Needham Market show their class and Thamesmead have no answer to their skill and guile

Needham Market v Thamesmead. Needham in red. Needham's Ian Westlake rides a challenge.

Needham Market v Thamesmead. Needham in red. Needham's Ian Westlake rides a challenge. - Credit: Archant

Silky-smooth Needham Market eased past Thamesmead Town to keep up their assault on the Ryman North title.

A goal in each half, from Ollie Fenn (13 minutes) and Luke Ingram (57), gave Mark Morsley’s high-fliers a comfortable victory.

With leaders Harlow winning at Soham Town Rangers, the Marketmen – six points behind but with three games in hand – are in a good position for promotion.

However, the race for the title between the two sides looks set to go down to the wire.

As results go, this one appears standard fayre from the home side on Saturday. But it was far better than that.

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Always in the ascendency, Needham Market could have had six goals on Saturday, rather than the two they did muster.

Quite simply they were a class above the south Londoners, who are no mugs themselves – a mid-table, solid unit.

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But they had no answer to the guile and brilliance of Ian Westlake and Kem Izzet in the middle of the park.

The two former pros bossed the game from minute one to minute 90 and their class lifted their team-mates around them.

None more so than youngsters Oliver Brown, Luke Ingram and Rhys Henry.

Brown was a delight at full-back, while Ingram scored a beauty and Henry produced a superb second-half performance, running Thamesmead right-back Lee Coburn ragged.

The fact it was only two was down to missed chances by the home players – with Michael Brothers the chief culprit.

Brothers could not find the net for love nor money, despite a plethora of chances – some he created himself, some that were put on a plate for him.

However, his all-energy performance typified Needham’s day and another clean sheet made it five on the bounce for a defence expertly marshalled by Fenn.

Yet, it was the Londoners – who ended the game with 10 men after Faral Hallam was shown a second yellow card for a crude foul on Needham substitute Ryan Crisp – who started positively.

A snap-shot from Michael Spencer was dealt with by Shaun Phillips in the home goal and there was plenty of good tempo about their early play.

But it didn’t last as Needham got a grip on the game.

Brothers curled a 25-yard free-kick just wide and on 13 minutes they took the lead.

A corner from Darryl Coakley was flicked on by a Thamesmead head and Fenn stooped to head a looping effort over Vincente Mansanet in the visitors’ goal.

It was just what the doctor ordered for Morsley’s side and almost immediately Sam Newson fired over after a long Brothers throw.

Henry danced inside Coburn but fired wide and after the break the chances for Needham continued.

Izzet flicked the ball through for Henry who got himself caught in two minds whether to shoot or cross.

But the second goal came on 57 minutes after Westlake burst through the middle of the pitch, sent a pass out to Ingram, who finished expertly.

With the points safe Needham went in search of more goals.

Henry toe-poked wide and the visitors had their first shot of the second half on 72 minutes.

Brothers curled a shot just past the post and then missed a glorious chance when he shot straight at Mansanet when clean through.

Substitute Crisp set up the Needham No.10, only for Brothers to fire over the bar from eight yards as Thamesmead lost their discipline with Hallam seeing red.

On this evidence, Needham Market have all the right pegs in all the right holes to win promotion this season.

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