No joy for Needham in Shakespeare Country as home side take all three points
- Credit: Archant
Stratford 3 Needham Market 1
The Marketmen’s visited Shakespeare Country to do battle in their fight for an Evo Stik South Premier Central play-off place, alas it did not have a happy outcome, writes Paul Munn
Two goals late in the first half from Stratford’s Nabil Shariff and Jordan Williams put the hosts in control and with Nabil Shariff adding another early in the second half resigned the Marketmen to a defeat, although Joseph Marsden did pull one back 12 minutes from time.
Stratford started well and were first to threaten. In the first sixty seconds Wilson Carvalho, who went on to have a good game, drifted in from the left and fired in a strong shot which needed good reactions from Jake Jessup to save and gather the rebound.
It was Needham who then came closest to opening the scoring with two good chances. Reece Dobson had the first after a break by Luke Ingram found him just outside the area, he controlled it and shot but his effort was well saved by Stratford’s keeper Ross Etheridge.
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A few minutes later Luke Ingram was put through on goal by a good ball. As he closed in on the target to take his chance a defender had got back to snuff out the danger.
With five minutes of the half remaining it was Stratford who took the lead. After Needham tried to clear their lines a sliced clearance fell to Albi Skendi who drove into the Needham’s defence before releasing Shariif in the inside right channel, who then slotted the ball passed the keeper.
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On the stroke of half time Stratford increased their lead when a Ross Oulton corner evaded the Needham keeper and defence presenting Williams with a simple header at the far post, which he duly put away.
The second half saw much of the same from both sides. Needham were the first to create a chance on goal. It fell to Marsden, who following a good cross from Dobson, headed goalwards only for him to be denied by a good save by Ross Etheridge.
Stratford the really settled the game five minutes later when Carvalho found room on the left to put in a telling cross to the far post where, Nabil Shariff, had the time and space to head home. With the home side having a comfortable lead they continued to manage the game passing the ball around well.
Needham to their credit did keep plugging away looking for a way back. They made a couple of changes midway through the half, one by design and one through injury, hoping that this might bring a change in fortune.
To an extent it, did as the Marketmen had a little spell where they pressured the home defence. They were rewarded 12 minutes from time, when on the attack the home defence were adjudged to have pulled back Luke Ingram and were given a penalty. Marsden stepped up and slotted away emphatically.
Unfortunately the Marketmen were unable to produce a dramatic comeback, but were very unlucky at the death not to get a second when a Keiran Morphew header came back of the post.
So the points went to Stratford, who remain in a strong position for the play-offs with the Marketmen dropping to eighth place, but still well in contention for a play-off place.
Stratford Town: Etheridge, Cox (Barcelos 68), Isaac, Fry, McAteer, Williams, Wilson, Skendi (Williams 78), Shariff, Oulton (Grocott 62), Carvalho
Needham Market: Jessup, Dye (Pelling 72), Sturgess, Kamanzi, Morphew (K), Baker, Ingram, Heath, Griffiths (Morphew (D) 69), Dobson (Abrahams 85), Marsden