Five-star Leiston hammer Suffolk rivals Needham Market in Ryman Premier
- Credit: Archant
Brilliant Leiston put on a five-star show to sweep aside a lacklustre Needham Market, in a one-sided Suffolk derby at Victory Road on Monday afternoon.
The Blues bounced back from their own below-par showing in the 1-1 home draw against Enfield on New Year’s Eve, to heap further pain on second-placed Needham – having won 4-0 in the reverse fixture at Bloomfields last August.
The visitors went into the game on the back of five victories from their last six matches, but were second-best all over the park yesterday.
Had they been anywhere near their best however, they would have still struggled to get a result, such was the intensity and quality of the Blues’ play.
Led by Matt Blake and Niko Muir, who bullied and harassed Needham’s over-worked back-line, the hosts took a 3-0 interval lead thanks to goals from Gareth Heath and a brace from the impressive Byron Lawrence.
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Two early second-half goals from Patrick Brothers and Muir showed Leiston weren’t prepared to take their foot off the gas and only when they began to overplay did the visitors come into the game, Luke Ingram hitting a long-range consolation for Needham on 65 minutes.
Leiston settled for five but, in truth, they could have been leading by half-a-dozen come the end of the first half, such was the relentless nature of their performance.
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Danny Gay, the Needham goalkeeper, kept his side in the game during a first period in which the visitors failed to have a shot.
They improved slightly in the second half but, Gay aside, only substitutes Keiran Morphew, Ollie Snaith and Ollie Fenn emerged with any real credit.
The Blues kicked off in the first half at a fast pace and Heath’s early volley deflected wide for a corner with Gay flat-footed.
Blake then hit his own man in the box after latching on to Lawrence’s left-wing cut back – the hosts’ 3-5-2 system with Seb Dunbar and Ollie Brown flying down the flanks proving to be a massive headache for the visitors.
The opener came on 20 minutes when Heath swung in a corner from the left which went across Gay and in at the back post, Brothers ensuring the ball was bundled into the back of the net.
Brown, against his former club, then fired a deflected shot over the bar, before Blake hit into the near-post side netting after good hold-up play by Muir.
The Blues, led by the irrepressible Lawrence doubled their lead on 28 minutes, the young midfielder finishing with aplomb across Gay after running inside Blake and collecting a slide-rule ball from the striker, inside the area.
Needham changed to a 3-5-2 to try and match Leiston, but the Blues remained in the ascendancy.
Gay made good saves from Blake and a bullet header from the returning Tom Bullard but could only watch Lawrence fire in from the rebound, in injury-time, after saving Muir’s close-range shot. That third goal was the killer for Needham, right on half-time, and the Blues flew out of the traps in the second half, Muir only being denied by the offside flag, after Gay had saved Blake’s initial effort.
Brothers did add a fourth though, six minutes after the break with a stunning long-range shot from the left that flew into the right corner.
The tireless Muir then got in on the act, finishing after Blake was denied by Gay once again.
Needham only had a couple of efforts all the game and they pulled a consolation back on 64 minutes, Ingram finishing from long range after the Blues were punished for trying to be too intricate playing out from the back.