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It's the clash of Suffolk's top non-league sides as Leiston entertain Needham Market in huge Boxing Day lunchtime game

24 December, 2018 - 11:43
Leiston's management team, Stuart Boardley, left and David Head Photo: PAUL VOLLER

Leiston's management team, Stuart Boardley, left and David Head Photo: PAUL VOLLER

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All roads lead to Victory Road, Leiston, Boxing Day lunchtime, as the home side entertain Needham Market in a huge Suffolk Southern League derby clash, 1pm kick-off, writes Craig Cooper.

Needham Market's Joe Marsden, a former Leiston player, celebrating one of his two goals on Saturday for the Marketmen, who beat Bedworth United Photo: BEN POOLEYNeedham Market's Joe Marsden, a former Leiston player, celebrating one of his two goals on Saturday for the Marketmen, who beat Bedworth United Photo: BEN POOLEY

Leiston are in a run of patchy form and have dropped to 12th in the Southern League Central Division, while Needham Market are one of the division’s form sides, with just one defeat in their last seven league games. They are upto fourth place in the table.

Leiston drew their second match on the bounce on Saturday, 2-2 at Coalville Town thanks to a Matt Blake brace, while Needham defeated Bedworth United 4-1 at Bloomfields.

While the Blues didn’t beat Coalville, even though the home side played with 10-men for an hour, boss Stuart Boardley was happy with his side’s efforts.

“We were generally pleased with the performance on Saturday,” Boardley said.

“There were areas for improvement but the lads showed great spirit to come from a goal behind away from home. Coalville play an attacking brand of football that was difficult to deal with, so we were pleased with a point.”

Leiston’s record against Needham in the league in recent years has been very good, with the Blues unbeaten in their last 11 league games against Needham.

In that time also, Leiston have played Needham five times in cup competitions, winning four of these.

Earlier in the season, Cemal Ramadan and Chris Henderson were on target as Leiston drew 2-2 with The Marketmen in August.

Boardley knows it’s a game all the players look forward to.

“Needham is one of the first games you look at when the fixture list is released,” Boardley added.

“They are in very good form and it will be an extremely difficult game for us, but we are in a positive frame of mind following the Coalville game.

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“I’m sure it will be a great advert for non-league football and urge football fans to come along and experience it first hand.”

Boardley has the same squad from Coalville to work with this afternoon, although Noel Aitkens faces a late fitness test.

After the Boxing Day match, Leiston host Royston at home on Saturday before travelling to Lowestoft Town on New Year’s Day. Needham travel to Hitchin on Saturday and entertain King’s Lynn on New Year’s Day

Leiston Reserves match with Haverhill Borough was called off late on Saturday, with their next match being played this coming weekend away to Ipswich Wanderers.

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