GALLERY: Needham Market grab vital Ryman League Division One North victory against Ware
PUBLISHED: 12:48 06 April 2014 | UPDATED: 12:48 06 April 2014
© Steve Waller
Chris Hogg's goal right on the stroke of half-time propelled Needham Market back into a Ryman North play-off position as they edged past a plucky Ware side on Saturday.
After a somewhat surprising 4-2 defeat to Maldon & Tiptree last weekend, where the Marketmen found themselves 3-0 down at one stage, many people must have dismissed Needham’s play-off hopes this season.
But a return of nine points from three games in the last week, including this ugly but equally impressive win over Ware, proved that Mark Morsley’s men have hit the ground running at just the right point as the season draws to a close.
Having flirted with the play-offs all season, Morsley’s men have now finally forced their way into the desired zone with just six games to go and, on this evidence, will be giving it their all to stay there.
This was hardly a classic and probably will be one of the least remembered Needham victories of the season but quite frankly, the hosts won’t care.
From the off, they were in determined mood, and driven on by ex-Hibernian star Hogg, they put three big points on the board to crank up the pressure on their fellow promotion hopefuls.
There was just the one goal to talk about and it came from a player who captained Hibs to their Scottish League Cup triumph in 2007 and had only ever scored three league goals in more than 170 appearances at professional level.
Like with Ian Westlake and Kem Izzet, many people were surprised when Morsley managed to persuade a player of Hogg’s quality to take the step down to non-league level, but after an understandable settling in period, the 29-year-old looks to have really got to grips with the challenge.
Instrumental in their outstanding 1-0 midweek win over Witham Town, where he picked up the man-of-the-match accolade, Hogg arguably deserved the same award on Saturday with a match-winning performance, although the excellent Luke Ingram would have had something to say about that.
Despite being 21st in the table, a victory over opponents Ware was certainly not a given before kick-off, and the Blues certainly didn’t roll over against Needham who were pushed all the way for the points.
Seemingly doomed earlier in the season, a recent off-field takeover, and therefore turnover in personnel and results, has given the Hertfordshire-based outfit a fighting chance for survival and they might have felt they could’ve nicked a point but it was Needham’s day.
Too often this season the Marketmen have drawn games that they should have won, but this victory typified their recent bullish exploits.