Needham Market aim to cement Ryman League North play-off place

Ryan Charles

Ryan Charles - Credit: Andy Abbott

Needham Market have a fantastic chance to maintain their place in the Ryman League Division One North play-offs on Saturday (April 12), but will be cautious ahead of their trip to 17th-placed Tilbury.

The Marketmen picked up an impressive 3-0 win at second-bottom Erith & Belvedere on Wednesday night, thanks to goals from Ryan Charles, Kem Izzet and Sam Nunn but have, at times, struggled to raise their games against the lower-ranked teams.

Today’s opponents may be in the bottom half, but they have won half of their home games this season and lost just six, and are likely to provide a tricky test for the Marketmen, who will be looking to make it five wins from five games.

Victory for Needham could take them into fourth place and above Essex side Heybridge Swifts, who travel to Romford today.

Midfielder, Ian Westlake, who is likely to be sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee injury, said: “It’s been a funny season. We have taken points from all the teams at the top but have struggled against some of the sides lower down.

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“I don’t know whether it has been a mental thing or not, and not being able to get up for certain games.

“But we have managed to get into the play-offs and if we finish there, I would suggest we would have a good chance.”

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Mark Morsley’s men currently sit in fifth, the final play-off place, with 77 points, three ahead of Thurrock who have a game in hand.

After today, their run-in includes a tricky-looking derby at home to AFC Sudbury, further games at Bloomfields against third-placed Harlow and 12th-placed Chatham and an away game at Soham Town Rangers who can still qualify for the play-offs.

“Thurrock’s run-in seems to be the ‘easiest’ and I think they will make to top-five,” said Morsley.

“They were pretty awesome against us a fortnight ago.

“As for us, we are in there having a go. Our run-in is tough but for the four teams in the frame, each game is a cup final.”

As it stands, Needham would travel to second-placed Witham in a one-off knock-out play-off game, on April 29, and would face the winners of Harlow and Heybridge in the final on May 4.

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