‘Another tough test awaits’ – Needham Market boss Wilkins ahead of trip to Royston

James Baker (red shirt) in the St Neots penalty area during Needham's recent 3-0 away win. Baker has

James Baker (red shirt) in the St Neots penalty area during Needham's recent 3-0 away win. Baker has drawn praise from his manager Richard Wilkins.. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Needham Market and Royston Town go head-to-head for the third time in eight days, at Garden Walk this afternoon.

The Suffolk side have come out on top so far, holding the Crows to a 1-1 draw in an FA Trophy third qualifying round tie last weekend, before winning the replay 2-0 at Bloomfields on a wet and windy Tuesday night.

Today, the two meet in an Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Central clash in Hertfordshire.

Royston are currently in sixth slot, only out of the play-off zone on goal difference, while improving Needham are two points adrift on ninth slot.

The Marketmen have impressed at both ends of the pitch in recent weeks, and manager Richard Wilkins has been quick to praise the role of front-man James Baker, who bagged the opener in the replay win over the Crows.

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“James Baker makes a big difference for us,” explained Wilkins.

“He is a focal point for us, up front, and he allows other attacking players like Gareth Heath to get into forward positions.

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“James holds the ball up very well, and so brings others into play. Some of the others don’t have the physical presence that he has, which is why he has been a big player for us in recent games.”

Likewise, Needham’s defence has been working well, even though regular left-back Callum Sturgess missed the midweek game, forcing the versatile Joe Marsden to operate in that position.

“The defence is doing well. With the Morphews (Keiran and Dan), you always know what you are going to get,” continued Wilkins.

“Joe Marsden is so versatile. He was at left-back because Callum (Sturgess) was suffering from mild concussion. It wasn’t too bad, he should be OK in a few days.

“Joe can play on the right wing, left wing, in central midfield, right back, left back, He is a very accomplished player with quality on the ball.

“This is our third game against Royston in eight days, so we know each other very well now. Another tough test awaits. We’ve had a draw and a win against them, so I’m sure they will be looking for the three points and revenge.

“But the league is very important to us,” said Wilkins.

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