Awesome Amir strikes as Brightlingsea Regent defeat Needham Market

Brightlingsea Regent's George Clarke (red) holds off Needham's Sam Newson

Brightlingsea Regent's George Clarke (red) holds off Needham's Sam Newson - Credit: Archant

Brightlingsea Regent 1

Needham's Rhys Henry (blue) gets away from Brighlingsea's Ricky Griggs

Needham's Rhys Henry (blue) gets away from Brighlingsea's Ricky Griggs - Credit: Archant

Needham Market 0

Amir Berkane’s first goal for Brightlingsea Regent saw the Essex side knock Needham Market off their perch at the top of the Ryman North Division on Saturday.

The 18-year-old former Ipswich Town apprentice, on loan from Chelmsford City, scored the winning goal in the 67th minute to continue Regent’s fine debut season at this level.

Sitting just outside the play-offs following successive promotions from the Thurlow Nunn leagues, Brightlingsea have lost just twice in their last 18 league games, and have picked up 40 points from a last possible 54. After already beating Needham’s Suffolk rivals AFC Sudbury (1-0) as well as play-off contenders Wroxham (2-0) and Dereham Town (2-0) this season, dare Brightlingsea dream of a third successive promotion?

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That might be a step too far, but if they continue to turn in performances and results like they did against Needham, they will not be a million miles away – not bad for a club that only re-formed 10 years ago.

Fit, hard-working, and organised, Brightlingsea stole the points here as Needham’s lack of ruthlessness in front of goal ultimately cost them, with former Ipswich Town star Ian Westlake guilty of a very bad miss.

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The hosts started in the ascendancy with the full-of-running Phil Kelly testing Shaun Phillips early on, before Michael Brothers twice miscued for Needham.

The same player brought out a fine save from former Needham stopper Andrew Plummer in the 30th minute, and from the ensuing corner, Sam Nunn’s powerful header was brilliantly saved one-handed by Plummer.

Needham’s Luke Ingram then saw a penalty appeal waved away, before Rhys Henry misjudged the flight of the ball with the goal looming after Keiran Morphew flicked on Michael Brothers’ long throw.

Henry volleyed just wide with a spectacular effort in the 61st minute, moments after Jake Holman was inches away from meeting Ricky Griggs’ cross as Regent’s quick-thinking caused panic in the Needham back-line.

The game then changed in the 65th minute as Westlake blazed over from inside the six-yard box much to the disbelief of an impressive 282-strong crowd, with youngster Berkane punishing the Marketmen just two minutes later.

A great driving run and shot by Kelly bought a save from the feet of Phillips, with the ball bumping off numerous players as Berkane stabbed it home at about the fourth attempt to spark loud celebrations among the Regent fans.

Needham then chased the game, but Regent defended admirably with the centre-half partnership of Holman and Matt Cripps excelling to keep hotshot duo Sam Newson and Brothers quiet.

Both strikers did have chances towards the death, but failed to hit the target, with substitute Ryan Crisp also narrowly off target in a game to forget for the Marketmen.

They dropped back down to second in the league as a result of the loss, following Harlow’s 1-1 draw with Wroxham.


Brightlingsea – Plummer, Griggs, Josh Gould (c), Holman, Cripps, Berkane, Canfer (Gordon 50), Clarke (Joseph 74), Heath, Kelly (Jake Gould 69), Ben Newson. Subs unused – Joyce, Turner.

Needham – Phillips, Brown, Coakley, Nunn, Morphew (Mills 77), Izzet (c), Westlake, Ingram, Henry (Crisp 66), Brothers, Sam Newson. Subs unused – Munson, Dye, Norfolk.

Referee – Mr D. Sotimirin

Attendance – 282

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