Needham Market boss Mark Morsley hopes his side have the legs over Ryman North rivals Harlow Town, Thurrock, and Heybridge Swifts in ‘four-horse race’ for the play-offs

Needham Market boss Mark Morsley

Needham Market boss Mark Morsley - Credit: James Ager

Needham Market manager Mark Morsley thinks his side is in a ‘straight four-horse race’ for three Ryman North play-off spaces up for grabs.

With Morsley accepting that VCD Athletic and Witham Town appear to have runaway as they battle for league honours, in his mind, that leaves three remaining play-off places to fight for.

“There is a straight four-horse race for the play-offs, without a doubt,” claimed Morsley.

“As far as I’m concerned VCD and Witham have the top two positions so that leaves us, Harlow, Thurrock and Heybridge fighting for three spots.”

It’s been a funny sort of season for Needham.


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They were largely expected to challenge for automatic promotion, or a play-off place at least, before a ball was kicked in August, but after a topsy-turvy, stop-start campaign, the question on many people’s lips has been ‘will they, won’t they?’

Indeed, just as the Marketmen look like they’re getting into some fearsome rhythm as recent back-to-back wins over Waltham Forest (1-0) and Waltham Abbey (4-0) prove, they stumble – with Morsley’s side injury-time 3-2 defeat to Romford in midweek looming in the mind.

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Fortunately for Morsley’s men, they did have an awful lot of games in hand and although they have caught up with the majority of these now, a run of two steps forward and one step back could still just be good enough for them to get into the sought-after play-offs.

But Morsley, for one, is not pressing any panic buttons just yet.

“People say that we must do this, we must do that, but all we’re looking for the players to do is to keep playing the football we have been playing and see where it takes us,” said Morsley.

“Wednesday was the perfect example – it was a very good game and one that we led in twice.

“To be fair to them, Romford have a good team now and would be there or thereabouts if they had that team from the start.

“What was disappointing though was the inexperience we showed for the winning goal.

“We were pushing for the win and got caught out with the rest history.

“We need wins, draws are no good to us at this stage, but we move on.

“There’s still plenty of time left for more twists and turns as yet, we’ve still got a quarter of a season to play in just under a month!”

With 11 draws, seven defeats, and 18 wins to their name, Needham currently sit four points off the play-offs and Morsley has accepted that too many draws could possibly end up costing them a top-five finish.

“At the end of the day, we do have a young squad here and everyone is all on a steep learning curve,” added the Marketmen boss.

“Whether we make the play-offs or not this year, everyone will certainly be in a better frame ahead of next season.”

Needham travel to Maldon & Tiptree tomorrow, in a game they must realistically win to keep tabs with the play-offs.

“I want us to react to this bit of pressure we’ve got on us,” Morsley added.

“From now on in, there is all kinds of pressure on the challenging teams and it’s about who reacts best.”

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