side Debenham LC.

Ultimately clinical finishing separated the two sides at Friends Meadow, with the young Marketmen arguably creating the better chances and had two decent chances early on.

First, Ollie Fraser threaded Archie Exworth through down the left wing on the overlap, but the latter's good cross in was held onto well by Fairweather on his goal-line after five minutes.

Two minutes later, the first shot on target of the night arrived, after Ollie Fraser exploited space well 20-yards from goal, the midfielder fired a good strike which Fairweather did well to just hold onto. 

Up the other end meanwhile soon after, the hosting Hornets had a great chance, albeit was offside regardless. Ben Golding's great low cross from the right wing was put on a plate for Elliot Ballard, who was free from point blank range at the far post, but for his shot to be hacked away by Sam Leslie just ahead of the goal-line.  

Arguably the best chance for Debenham then came and went in the tenth minute, Reece Golding was threaded through onto the left-hand byline inside the penalty area, only to flash his strike agonisingly just wide of the bottom far corner. 

Needham though took the lead two minutes later, after a well taken free-kick from Archie Exworth. The midfielder's fiercely driven 30-yard set-piece drew a good stop from Fairweather, down well at his near post, who could only palm it away as far as Lucas Vance on the near byline, who slotted home into the gaping net from close range, 0-1 Needham.

Debenham on the other hand looked to strike back after 21 minutes, albeit the dangerous left wing cross was delivered low across the far of goal forcing Ivan Sanchez to chest the ball just wide at the back post. 

An excellently timed tackle from Shane Wardley then denied an almost certain shot on goal from the home side after 26 minutes, sliding in perfectly to divert the ball back to his goalkeeper Finlay Shorten, who duly cleared the ball away.

Back at the other end, the young Reds went close to doubling their lead with what would've been a well taken goal from Ollie Fraser two minutes later. Ivan Sanchez picked out the former, who then cut inside smartly onto the left-hand edge of the box, beating two defenders in the process, although his driven shot went just a centimetre wide of the bottom near corner. 

The young Marketmen continued to dominate proceedings, but to be denied a second goal by the woodwork on the half-hour mark, Travis Buxton was unfortunate to see his shot crash back off the crossbar, with the rebound falling for Lucas Vance, free from 18-yards out, although the forward's shot went just over the top right-hand corner.

Shortly after, a good stop from Fairweather thwarted Needham from doubling the lead, Ollie Fraser again cut inside smartly from the left wing and onto the central edge of the box, only to see his low smashed shot, which was creeping into the bottom left-hand other, tipped behind by the goalkeeper. 

In a game that ultimately saw very little stoppages, it was unsurprising that there was just one booking between the two sides all night, with the only caution of the night going to Debenham's Charlie Canham for tugging down Lucas Vance, who had cleverly gone passed him down the right wing.

And soon after that set-piece, the visitors doubled their advantage courtesy of some great passing play. Shane Wardley received possession back on the overlap down the left wing, the centre-back then smashed a great low cutback across to Clayton Osborn, who had arrived in space from 16-yards out to sweep a great first time strike comfortably into the bottom left-hand corner, 0-2 Needham after 34 minutes.

A comfortable save from Fin Shorten meanwhile denied Debenham captain Danny Thrower from reducing the deficit 4 minutes later, the hosts' attacking midfielder's fierce strike though was parried down well by the visiting 'keeper, who then comfortably gathered the loose ball.

While Elliot Ballard fired low and wide from 25-yards out a minute later, the away side went close to adding a third goal on 41 minutes. A brilliant through-ball released Archie Exworth haring through down the right wing, where the midfielder then cut inside well onto the byline, his low cut-back found Lucas Vance from close range, but his looping shot somehow didn't end up in the gaping goal.

 A minute later, Needham were given the opportunity to make it 3-0 from the penalty spot, though Vance's spot-kick was well read by Fairweather, who got down well to his left hand side to hold onto the ball. 

Great defending by Mo Igwebuike at the other end prevented Debenham from testing Fin Shorten's goal a minute before the break, twice blocking shots from the right-hand edge of the box, with Sam Cole again seeing his low driven strike well blocked by Shane Wardley right at the end of the first half.

Debenham though did begin the second half brighter, despite still being unable to truly test goalkeeper Fin Shorten. Luke Dunn however weaved through dangerously onto the left-hand byline, only for his effort to be well blocked, virtually straight after the restart. 

Shorten meanwhile was drawn into a routine save after 49 minutes, comfortably scoop diving a low shot towards his bottom left hand corner. Two minutes later though, Needham continued to pose a threat, firing a great strike, from just outside the box, just over the crossbar.

Resolute defending from Sam Leslie on 56 minutes again protected Fin Shorten's goal well, deflecting Elliot Ballard's shot behind the right-hand far post well off his back. 

Overall, it was a good all round team performance from the away side, with Archie Exworth alert to dive down to his left hand post and head the ball away just shy off his goal-line. 

Danny Thrower on the other hand, arguably should've hit the target for Debenham a minute later, firing a powerful 20-yard strike wide of the bottom left hand corner. 

And just after the hour mark, the young Marketmen secured up their passage to the second round of the competition with an audacious finish from Ivan Sanchez. The full-back, who had recently returned following a month away, exploited space on the left wing edge of the box to perfectly fire home into the bottom far corner, 0-3 Needham. 

That goal ultimately killed the game off, with the final three opportunities of the encounter falling to the away side.First, Travis Buxton won possession well as Lucas Vance drove through past the defence, although his low strike towards the bottom right hand corner was gathered by the diving Fairweather after 76 minutes, whilst the final two chances of the night both fell in the 89th minute.

After Archie Exworth's great strike, from the edge of the box, was deflected just wide of the bottom right hand corner, the latter went close again seconds later, this time curling a sumputous strike just wide of the top left-hand corner.

A much needed confidence boosting win for the young Reds, who will travel to Great Yarmouth Town in the second round (who defeated Leiston Reserves away 9-8 on penalties after a 3-3 draw) are in home action back in the First Division North on Saturday against Parson Drove (3pm), with the Under-18s in home action just before that on Thursday evening at Bloomfields against Whitton United (7:45pm).


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