Needham Market remarkably keep Ryman League North play-off dream alive

Sam Newson

Sam Newson - Credit: Archant

When it comes to the final day of a football season there is usually one team whose hopes rest on an improbable swing in goal difference.

And in the Ryman Division One North that team was Needham Market.

To stand a chance of bursting into the play-offs the Marketmen had to beat visiting Chatham Town and Thurrock had to lose at home to Tilbury.

However Needham still needed an unlikely six-goal swing if they were to leapfrog Thurrock and secure the final play-off spot.

Intent on holding up his side’s end of the deal striker Sam Newson opened the scoring early, his close-range shot hitting the back of the net after just six minutes.

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The second goal took another half an hour to arrive, Kem Izzet playing in Ryan Crisp who slotted home to send Needham in at the break 2-0 up.

Nine minutes into the second half and Newson bagged his second with a diving header, but things started to look bleak when the visitors were awarded a penalty.

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After blocking a shot from Ade Yusuff a slice of bad luck befell Sam Nunn who dropped on the ball in his own area. The referee blew up for handball and pointed to the spot, Matt Solly driving home to make the score 3-1.

But far from thinking it was all over Needham changed up a gear, Newson completing his hat-trick on 57 minutes.

A cool finish from Michael Brothers made it 5-1 meaning one more goal, combined with the hoped-for Thurrock loss, would see Mark Morsley’s men climb that one, crucial place into sixth.

And that goal came, not from a Needham boot, but courtesy of their guests. Chatham defender Corey Holder sent a cross from Crisp the wrong way and into his own net.

With Thurrock behind at home thanks to Tilbury’s 49th minute goal the job was done if everything stayed the same, though Crisp bagged a seventh 10 minutes from time to give Needham a small cushion.

For those keeping an eye on Thurrock’s situation a second goal for Tilbury in the 83rd minute must have brought relief and excitement in equal measure.

Football is often a cruel sport, but on this occasion all fate could throw up was a few minutes of squeaky-bum time when Thurrock pulled one back, but with both Needham and a resilient Tilbury holding on until full-time the Miracle at the Market was complete.

Needham, who duly featured as team of the day on Radio 5 Live, travel to Witham Town tomorrow for the play-off semi-final (7.45ko).

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