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Dry January (well not really)

Written by Mark Morsley on .

In my last Musings I mentioned the weather that was tad damp and that we might lose the Brentwood game.  Well that prediction was correct and we did not get a game until January 17th when Thamesmead visited Bloomfields.

Having had a really tough match away I was not sure what to expect from the Mead in this match but I wanted to make sure my team were prepared well.  Historically we are a big sluggish after a break in games but I am glad to say there was no problems on that front. 

In fact by the end of the match we had pretty much domineered the proceedings.  This led EADT Chief Sports writer Mike Bacon to describe the game as one of most one sided 2 nil victories he had ever seen.

Thankfully Sam Nunn was back in the team, which allowed pseudo centre half Luke Ingram to return to a more familiar position wide in midfield.  With Steve Holder not fit the No.11 shirt went to Rhys Henry.  During the pre-match talk I flagged up my concern that we had not scored from a set piece for a while and I wanted to see our central defenders being more aggressive in the opposition box. I also mentioned (tongue in cheek) to Ingers that he had not scored since his penalty miss a few weeks earlier. 

Well don’t you just love it when a plan comes together as we took the lead from an Ollie Fenn header following a corner, which was nothing less than we deserved having started the game really well.  Leading by a solitary goal at the break there was a real need to finish this game of and our attacking play was very good although this was supported by an excellent defensive action.  Messrs Brown, Fenn, Nunn and Coakley were all excellent and it was no surprise that Browny took the MotM award.

Carrying on the theme of getting what you want was our second goal that came from a great strike from Ingers.  To be fair we were never in much trouble and although our guests worked hard they never threatened Shaun in goal.

Next up was Barkingside who in the reverse fixture back in September on the rather bobbly Ilford FC pitch gave us a match that we had to really dig in to win.  The scoreline was 1-0 thanks to an Ian Westlake goal.  On the night we were given a real scare and it was a game that keeper Shaun Phillips really stepped up to the plate with an aerial bombardment in the final few minutes that had to be dealt with.

In recent weeks however their results had been poor and to be honest based on the appalling discipline shown in this match it was no surprise.  When a team who are in a relegation battle cannot work hard together for everything but instead prefer to get involved in off the ball incidents and abusing the officials then there is something really wrong.  By the end of the game there had been 3 sendings off, one of which hadn’t even got off the subs bench and for what its worth on this display the Essex Senior League will be calling them.  Pity really as the club officials I spoke to before the game we really decent East End guys; I would have liked to have heard what they had to say about it all.

Despite going behind very early on we made amends to run out 4-1 winners with goals from Kieran Morphew, Michael Brothers and 2 from Sam Newson; it could have be somewhat more.  There was a good news story with Thurrock beating Harlow 2-1 which meant we were 3 points behind with 3 games in hand and a better goal difference.

Sadly, in that game, Hawks midfielder Sam Holloway suffered a badly broken leg towards the end of the first half.  My best regards goes to him and hopefully he’ll be back applying his midfield abilities before too long.

So we moved onto Aldis Park home of Dereham Town for one off our ‘catch up’ games.  The new away strip had its debut in what we knew would be a really tough game.  The Magpies don’t drop many points at home so we needed to be at our best.

 

Kem and Morphs in the 'Lazio' kit?!?!

To be honest for large parts of the game we played very well and I really believe deserved something out of the game.  However we made two really poor mistakes from bad decisions, which we were punished for.  Trailing 1-0 at the break News got us level and for 25 minutes or so there looked only one winner.  It was not to be and credit must go the Matt Henman and his team who defended stoutly and when they had their chances scored to take all 3 points with a 3-1 victory.

Last Saturday we tripped across Essex to Maldon & Tiptree, a ground where I have never won.  Although many games were off due to snow and frost, The Wallace Binder Stadium pitch was in fine nick.  The game started in blizzard like conditions and a fairly even start changed around the 20-minute mark.

Firstly The Jammers opened the scoring with us looking very sluggish in defence and then we lost stalwart Ollie Fenn to a straight red card.  This was a reaction to an appalling challenge and although I do not in anyway condone what Fenny did I have to say that I was sure the offending home player would following him down the tunnel.  This wasn’t to be with only a yellow produced.

