Witham Town progress to Ryman North play-off final after defeating Needham Market 1-0

Mark Morsley

Mark Morsley

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Midfielder Kris Newby's 88th-minute winner fired Witham Town into a Ryman League North play-off showdown at home to Harlow Town on Sunday, and broke Needham Market's hearts.

The midfielder cut inside on to his left foot with time ticking down and fired a long range shot that beat Andrew Plummer down to his left.

The goal was particularly tough on Plummer who had made a number of impressive saves, but it was enough to give Garry Kimble’s men, runners-up to champions VCD Athletic, a second chance to win promotion to the Ryman Premier.

As for Needham, the Marketmen, who secured their semi-final berth with a 7-1 home win over Chatham on Saturday, will have to prepare for another campaign in the North Division.

They went into the game full of confidence and Luke Ingram forced home goalkeeper Martyn Guest to tip the ball over the bar, with a shot from 20 yards, on three minutes.

Tricky left-winger Tom Wraight was providing the hosts’ best moments and he twice forced Needham’s defence into smart clearances behind, as well as testing Plummer from distance.

The Suffolk side almost took the lead on the half-hour in bizarre circumstances. Guest made a hash of a clearance with the same foot and the quick-thinking Sam Newson responded with a 45-yard volley that rolled down the back of the net.

Both teams had early efforts at the start of the second period. Plummer punched away Kris Newby’s long-range effort before Guest collected Michael Brothers’ looping goal-bound header after punching clear.

Hogg then saw his header go inches wide, after meeting Darryl Coakley’s right-wing free kick.

Needham’s Brothers made a hash of two promising situations for the visitors, most notably when, in a four-on-one break, he ballooned the ball over from 20 yards with team-mates better positioned.

With the game entering the dying minutes, Needham had strong appeals for a handball in the penalty box rejected before Ollie Fenn was booked at the other end for hauling down Shami Pedulu just outside the penalty area.

As the teams tired, Newby took aim from distance and his effort beat Plummer low to his left, sending the home fans wild.

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