Needham Market grab crucial Ryman Premier win at Canvey Island

Michael Brothers celebrates scoring Needham's second at Canvey Island

Michael Brothers celebrates scoring Needham's second at Canvey Island

Needham Market took a giant step towards achieving Ryman Premier safety, by winning at mid-table Canvey Island last night.

The Marketmen, in danger of slipping into the bottom four during the business end of the season, retained their seven-point lead over fellow strugglers Brentwood Town, thanks to a couple of quickfire second-half goals from the experienced pairing of Kem Izzet and Michael Brothers.

Izzet slotted home a penalty, while Brothers rammed up a fine second, all within a three-minute period before the hour mark.

So although Brentwood also won, at home to Hendon last night, Mark Morsley’s men remain in control of their own destiny.

Bottom two clubs VCD Athletic and Lewes have already been relegated, while fourth-from-bottom Farnborough will also be relegated, regardless of where they finish, due to financial problems incurred from earlier in the season.

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Needham broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute, when home keeper Conor Gough brought Billy Holland crashing down to the ground inside the box for a clear-cut penalty.

Up stepped Izzet to slot home the spot kick, his precise effort grazing the post and finding the net.

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Just two minutes later and Brothers doubled the Marketmen’s lead, firing an unstoppable angled drive into the bottom corner.

The Gulls halved the deficit in the 77th minute, when a poor back pass by Luke Ingram enabled Martin Touhy to intercept and then bundle the ball into an empty net.

But Needham held on to secure three vital points.

The Marketmen had only arrived at Park Lane just over half-an-hour before kick-off, due to heavy traffic, but they settled well enough during the opening 20 minutes.

Brothers had a volley charged down by a defender on six minutes, while skipper Izzet had the sniff of a chance in the 15th minute.

Izzet latched onto Brothers’ knock-down and managed to clip the ball beyond keeper Gough, at his far post, only for home defender Jake Pitty to intercept and aim his clearance off the former Colchester United midfielder for a goal-kick.

However, the woodwork came to Needham’s rescue in the 21st minute. Centre-half Richard Halle’s looping header, from a free-kick delivered by Ashley Dumas, beat keeper Danny Gay but cannoned back off the bar and dropped to safety.

Needham’s best chance of the first period fell to Ingram, on 35 minutes. The winger had a clear sight of goal, but dragged his low shot across the face of goal and wide of the far upright.

Gulls’ keeper Gough was forced into his first real save just five minutes before the interval, when he beat away a ferocious angled drive by Brothers.

And Holland spurned an even better opportunity in the 42nd minute.

The ball broke kindly for him, but he scooped his shot over the bar from the edge of the box, with Gough hopelessly off his line.

The bar came to Needham’s rescue, just three minutes into the second half as veteran striker Cliff Akurang’s flying header ricocheted back off the woodwork from point blank range, following Marlon Agyakwa’s exquisite cross.

The visitors responded quickly, with Holland almost netting from an acute angle, his effort rolling across the face of goal on 49 minutes.

But Needham then scored twice, in quick succession, to open up a healthy 2-0 lead, via Izzet’s 53rd minute penalty, and then Brothers’ 55th minute low drive.

It was certainly not the Gulls’ night, because they struck the woodwork for a third time in the 65th minute, Harrison Chatting’s shot rebounding off the left upright, before Touhy netted with 13 minutes left to set up a tense finale.

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