Evans the hero as Needham do the double

AN extra-time header from James Evans secured Needham the Ridgeons League and Cup double as they defeated Kirkley for the fifth time this season.

Kirkley & Pakefield 1 Needham Market 2 (AET)

AN extra-time header from James Evans secured Needham the Ridgeons League and Cup double as they defeated Kirkley for the fifth time this season.

The win was all the more commendable as Needham played the majority of the game with only 10 men as their skipper Rhys Barber was dismissed for a professional foul just before the half hour.

In front of a healthy crowd at Diss Town’s well-appointed ground, Needham set off at a fast pace and took the lead in somewhat fortuitous circumstances after four minutes when Danny Phillips’ cross from the right-hand touchline was completely misjudged by keeper Robert Woodcock and the ball sailed sailed home at the near post.


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Woodcock then pushed a long-range effort from Darren Bethell round the upright.

Back came Kirkley and Andy Key cut in from the left and saw his effort blocked by Needham keeper Danny Gay with Alaistair McKenna poking the rebound wide.

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The game was flowing from end to end and after 25 minutes Kirkley grabbed the equaliser through Russell Stock, who volleyed home the high, bouncing ball after Gay had pushed out an angled drive from Nathan Stone.

Then Stock’s fine pass sent McKenna clear and he was bundled over by Barber with only Gay to beat, making the ensuing red card inevitable.

However, Woodcock’s day went from bad to worse as he blazed the spot-kick over via the top of the bar.

Just before half-time more good play from Stock set up Stone but Gay came out to block with his legs.

The second period was a more scrappy affair with Kirkley failing to make much headway despite having the extra man.

Mckenna and Key fired wide from promising positions and it was only in extra time when the game came to life again.

After 94 minutes, Ryan DeCoteau’s back pass let in Phillips, but Woodcock blocked his shot and Kirkley were denied when Gay made a great save from Stock’s header with Parker completing the clearance by heading off the line.

Then came the winner in stoppage time of the first period of extra time when Danny Thrower’s left-wing cross was headed home by substitute Evans from just inside the six-yard box.

Kirkley’s misery was complete when their skipper Joe Jefford was harshly sent off just before the final whistle for a second bookable offence.

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