Griffiths keeps his cool from the spot with 90th-minute winner
Needham Market 1 Tooting & Mitcham 0
The Marketmen snatched a dramatic win with a 90th-minute Jamie Griffiths penalty to deny the South London club a share of the points that they deserved, writes John Campany.
Richard Wilkins side are comfortably in 17th place in the Bostik Premier Division, but in contrast, the Terrors are fighting for survival, haunted with the threat of relegation following promotion last season.
They remain three points ahead of basement side Burgess Hill, who have three games in hand, with only one team to be relegated. How Tooting would have loved a point from this game.
Wilkins retained the same side that were narrowly beaten 3-2 at Met Police in midweek, but welcomed back Adam Mills to the bench following injury.
The match survived a morning pitch inspection, and the crowd of 265 were entertained on a heavy surface, that proved perfectly playable.
It was a tentative start with neither side in the ascendancy.
The visitors Peter Wedgeworth and Needham’s Luke Ingram both drove over and Tooting’s custodian Matte Pierson comfortably saved a Charley Edge free kick.
Home ‘keeper Daniel Gay smartly blocked Jeuvan Spencer’s rifled shot, while Needham defender Jake Dye produced a great block to halt Danny Bassett’s progress, and then the impressive Omar Folkes sent an effort just wide of Gay’s goal.
Both sides had equal possession, but Matt Drage defended well with Edge looking to take advantage and then Drage received the first of eight yellow cards administered by referee Mr Adrian Sannerude.
Substitute Mills replaced the injured Luke Ingram on 47 minutes and this breathed new life into the home side. Indeed Mills’ arrival lifted the crowd when Brendan Ocran set him up in front of goal, but Pierson distinguished himself with a point-blank save.
Minutes later Mills fired a stunning dipping shot that this time beat Pierson, but struck the bar. The visitors were getting on top with increasing pressure and forced several late corners and the home defence was stretched, resulting in a goalmouth scramble, culminating with the ball striking the foot of the post. But the home side produced a last-gasp winner when Ryan Gibbs, forcing his way into the box, was fouled by Drage and Griffiths made no mistake from the spot.