Marketmen embrace big test at league leaders Kettering

Jamie Griffiths, who scored an injury-time winner against Biggleswade Town in midweek and could star

Jamie Griffiths, who scored an injury-time winner against Biggleswade Town in midweek and could start at Kettering this weekend. Picture: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

Needham Market, buoyed by their last gasp victory over Biggleswade Town in midweek, face probably their biggest challenge of the season away at league leaders Kettering Town tomorrow afternoon.

The Marketmen badly needed all three points on Tuesday night, having suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Stratford Town and struggling St Neots Town, and substitute Jamie Griffiths’ injury-time headed winner in a 1-0 win over Biggleswade was just what the doctor ordered.

It lifted the Suffolk side to within two points of the Southern League Premier Central play-off zone, going into today’s test at the Poppies, who have only lost four of their 27 league games.

“I thought we were very good in the second half and richly deserved the victory,” enthused Needham manager Richard Wilkins, following the win over play-off rivals Biggleswade.

“The first half was very even. Both sides had a couple of chances, but we panicked in front of goal and dragged our shots wide.

“We talked about having that bit more composure at half-time, because there had not been any flow to our game since our 10-day break (in mid-January).

“And we were far better in the second half. We were better organised, made better decisions. There was a flow to our passing and I would have even been pleased if it had stayed 0-0, because of their second-half performance. However, in the end it was a big three points for us.

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“We had not played to the levels we are capable of, against St Neots the previous weekend (1-0 home defeat), but this latest win has seen us stay in the mix.

“Kettering have some experienced players, and they mix it up a bit. They can pass it or go more direct.

“But I thought we did well against them in the home match. It was 0-0 after 60 minutes in what was a very tight game. They then scored with a couple of bits of quality play,” added Wilkins, with reference to the 3-0 home defeat to Kettering in early November.

Centre-half Kieran Morphew serves the first of a two-match suspension this weekend, while Wilkins might consider promoting Griffiths to the starting line-up, following his impressive cameo display as a substitute.

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