Before I continue I want to make an observation about the fast tracking of Referees particularly younger ones who (maybe) have not played the game.  I really try and be as supportive of the officials in every game we play, even when I feel a bit hard done by.  Certainly I have no time for the various managers, coaches and benches who just berate the men in black.  However I really believe that we were the victims of some good ol ‘gamesmanship’ in this game and the man in the middle just did not have the experience and maturity to deal with this.  I know that without officials we cannot play and I hope these comments don’t come back and ‘bite me in the arse!!’  I just hope that the powers that look after the officials plan their appointments allowing the particular young Ref to develop his skills and not incur the disbelief and frustrations of some of the relevant managers and players.

Back to the game, down to 10 men I have to pay tribute to my team, as they were terrific.  Using the 3-4-2 formation we took the game to our hosts and that man Ingram equalized late in the first half.  In the second half we pushed on and with no thought of bringing the bus in front of the penalty area tried to win the game.  In fact anyone watching may have thought who was a man short with considerable time wasting tactics implemented.

HOW THINGS USED TO BE

Now while I am in that vein of thought why is it that firstly Refs do not book players, particularly goalkeepers for excessive time wasting and also why have they dropped to 6 second rule that a keeper can hold the ball?  The time wasting causes more frustration than any other issue on the pitch.  The holding of the watch and saying the time is added on just doesn’t cut it.  Get the bloody card out Mr Ref!!

So for the second time back to the game, which ended up as a 1-1 draw which was not at all bad, especially as Heybridge had inflicted the first home defeat on Harlow so a point gained.

I am typing these Musings as last nights game at Tilbury had fallen foul of the winter weather so I am looking forward to Saturday visit of Romford.

In my last notes I mentioned that ex Needham legend Danny Laws had taken charge of AFC Sudbury in our match but now they have appointed Jamie Godbold as their new 1st team Manager.  I like Jamie, he was a great player having given loyal service to Lowestoft and landing this plum job after cutting his teeth at Kirkley as their manager is probably what he deserves.  Certainly his first few games have started well as they now look nailed on as a team to battle in the play offs.  I am hoping they can continue that good form on Saturday when they entertain league leaders Harlow!

December Delight

Written by Mark Morsley on .

My last Musings finished with my confidence that the Ware defeat was a water shed moment and a feeling that the squad would move forward in a positive fashion. Well I am glad to report that as it stands we had an excellent reaction to that defeat and this has allowed a real turnaround in the leading position in the Ryman League Division One North.

This has happened firstly due to 4 wins, 7 goals scored and nil conceded and secondly because of Harlow’s Achilles heel that being playing on English Non-League pitches in the Winter. Defeats against Maldon & Tiptree and Thamesmead plus draws against Brentwood Town and Cray Wanderers means 10 points dropped and a slight change in the championship battle.

Mind you saying all that its still really close with plenty of clubs also in the chasing pack all of which makes for an interesting second half of the season.

Going back to the start of the month and an away visit to Cheshunt. We changed the shape of the team for this game and moved flexi-man Ollie Fenn to join Sam Newson upfront. This worked like a dream and we scored twice in the first half through our new strike duo. The second half was more of the same except no more goals but a very solid performance.

I like Cheshunt as a club and the plans they have are really exciting. They have a really forward thinking Chairman who is a thoroughly decent guy and I hope they develop in the way he has portrayed to me.

Cheshunt Chairman Dean Williamson - Big plans! 'Good luck Dean'

This was a good warm up from two massive games, starting with the visit of Thurrock to Bloomfields. This match turned out to be what can only be described as a bruising encounter with us to try and achieve a notable ‘double’ having won at Ship Lane earlier in the season.

The plan was to stick with the same team that had won previously but an injury to Sam meant that Michael Brothers joined Fenny in a formidable looking attack. The game was littered with niggly fouls and a very heavy, over grassy pitch did not lend itself to any free flowing football.

Saying that any decent passing that did take place was by the Marketmen and it was Bruvs with 2 fine strikes in first 45 minutes that gave us a deserved lead, with no more goals at the interval.

he second half was probably punctured somewhat more by the tactics of The Fleet and there was no shortage of bookings. In fact one of the yellow cards shown was at Sam Nunn which meant it was his second and he was sent off. The joke about this decision is the player who made the foul was Chris Hogg with the ref getting the wrong person.

We had previously lost Ollie Brown to an injury and then Hoggy was clattered by a horror tackle that got the Thurrock player a straight red card. The damage was immense and at the time it looked like a torn medial ligament and an extended period on the treatment table. To think that the Thurrock bench and some players were trying to justify this suggesting Hoggy made a meal of it was laughable to say the least.

