Barber bids to cut out defeats at Needham

NEEDHAM Market skipper Rhys Barber has claimed his team mates have the mental toughness to ensure a week of woe doesn’t culminate in play-off misery.

The Ryman League Division One pacesetters saw their season derailed by a top of the table defeat at East Thurrock United and then a Suffolk Premier Cup final loss at Bury Town just six days later.

But any talks of a mini-crisis right at the business end of a fantastic campaign has been quickly scoffed by Barber who believes Needham’s team spirit and togetherness will see them through.

Barber said: “We have to stick together and start preparing for the play-offs. Needham have not been used to losing many football matches but we will have home advantage in the play-offs and that could be crucial.

“We have had a bad spell, but we need to take the positives from the cup final defeat. We were the better side in the first half and we have been playing better of late.”

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On the face of it, Needham’s final three matches mean precious little to a side that have already booked second spot and, with it, home advantage in a play-off semi-final.

But with AFC Sudbury hosting the Marketmen on Easter Monday and Harlow Town coming to town on the final day of the season, Needham can still have a big say on the identity of the top five – and their potential play-off opponents.

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Barber said: “Regardless of who we are playing, we have two home games which means we can get used to Bloomfields again. We have had a great season, finishing second in our first year in this league. It all comes down to two matches in the play-offs. If we play well, we have a great chance of promotion.”

Needham will be without Pip Boyland, who starts a three-match ban for his sending off at East Thurrock, as they look to get back to winning ways at home to Waltham Abbey tomorrow (3pm ko). Kevin Horlock, who scored in the reserves’ 4-3 win against Woodbridge on Wednesday night, and Jamie Godbold will both have late fitness checks before manager Danny Laws decides on his team.

Needham squad: Gay, Pemberton, Wake, Horlock, Driver, R Barber, Evans, B Barber, Godbold, Parker, Lee, Newson, Stone, Thrower, Cannon, Finch, Blake.

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