Fortress Bloomfields could prove the difference for Needham Market
DANNY Laws knows exactly how he wants his Needham Market side to treat the biggest game in the club’s history.
The Needham boss has called on his players to look at tonight’s massive play-off semi-final against Brentwood as “just another league game” in an attempt to play down the pressure from the winner-takes-all clash.
In fact, the side who finished second in their first year in the Ryman League Division One North could be just two home wins from back-to-back promotions.
And while Laws will never admit it, his players will have to deal with being clear favourites after finishing 18 points ahead of their semi-final opponents and not losing in 20 leagues home matches at Bloomfields this season.
Add to that the fact Needham have been able to rest some weary legs in the run-in and have key defenders Pip Boyland and Lewis Pemberton back from suspension, and Laws’ job must be one of dampening down expectations.
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The manager said: “We have had a fantastic season and we have been the second best team in this league, without a doubt. We will give Brentwood respect, and I did tip them to be in the play-offs, but I couldn’t have asked for more in terms of preparation.
“I am delighted we kept our home record intact on Saturday (after the 1-1 draw against Harlow) and I think that achievement will stand us in good stead.”
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Where a tough season has taken its toll on other teams, Laws has reported no new injury worries and even hinted that the performance of Christy Finch and Rhys Henry against Harlow has given him some fresh food for thought.
Indeed, the Needham boss faces the prospect of disappointing four of his first team squad who won’t even make the bench against Brentwood.
The only fly in the Needham ointment has come from Lowestoft Town’s decision to recall midfielder Jamie Godbold for their own play-off push. But even this news has failed to ruffle up Laws who said: “I fully understand Lowestoft exercising their right. Jamie has been great since he has been here, but I fully understand – and expected – this situation.
“We have James Evans who was our regular right midfielder before moving to right back recently, and he is playing with a lot of confidence.”
The club have hailed tonight as the biggest match in their history and Laws added: “We are confident but we are fully aware of the task ahead. We are just taking one game at a time and we will do all we can to get two wins at home and get promoted.”