Improved Needham go to high-flying Hampton & Richmond with no fear

Needham manager Mark Morsley issues instructions to his side

Needham manager Mark Morsley issues instructions to his side - Credit: James Ager

Needham Market manager Mark Morsley hopes his team will continue in a similar vein today when they look to take points from Ryman Premier high-fliers, Hampton & Richmond.

The Londoners are second from top in the division and pushing for promotion and will provide a tough test for the Marketmen, who are six points clear of the drop zone – albeit having played six games more than third-bottom Brentwood Town.

However, three clean sheets in a row have seen Morsley’s men pick up a draw from each of their last three league games, a run built on improved solidity from back to front.

“It’s a challenge for us, but there is no pressure on us and no-one will be expecting us to get anything from the game,” said Morsley.

“We will go there and have a bit of a go and see where that takes us, there is no team in the league that we are in awe of.

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“We will also be looking to maintain our solid approach from the last three games. I have been pleased by the way the team has defended in recent times.”

Morsley singled out his midfield for special praise, stressing the fact that many of the goals conceded earlier in the season were not down to individual errors.

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“The goals were not hugely the fault of the defence or goalkeepers,” explained Morsley.

“A lot of it was down to not keeping the ball up front and the midfield not being compact enough when not in possession.

“The team have become more collectively responsible when they don’t have the ball and that’s been down to the work we have done with the players to make them aware of their starting positions when they have not got the ball. Certain players were not working hard enough to get back and be solid.”

Two players exempt from criticism on that score are strikers Michael Brothers and Ollie Mann.

“Any collective criticism about the team’s defending would not be aimed at Brothers or Mann,”added Morsley.

Holding midfielder Ollie Fenn (calf) is out of today’s game as is Keiran Morphew, who remains scheduled to go back on trial at Ipswich Town when he is fit.

Morsley said: “They (Hampton) fancy themselves for promotion and I’m looking forward to seeing how well we do against illustrious opposition.”

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