That attitude looks even more crass as Hoggy had to have a scan which has shown severe medial ligament damage and an extended period of treatment on the physio bench will be needed. So to the loud fouled mouthed Thurrock fan who felt the need to tell me, through a barrage of colourful metaphors, my player was a cheat, well how do you feel now Cabbage Head!?!?

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Soon after we lost Bruvs also to injury so young Tobie Stollery joined the frame as the loan striker as the rest of the team battled to keep the clean sheet, helped by an unbelievable save from Shaun Phillips, meant the 3 points were ours.

Next up were the league form team Wroxham, who were sitting in 3rd place. This was a game that we really needed to start well and really make home advantage count. As it turned out the start was far better than I could have expected with Bruvs scoring two stunning goals in the first quarter of an hour.

His first was a delightful left footed shot that curled into the top corner but his second was really easy on the eye. A sharp passage of passing saw Bruvs himself flick the ball round the corner where it ended up with News crossing for him to score again.

The Yachtsman just weren't in the game and the only surprise was that there were no more goals by half time.

We expected some sort of reaction from Stuart Larter's men but we were really solid in defence and absorbed the best our guests could offer. This allowed us to play on the counter attack and again we opened Wroxham up with comparative ease. I believe on the day the big players in their line up didn't perform and we were very solid and thoroughly deserved the win.

Next up was the New Years Day local derby with AFC Sudbury. This is a game which always has many twists mainly due to my connections with the yellows but a further twist was added to this match made it very interesting. Manager Dave Batch and his staff had tended their notice a couple of days before (I would like to wish them all the best at St. Neots) and into the breach stepped AFC U21 manager and Needham Market FC legend Danny Laws.

As most of you know Danny and myself worked together at Needham when the club gained promotion to the Ryman league as Ridgeons League champions. I like him immensely and he is an excellent manager, as his CV will show. As has been shown many times team often raise their games when a manager leaves so I knew that Dan would want to show a good account of himself and his team, especially as this was his first return to Bloomfields in the opposition dugout.

The game itself did not lack any incidents or drama but it did lack huge amounts of quality play. I am pretty sure that sales of the match DVD have been pretty nonexistent.

New signing Steve Holder made his debut and he would have a baptism of fire in Ryman League football. In fact the first challenge he met happened to be a tackle that would have been more at home in a Bruce Lee film with the Sudbury Captain making a decent attempt at taking Holds’ head off! It was no real surprise that a red card was shown.

'Is your head still attached Holds?!?!'

Playing against 10 men as has often been shown can be difficult and in fact we had domineered the away game at Kingsmarsh earlier in the season with only 10 men. Sudbury were certainly battling and despite Danny trying to organize his troops to make our life difficult there seemed a lot of yellow shirts that felt that taking a more agricultural approach would benefit more.

To my teams credit we did keep trying to get the ball down and play but it was very difficult. The part of our performance that did please me was despite having a few players not at their best no one hid up and how we stuck together was commendable.

As the game went on we looked the more likely to score as AFC tired but going into injury time I felt that we would not get the goal we probably deserved. The 6 minutes left to play were lively to say the least. Firstly the Sudbury No3 got his marching orders for, lets say, being slightly aggressive towards Luke Ingram (who deserves a mention for showing maturity to get away and not incur a second yellow card). The other key point was that Bruvs managed to find a bit of space to get a cross in for News to steal in and score. We kept our shape well to see the game out and take, what I believe, was a deserved win.

For Sudbury I suspect a disappointment although it must be a bigger concern that over the two games they have had 5 players sent off! I also think it’s a shame that a minority of the Sudbury supporters somehow believe that throwing verbal abuse at me somehow benefits their team?! I had two great years there and myself and my team were very successful. We played great football and entertained average attendances in excess of 400 per game. I would add though that the large majority of the faithful Yellows fans are always great and have a chat; a lot of them are often seen at Bloomfields, which is great – long may it continue.

As I write these notes we have missed a couple of games due to the rain and the Brentwood game this weekend must be in doubt. However the staff have kept the players on their toes and when a game does arrive we will be right ready for it.

Also since my last notes we have announced the opening of a second Needham Academy in conjunction with Brantham Athletic FC. I have a lot of good friends at that club so I am really pleased that they will benefit from this collaboration. It will allow players from another part of Suffolk and few from Essex to develop their football skills with the new Head Coach Kem Izzet as well as continue their education.

