Needham Market cruise into the FA Trophy next round, as Arlesey have no answers, with Heath at the double

Needham and Arlesey players battle for possession. Photo; BEN POOLEY

Needham and Arlesey players battle for possession. Photo; BEN POOLEY

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Needham Market 3 Arlesey 1

Jaimie Griffiths battles with an Arlesey player during Needham's win on Saturday. Photo: BEN POOLEYJaimie Griffiths battles with an Arlesey player during Needham's win on Saturday. Photo: BEN POOLEY

Needham Market cruised into the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy beating a spirited Arlesey Town from the Evo Stick South East Division – a level lower than the Bostick Premier side.

The visitors struggling at the foot of their table, made The Marketmen work hard for their win, which came as a morale boost, following four successive league defeats.

Needham boss Richard Wilkins was elated with his side’s second half performance after a mediocre first 45 minutes.

He said: “We wasted situations, made poor decisions and were guilty of sloppy passing, but were more positive in the second half playing good football and creating good chances, but their keeper made four or five fine saves.

Needham skipper Gareth Heath raises his hand to celebrate his second goal. Photo: BEN POOLEYNeedham skipper Gareth Heath raises his hand to celebrate his second goal. Photo: BEN POOLEY

“I was particularly pleased with the efforts of Gareth Heath and Dia Wright in midfield and the attacking play of full back Jake Dye. I am delighted to be in Monday’s draw.”

Needham went in front on 11 minutes when, following a foul on Adam Mills, the evergreen Heath fired home the resultant free-kick with aplomb.

The youthful Arlesey side looked capable playing some neat football but the physicality of the home side was a factor.

A diagonal ball from Darryl Coakley picked out Luke Ingram who turned and fired but Dion Gibbs saved well.

Needham’s expansive football should have paid greater first-half dividends but they held just a 1-0 lead at the break.

The Marketmen largely controlled the game, with Arlesey playing on the break, and nearly extended their lead when Callum Harrison volleyed in the penalty area but Gibbs brilliantly saved.

Needham went close when Mills had an effort blocked and Ingram drilled just wide and in a rare meaningful attack Danny Gay made a great save from Yemi Adelani through on goal with an outstretched foot.

The Marketmen virtually settled the tie on 69 minutes when Mills blasted home from close-range and then an 88th minute third put the result into perspective.

Following continued offensive play the Heath steered a magnificent shot from 28 yards that curled inside the post.

In added time Rafe Goodman scored a consolation for the Bedfordshire side.

Needham now await the arrival of big spenders Billericay Town to Bloomfields on Tuesday evening.

Referee: Mr Ryan Head.

Attendance: 173.

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