Nicholls grabs late winner as Leiston gain the Boxing Day points
Southern League Central Premier
Leiston 2 Needham Market 1
Leiston won their first league match since the first Saturday in November as they defeated Suffolk rivals Needham Market today, writes Craig Cooper.
Noel Aitkens failed a late fitness test so in came Ashley Nicholls in to replace him, while Joe Jefford and Byron Lawrence returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Harry Knights and Joshua Moore respectively.
Kyle Hammond’s early cross was easily taken by away keeper Jake Jessop, but Leiston took the lead when Lawrence was fouled and the same player got up to superbly curl the ball into Jake Jessop’s bottom left hand corner.
Callum Sturgess struck wide from a free kick in the 15th minute, but three minutes later the visitors levelled.
Sturgess’ corner into the penalty box evaded everyone and Adam Mills slotted in at the back post.
Nicholls then fired wide for Leiston while Joe Marsden headed off target at the other end. Towards the end of the half, Seb Dunbar was booked for a strong challenge and Marcus Garnham palmed over a delivery from the impressive Sturgess.
At the start of the second half, Jessop parried Lawrence’s free-kick out of play, while after the resultant corner, Lawrence’s strike was blocked.
Needham became the more dominant side for the next 20 minutes, and James Baker’s effort was cleared off the line by Joe Jefford, with Jefford blocking Dan Morphew’s shot from the follow up.
Garnham saved well from Mills and Sturgess and Leiston captain Tom Bullard blocked Baker’s strike well.
Patrick Brothers’ strong run down the left gave Leiston a corner, and Kyle Hammond assisted a great ball to Nicholls, who headed into Jessop’s top left hand corner.
Needham didn’t really threaten from there on in and Leiston held on for all three points that sent most of the 440 supporters home happy.
They will be looking to build on this performance on Saturday when Royston Town visit Victory Road. (3 o’clock kick off). Needham head to Hitchin.
Leiston:- Garnham, Keys, Dunbar, Nicholls (Knights 90 mins), Jefford, Bullard, Lawrence, Hammond, Reed (Finch 72 mins), Blake, Brothers. Subs not used:- Aitkens, Moore, Beckwith.
Needham Market:- Jessop, Dye (Issa 90 mins), Sturgess, Squire (Kamanzi 84 mins), Kieron Morphew, Daniel Morphew, Marsden, Heath, Baker, Ingram (Dobson 84 mins), Mills. Subs not used:- Griffiths, Shorten.