As much as I am pleased to see every one of our scholars who makes his mark in our first team I will also be pleased when the first Scholar from the Brantham site gets into their first team or progresses into ours. Two great clubs run by decent football minded people makes me think that this ‘marriage’ can only grow and grow with benefit to both parties. It also gives me an excuse to meet my old mate and Brantham Chairman Peter Crowhurst for a couple of beers (like we need an excuse?!?!?).

All the best for the New Year to one and all.

MJM

Collectively we need to improve

Written by Mark Morsley on .

It has been a while since my last Musings, something I would apologise for as I know there is a regular readership who enjoy hearing my insights in to all things around the Needham 1st team.

October was a bit of a blow out for me as I reached the grand old age of 50 and with it a golf trip to Southern Ireland and a Mini Cruise as well as one or two pints of beer or glasses of wine where enjoyed.

As it has turned out however this was a month that was not as jovial for me in my football management career.  After starting with a win at Romford we would only manage one more success in the month, that being a topsy turvy match against Maldon & Tiptree.

I would say that it was key for the development of our Academy that the games against both Leiston (League Cup) and Mildenhall Town (Suffolk Prem Cup) were narrowly lost (Leiston on penalties) but the line-ups for the games were off a very youthful nature.

As a manager this taught me many things about the next batch of ‘Horlock babes’ and the outstanding performances of Adam Mills in these two games meant he became the latest Scholar to pen a 1st Team Contract taking him at least until the end of season 2015/2016.

I believe that the biggest disappointment in that bunch was the loss to Witham Town in the FA Cup.  My reasons have nothing to do with the ‘hype’ and ‘BS’ that surrounded that fixture but it was the fact for an hour we dominated the game but as has become a feature of our play recently we never scored the goals we really should have.  Fair play to Gary Kimble and his team, as they were ruthless when they had their spell and two quick goals was enough for them to move onto to the next round.

We looked to draw a thick line under that month and started November with a stunning performance of attacking play when we put 5 past Burnham Ramblers and also on the Tuesday night were victories at Waltham Abbey in an excellent match with 2 goals scored with no reply.

This set us up nicely for the game against title favourites Harlow Town on the Saturday.  It was an indication of the huge commercial success the 4G pitch at Barrows Farm when we arrived to see 3 separate youth team games going on and the pitch available for further usage after our match. 

The Hawks have a single opportunity to move to the heady heights of non-league football, with an excellent support (400+ for our game), Conference facilities and a steamily unlimited source of finance.  Fair play to them, I like their Manager Danny Chapman immensely, they have stuck by him and it will be a real challenge for us, or any other of the other pretenders to the title to overcome them.

On to the game, it really was a case of the team that took their chances when they were on top won they day and that is exactly what Harlow did.  They took the lead in their opening surge, which had us very much on the back foot, but we got back into the game after 20 minutes or so but could not score by half time. 

The second period was started with us very much on the front foot and we did score the goal we deserved but we just did not take advantage of this pressure and as the Hawks got back into the game so they showed their cutting edge to regain the lead and consequentially keep it.

We bounced back nicely with wins against Redbridge and Chatham, with new signing Rhys Henry having an excellent game and scoring, allowing me to feel that November would end up being a decent month.  However Great Wakering Rovers away was a very poor performance where we got our first draw with a 2-2 result but really it was a game we barely deserved that. 

 

RHYS HENRY IN HIS LEISTON DAYS

Moving onto Saturday just gone and I really wanted there to be a massive positive reaction but I cannot really say it was the case.  On paper we were very strong but as is the case football is played on grass not paper and despite having by far the lions share of the play we just did not do enough in the final third.

To be honest we had signed Michael Brothers on the week preceding (many thanks got to James Webster and Brightlingsea for the way they handled the transfer) and with him leading our front line we looked a real threat but a pulled hamstring put pay to his ‘debut’ and from then we were not good enough.

 

FAMILIAR FACE?!!?

So as I sit here on the first day of December I find myself being reasonable philosophical about the next 5 months or so.  We are in a far better place in terms of consistency, goals scored and points gained than we were last year but we really need to become more solid.  If we have games like the one at the weekend against Ware we need to know that if we are not going to score then we must make sure we do not concede!  This has happened to us at home a few times this year and it will be addressed in the week on the training pitch.

From the depression of the post match examination of the Ware defeat has been a selection of Social Media rally cries from the group and from that I am really looking forward to the next match and the rest of the season!!  Deep down I know my squad are the best in the division and if we can all get that belief it can create a wave of energy and determination that will take us on the winning run that we need. 

