Billy Clark fires the winner as Needham Market keep up promotion push
- Credit: Archant
Ryman Premier Needham Market 1 Wingate & Finchley 0 Needham Market are not giving up second place easily in the Ryman Premier Division.
The Marketmen battled their way to another big win on Saturday as Billy Clark came off the bench to keep Needham in the top two.
Clark was clinically on target in the 79th minute, as Needham, like they have done so often this season, won this game without playing particularly well.
The team spirit at Bloomfields cannot be knocked however. Defensively disciplined, Needham kept themselves intact against half-decent opposition, before ruthlessly stealing the points.
Goalkeeper Danny Gay and Academy products Keiran Morphew and Jake Dye were outstanding at the back for the Marketmen, who should have been 2-0 up after five minutes.
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Inside 60 seconds, John Sands, on his return to the starting line up, sent his lob over the crossbar with Shane Gore in no man’s land.
Gore was heavily involved again four minutes later, clattering into Reece Dobson, with referee Adrian Sannerude pointing to the penalty spot.
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Despite Sands netting two consecutive penalties in Needham’s previous two games, captain Kem Izzet grabbed the ball, but saw his spot-kick saved by Gore.
Wingate & Finchley then went onto control the rest of the first half, with Gay producing a fine save from Tanasheh Abrahams’ close-range shot.
At times, the Marketmen had to defend desperately as the 10th-placed Blues pressured the Needham rearguard.
But, to their credit, the Suffolk side stood up to the challenge with Gay, Dye, and Morphew hardly putting a foot wrong all game.
Luke Ingram’s galvanising 40-yard run and shot, in the 52nd minute, got the hearts of the 227-strong crowd pumping a little, before Clark replaced Sands.
The former Bury Town and Leiston midfielder made an instant impact upon his arrival into the game, linking up play well between the midfield and frontrunner Dobson.
Needham were then indebted to two superb Gay saves in the 69th and 70th minutes, clawing Claudio Vilcu’s top-corner bound free-kick over the bar, before smartly stopping Reece Beckles-Richards’ effort with one-hand.
And nine minutes later, Needham struck. Ingram powered down the right wing and swung in a dangerous cross that Wingate & Finchley failed to deal with, and there was Clark to coolly convert.