Needham Market 2-1 Stratford Town
Evo-Stik South Premier Central
Report by Bryan Hale
STRATFORD’S 13-match unbeaten came to an end in Suffolk with Needham’s two first-half strikes proving decisive.
Stratford had the first chance of the game in the 10th minute but Mike Taylor put a free header from Will Grocott’s left-wing cross inches wide. Another chance came Taylor’s way soon after when Albi Skendi’s low drive was only parried by keeper Jake Jessup but the Town striker was again off target from the follow-up.
And having had the better of the possession Stratford fell behind on 22 minutes. They failed to properly deal with Adam Mills’ cross from the left and Needham skipper Gareth Heath seized on the loose ball to fire it into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Kynan Isaac had a fiercely-struck effort tipped over by Jessup in the 35th minute before Needham doubled their lead five minutes later. Lewis Wilson dithered on the ball and was dispossessed by Mills who ran on to shoot against keeper Richard Walton and Luke Ingram pounced on the rebound to thump it into the empty net.
Needham went close to going further ahead seven minutes into the second half when Callum Sturgess surged into the penalty area but Walton was smartly off his line to block.
Stratford tried hard to get back into the game but Needham seemed comfortable until they conceded a free kick a couple of yards outside the penalty area with five minutes to go.
Debutant Taylor Morrison, signed in midweek from Alvechurch, drilled it into the bottom corner, but Needham held on for the points.