All the best

MJM

 

It’s still a funny ol game!!

Written by Mark Morsley on .

I start this edition of my ‘Musings’ with a bit of a negative performance with a 2-1 home defeat against Heybridge Swifts. If the match itself was analysed by a Sky Sports statistician they would say it was a game we should have won easily with their Keeper the best player on the pitch and us having many corners and bags of the ball.

Cruising at 1-0 up we dropped our standards for the final few minutes of the first half, which allowed Swifts to score with two fine strikes.  It just shows that at this level nothing can be taken for granted and that short period where we lacked concentration would end up being our undoing.

The second half followed much of the same vein in terms of possession plus our guests were reduced to 10 men.  But, much like the home defeat against Brentwood, we lacked that bit of guile to undo Heybridges stubborn defending.

They say there are 3 ways to attack - go through them, go over them or go round them.  Successful teams adapt to all three and we have to be better in this area when teams turn up and park their bus on our pitch!

I don’t believe my team had half an eye on the FA Cup fixture against the London Tigers on the Saturday but when that match started we totally dominated the first half, controlling possession and the only real surprise was that we were only 2-0 up at the break.  Ryan Crisp scored the second but it was the quality of the first that had the management team purring (this is the new in word now the Queen has used it?!?!?).

A long ranging diagonal pass from Chris Hogg picked out Darryl Coakley whose pin point cross was met by the on-running Sam Newson to score with a well placed powerful header into the top corner.

We started the second half like a train and Crispy scored his 2nd and our 3rd meaning we were in a very comfortable position.  This gave me the chance to make some changes with James Crisell, Ace Howell and Brother Lemall making his debut entering the frame replacing Chris Hogg, Ian Westlake and News.

But don’t you just love the FA Cup when, totally against the run of play, an excellent free kick and then a scrambled goal gave us a bit of ‘squeaky bum time’.  However we had not counted on the Howell roadshow taking over with 2 goals from each brother ensuring easy passage and a 5-3 win. 

I believe that a bit too much is always mentioned about the dodgy 15 minutes in a game, I however want to concentrate in the excellent play we had for the vast majority of the match which, at times, drew applause from large sections of the excellent crowd. 

Next up were Brightlingsea Regent.  Over the past few years James Webster and his team at North Road have achieved incredible success in taking leagues by storm bringing them to their current heady heights.  It also seems like they are acclimatising to life in Ryman League Division One North this season and will become a very welcome addition to our league.  

They again came with the intention of not giving us an inch with a high pressing game the plan.  To be fair that is hard to maintain plus it does suit because it allows us to find space higher up the pitch. 

It was no surprise that News scored twice in the first half, he is in a rich vein of goal scoring form at the moment – long may it continue.  This was a decent game and Regent did make it hard for us throughout the half.  Luke Ingram put us 3 up early in the second half and that was followed by another triple substitution with George Clarke, Ryan Crisp and the returning Danny ‘Dev’  Cunningham replacing Ingers, News and Lamell Howell.

Sam the man!!

The game fired up 10 minutes later, but not in a good way for us, when Westy handled to ball on the goal line while defending a corner.  With the rules as they are he was sent off plus Regent converted the penalty.  This obviously gave the game a twist plus we were somewhat overloaded with offensive players, but the lads stepped up their work rate keeping the ball well and George scored to confirm the win.

Last Saturday we travelled to Thurrock to meet Romford who use this as their current home.  Romford were the form side in the final 3 months of last season and they are always a tough team to play.  We were pretty much at full strength and started the first half really well.  It was shaping up to being another performance like at Soham and Cambridge as we passed the ball for fun.

Ingers opened the scoring with an early contender for goal of the season when he smashed home following Westy squaring the ball to him on the edge of the box.  We were pretty much dominating the game now and a great surging run from Ollie Fenn ended up with him scoring our second.

The only surprise during the half was that we didn’t not put the game totally out of Romford’s reach although that man Newson did score our 3rd on the stroke of half time.  The second half was a bit scrappy with our hosts breaking up play and ‘getting into our faces’ as is their way.  I was disappointed as this knocked us of our game and it was no surprise when Romford reduced the arrears. 

This did spark us back into life as well as the introduction of the Howell brothers and Dev which meant we were able to frustrate the ‘Boro to see the game out.  Overall however it was the first half performance that I enjoyed and that was Needham at their very best.

