Needham Market force late draw against Merstham in Ryman Premier
- Credit: Mecha Morton
Needham Market missed a chance to significantly close the gap on the top two in the Ryman Premier on Tuesday night, Mark Morsley’s side drawing 1-1 at home to Merstham.
The Marketmen are now five and four points behind leaders Bognor Regis and second-top Havant & Waterlooville respectively, after a tough night at Bloomfields.
Luke Ingram salvaged a point for the hosts, equalising 10 minutes from time and cancelling out Omar Folkes’ 16th-minute opener.
Needham deserved a point at least for their second-half performance, Reece Dobson hitting the post and John Sands going close on three occasions, but the game could have been out of the home side’s reach before the leveller, Simon Cooper heading against the post and Needham’s Darryl Coakley making a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent Tom Kavanagh getting a shot away after a quick break from the visitors.
Merstham took the lead when Sam Nunn’s volleyed clearance was charged down by the rampaging Folkes, who took a touch before sliding the ball under the body of Danny Gay.
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Merstham almost doubled their lead just before the break, Cooper heading a diagonal free-kick against the bar from close range, before seeing his follow-up blocked on the line by Keiran Morphew.
Sands replaced Jack Simmons on 56 minutes, and the substitute almost made an instant impact, but his close-range volley was palmed to safety by Smith.
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Needham nearly equalised on 62 minutes but after Reece Dobson’s cross-shot struck the inside of the far post, Kem Izzet’s follow-up went narrowly wide.
The game was becoming stretched and Coakley had to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Kavanagh a shot on goal, following a quick break by the visitors.
Sands then missed an excellent chance to equalise, the striker failing to keep his shot down, one-on-one with the ‘keeper, before Ingram did restore parity, the forward swivelling on the ball 10 yards out, following a corner, before firing in a left-foot shot that crashed into the net off the ‘keeper’s right-hand post.
Needham pushed for a winner and Sands should have scored with a late free header, but the ball went agonisingly wide.