Needham Market target top five, away at Stratford

PUBLISHED: 08:19 19 January 2019

Dan Morphew, who is fit again after injury and should feature at Stratford Town today. Picture: BEN POOLEY

Dan Morphew, who is fit again after injury and should feature at Stratford Town today. Picture: BEN POOLEY

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Needham Market will soar into the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Central play-off zone, if they can overcome in-form Stratford Town on the road in Warwickshire this afternoon.

Needham Market captain Gareth Heath celebrates putting his side ahead in the 2-1 home win over Stratford, who play host to the Marketmen today. Photo: BEN POOLEYNeedham Market captain Gareth Heath celebrates putting his side ahead in the 2-1 home win over Stratford, who play host to the Marketmen today. Photo: BEN POOLEY

The Marketmen are just one point and one place outside the top five, but today’s hosts Stratford currently occupy that fifth place, so a lot is riding on today’s clash.

“It’s a big game, especially as Stratford have a couple of games in hand over us,” explained Needham boss Richard Wilkins.

“It is very important that we get a positive result. They would be big points for us, although we know that this alone won’t change how the league looks at the end of the season.

“It’s very tight up there. A win would take us into the top five, but then it’s also very tight just underneath us, with a lot of teams pushing and trying to get into that top five,” added Wilkins.

The Marketmen have been in good form, in recent weeks, winning five of their last seven outings, although Stratford have also been clicking into top gear.

Town suffered a 2-1 defeat at Bloomfields in November, but since then they have won seven of their last 10 league matches, with two draws and just one defeat, a 1-0 home reverse to Alvechurch a fortnight ago.

“We want to do ourselves justice this weekend, having already beaten them 2-1 at home this season,” confirmed Wilkins.

“We played very well in the first half of that game, and in fact played very well for 75 minutes until they scored. They put pressure on us for the final 10 minutes and we were hanging on a bit.

“Stratford are a good footballing team, so it will be a stern test for us.

“But we have had some good results recently. We should have beaten Leiston (2-1 away defeat) and we were very flat against King’s Lynn (4-1 home defeat), yet otherwise we’ve been on a good run,” added Wilkins.

Gareth Heath and Luke Ingram were both on target in that 2-1 home win over Stratford.

The Marketmen will be without the suspended duo of Adam Mills and Sam Squire today. Mills serves the second of a two-match ban, while midfielder Squire serves a one-match suspension.

However, defender Dan Morphew is fit again, after coming though training on Thursday.

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