We need to win all our remaining games, says Needham Market striker

NATHAN Stone says Needham Market need to win every game between now and the end of the season ahead of tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash at East Thurrock.

Stone has set his sights on automatic promotion from Division One North of the Ryman League, following Needham’s elevation from the Ridgeons League, in addition to winning the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup.

The 26-year-old striker, who made the switch from Ridgeons League Kirkley & Pakefield to Needham in the summer, admitted he didn’t need asking twice.

“I didn’t have to think about moving as I was hoping to play at a higher level. And Danny Laws (Needham’s manager) was quick to remind me when I spoke to him that Needham had beaten Kirkley five times last season!”

Stone’s first season at Step 4 level has seen him sent off twice, play in three games with a broken hand and score possibly the fastest goal in Ryman League history – one of 14 league goals he has scored for the Marketmen.

“Both times I have been sent off for getting two bookings. I know I can be a handful for defenders, but I think both of them were very harsh. You get elbowed, pushed and nipped and the referee doesn’t see it, and then you make two tackles and you are sent off!”

Stone then fell on his hand during the 3-2 win against Ware and carried on playing, believing it was just badly bruised.

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“After two more games it was getting worse and worse and I had to go to hospital, and they could not believe it was nearly three weeks before that I had broken it. I had a cast put on and missed three games which was very frustrating.”

Stone, who said he has since been told the goal he scored after just eight seconds in the 3-3 draw at home to Ilford last month was the fastest recorded goal in the league’s history, is looking forward to tomorrow’s match at East Thurrock, who lead Needham by three points.

“It will be tough – they don’t drop many points and had won 12 games in a row before we beat them 3-0 at home. If we are to get automatic promotion this season we need to beat them, although there is no point in going there and winning and then losing our next game. We need to win all our remaining games this season and see where it takes us.”

Stone, who has never previously played at Portman Road, is also keenly anticipating next Friday’s Suffolk Premier Cup final against Bury Town.

“I have been to watch Newcastle play there and the surface looks immaculate, but it will be the first time I have played there and I am looking forward to the final. It will be difficult against Bury because they are doing well. We will be the underdogs for sure, but that it not a bad thing.”

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