Needham top after beating Mildenhall

Needham 5, Mildenhall 1: Needham Market comfortably defeated Mildenhall Town 5-1, securing them top spot in the Ridgeons Premier Division.

Needham 5, Mildenhall 1

Title hopefuls Needham Market comfortably defeated Mildenhall Town 5-1 at Bloomfields on Saturday afternoon, writes Liam Apicella.

The score-line was arguably harsh on visiting Mildenhall, who competed well for large spells of the game but couldn't produce the composure in front of goal their hosts displayed.

The first chance fell to Needham's Tommy Smith who blazed over from close range after long throw from James Evans.

The away side, who looked nervy in the opening exchanges, began to play some decent football and went agonizingly close to taking the lead with eight minutes gone.

Ryan Foster's corner was cleared as far as John Sands who instantly volleyed past goalkeeper Liam Jones, but winger Evans got back on the goal line to head clear.

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However, just four minutes later the hosts took the lead. Smith collected a long pass from Pip Boyland before crossing for Harrop who headed his first goal for the club since his summer move from Stanway Rovers.

Sands worked Jones in the Needham goal with a low drive, but it Needham who doubled their advantage in the 22nd minute. Danny Thrower's deep corner was nodded down by Danny Phillips and Craig Parker was on hand to turn the ball home from close range despite James Paterson's efforts on the line.

Mildenhall refused to lie down and on 34 minutes full-back James McCabe centred for Sands who rose well, but headed over Jones' bar from eight yards.

The away side began to dominate and had two golden chances to pull a goal back presented by midfielder Paterson. First Sands raced through but dragged his shot wide of Jones' upright, and then Chris Barrett sprung the offside trap to lift the ball over the advancing Jones, only to see his effort crash against the post.

Mildenhall's failure to find the net was duly punished with half-time approaching. Parker was denied his second of the afternoon by goalkeeper Josh Pope, but the rebound fell to Phillips who was never going to miss from close range.

The away side were looking for an early goal in the second half, and their skipper produced the goods. Ryan Foster floated in a free-kick which Dave Werthman met with a glancing header, leaving Jones no chance.

Any hopes of a comeback were extinguished on the hour though. Thrower released Phillips who beat Pope to the ball and he calmly fired into an empty net from 10 yards.

Three minutes later the scoring was complete with Thrower this time getting himself of the scoresheet, chipping the ball over Pope from the edge of the area.