Needham Market keep their Ryman Premier play-off dreams alive with a vital victory

John Sands' early header nestles in the back of the Harrow Borough net. PICTURES: BEN POOLEY.

John Sands' early header nestles in the back of the Harrow Borough net. PICTURES: BEN POOLEY. - Credit: Archant

Needham Market gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the Ryman Premier Division play-offs with a well-deserved 2-1 win over Harrow Borough on Saturday.

Sam Nunn shouts with joy as Needham celebrate Darryl Coakley's brilliant winning free-kick

Sam Nunn shouts with joy as Needham celebrate Darryl Coakley's brilliant winning free-kick - Credit: Archant

After John Sands had given the Suffolk side an early lead, competent Borough levelled midway through the second half, only for left-back Darryl Coakley to win the game for the Suffolk side with an absolutely beautiful 20-yard free-kick 12 minutes from time.

And with most of their play-off rivals winning, this was a massive three points for Needham, who must win at AFC Sudbury on tomorrow if they want to break into the top five.

The Marketmen currently sit in eighth position in the league, one point short of the play-offs, but with an inferior goal difference to their rivals.

Saturday’s encounter wasn’t the most pleasing on the eye, but it was a deserved win for the Suffolk side, who came out on top after a brave second-half switch from boss Mark Morsley.

Needham striker John Sands gets stuck between two Harrow Borough defenders

Needham striker John Sands gets stuck between two Harrow Borough defenders - Credit: Archant


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They deservedly led 1-0 at the break, thanks to striker Sands, who planted Jack Simmons’ brilliant cross into the net.

Sands had further chances to increase Needham’s lead in the first half, firstly firing wide, before unselfishly squaring to Luke Ingram, who fired over under pressure.

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Some good defending from Sam Nunn, under his own crossbar, kept Harrow Borough at bay just before half-time, but the visitors did pull level midway through the second half when substitute Kuris Cumberbatch converted from close range.

In fact, with the visitors’ threat increasing, Morsley then switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2, moving centre-half Keiran Morphew further up the pitch, and putting Ingram wide on the right.

And this move paid dividends almost immediately, with Morphew thundering a bullet header, from a Ingram cross, against the underside of the crossbar in the 77th minute.

Ingram was involved again less than 60 seconds later, winning a free-kick on the edge of the box, which Coakley outstandingly arrowed into the top left corner.

Needham’s tails were up and they almost scored again, but Morphew and Ingram saw their headed efforts well-saved and hacked clear as the Marketmen kept their play-off dreams alive.

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