Morsley refuses to blame Needham Market pitch after Merstham draw

Jake Dye (left) came out with credit against Merstham after another solid performance.

Jake Dye (left) came out with credit against Merstham after another solid performance. - Credit: Archant

Needham Market manager Mark Morsley pointed to his players’ application, rather than a difficult pitch, after the Marketmen toiled for long periods in their 1-1 draw with Merstham on Tuesday.

After an awful first half, in which the visitors took the lead, then hit the woodwork, Needham improved in the second period and missed a number of good chances to put the game to bed, before Luke Ingram’s late equaliser.

Morsley conceded that the playing surface was not conducive to passing football, but said his players could have done more to adapt.

“We were poor in the first half and I was really disappointed with our application, even though, to be fair, the goal we conceded was a bit of a fluke,” Morsley said.

“We were better in the second half and had a proper go, although I still felt there was something missing from the performance.

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“But we have to dust ourselves down and we did not lose the game. The point might turn out to be an important one come the end of the season.”

There was certainly more attacking threat from the Ryman Premier play-off chasers in the second half, but the performance was still below-par, albeit on a difficult, bobbly pitch.

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He added: “The pitch was terrible, we can’t do anything about that.

“The conditions do not suit the players we have, we can’t change that, and we have to make the most of it.

“We still created a lot of chances, but we did not put the ball in the back of the net. I know we created chances but in wide areas we sometimes chose to run with the ball rather than cross it and we have to realise you can’t do that on that pitch.”

The draw prevented third-placed Needham from significantly closing the gap on the top two, Havant & Waterlooville and Bognor Regis, and they are at home again at the weekend, against seventh-placed Enfield.

One of the few positives to come out of the game was the display of defender Jake Dye, who has been outstanding all season.

“He’s had a great season, he’s 18 and played every game this season. He is a real breath of fresh air and we have got a few lads like that, Morphs (Kieran Morphew) being the same,” Morsley said.

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