Draw with AFC Sudbury leaves Needham Market needing a miracle to reach play-offs

Luke Ingram scored for Needham

Luke Ingram scored for Needham - Credit: Archant

Ryman Premier League AFC Sudbury 1 Needham Market 1 Relegated AFC Sudbury left Needham Market’s play-off hopes hanging by a thread after the two Suffolk rivals played out a 1-1 draw today.

Luke Ingram fired in his 19th goal of the season to put the Ryman League Premier Division promotion chasers in front on the stroke of half time, before James Baker’s 76th minute equaliser ensured the points were shared and left the Marketmen requiring a final day miracle on Saturday to finish in the top five.

AFC’s relegation from the Ryman League’s top flight was confirmed before kick-off following Burgess Hill Town’s 1-1 draw with Worthing earlier in the day, but Jamie Godbold’s side showed no signs of a team who were prepared to hand out any favours to their play-off chasing neighbours.

The Yellows, who will drop back down to Ryman League Division One North after one season in the Premier Division, made a bright start to the contest, with both Dylan Williams and Craig Parker having efforts go wide.

Once Needham settled, though, they always posed a dangerous threat to the Sudbury defence. The Marketmen’s leading goalscorer Ingram had several opportunities to open the scoring in the early stages.

Ingram headed a Darryl Coakley cross onto the frame of the AFC goal on 15 minutes, while at the other end Williams’ 36th minute free kick came back off the Needham right post.

The deadlock was broken two minutes before the break by the visitors, as Ingram burst into the Sudbury box, drew home goalkeeper Marcus Garnham out of his goal, and fired a shot in off the far post.

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AFC did not throw in the towel and Godbold’s men were denied an equaliser by an excellent save from James Bradbrook, the stand-in goalkeeper for Needham, who blocked James Baker’s shot from close range.

And 14 minutes from time they had their equaliser, as substitute Mekhi McKenzie teed up Baker in front of goal to level the game.

The draw leaves Needham in seventh and three points off the play-offs with one game to go.

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