This brings us up to Tuesday evenings League Cup match away to Leiston.  This is the first time I have returned to my old hunting ground to play the Blues and it was always my intention to use this competition to give the opportunity to a few of Kevin Horlocks Academy starlets.

On the night this proved to be sound judgement with the Needham team giving a very strong home team a real test.  Our excellent away support was down somewhat on numbers but those who did make the trip were raving about the quality of the football played.  On show, without doubt, were players who will be a part of the future of the club, so when they are next on show the Marketmen travelling army at the game will know exactly what to expect.

Academy Head Coach Kevin Horlock who can be proud of his lads after the Leiston game

During the game we played very well, we were lively and bright and the only surprise was that there was no score at halftime, with both teams having decent chances.  The second half was of the same level and Ace Howell scored an excellent goal to put us in front.  Collecting the ball in midfield he drove through the Leiston defence and chipped the home keeper for a stunning strike. 

Unfortunately we were not able to stop Joe Jefford powering a header in for an equaliser and that was how the game finished.  Straight to penalties as is the rule in this competition and we were not so sharp in that area.

Losing on penalties might end up being a defeat but the winners on the night were Needham Market FC, in particular the Academy.  I enjoyed the game, which drew much praise from many Leiston supporters.  That was very pleasing for me as they were very good to me in my 2-½ years there and they gave me a great reception.  For the record first team debuts last night were for Jake Dye, Jack Newman, Connor Ward plus other Academy lads on show were James Bradbrooke and Adam Mills all of which expect to be seen again soon.

The FA Cup - the greatest cup competition in the world

This weekend we entertain Witham Town the FA Cup in what should be an interesting game.  The Town are adapting well since their promotion to Ryman Prem and will give us a real test.  Although it does not happen to often being the underdogs helped at Cambridge City and we are certainly in the same position here. 

All of the club will need to be on top form to get that little bit closer to the exciting 1st round proper but well before that will be this intriguing encounter.  Too many subplots to even mention and I 100% know that to be successful we have to play the game not the occasion and that will be the approach we all will take.

All the best
MJM

Credit to the lads!!

Written by Mark Morsley on .

5 games have passed since my last Musings, all very different but with one common denominator that being they have all been victories.  Lets not get ahead of ourselves though as this journey runs for 46 league games with a few cup ones thrown in but while the team are performing so well lets enjoy it. 

2 ½ weeks back we went to Thamesmead, a team relegated from Ryman Prem, to try and put a dent in their unbeaten home record.  The Mead were a pacey offensive side, which caused us a few problems throughout the game. 

I was pleased with the durability that we showed by twice coming back from being behind and then dominating the end of the game that cumulated with George Clarke coming off the bench and smashing the winner into the roof of the net.  Our other two goals in the 3-2 win were scored by Luke Ingram and Darryl Coakley.

This was the first time we have faced coming back from a losing position and to do it twice then to push on for the victory shows a level of confidence in the group.

We had a quick return to London on the following Monday night to Ilford’s ground where Barkingside have pitched up this year.  The playing surface at the Cricklefield Stadium is not the greatest and it can make a match a bit of a lottery.  

I was pleased with the work ethic particularly in defence, as we had to deal with a rear guard aerial bombardment for the last 20 minutes of the game after being pretty much in control for most of the match.  Our Keeper Shaun Phillips was rightly made Man of the Match for an outstanding performance that kept our clean sheet meaning that Ian Westlake’s goal was enough for the 3 points. 

Having an extra day to rest was welcome as we travelled to the Glass World Stadium to meet Cambridge City in the FA Cup on the following Saturday.   It was a game I was relishing, I wanted to see how we would do against a team who were having a great season in the Southern League Premier Division (Step 3 against us from Step 4).  To say that we more than matched our guests could be considered as an understatement.

We were excellent in the first half, keeping good possession and opened City up time and time again.  Sam Newson got the first and Ryan Crisp used the hammer left foot to put us 2-0 up.  Half-time arrived and we didn’t want that as it gave Gary Roberts the chance to regroup his troops and try and get back into the game.  Knowing Gary as I do and what an excellent manager he is I knew it would be a very different half.

Two goals from Cambridge in 3 minutes put the Lilywhites on level terms and we were ‘under the cosh’.  At this stage 2 of our front 3 were often occupying the full back positions and I was tempted to speak to the bus driver to see if he could re-park the supporters coach?!?!? 

I made the change to bolster our midfield putting Brendan Heath on and also add some pace to the front line with Ace Howell also joining the frame.  Trusting youngsters has been a key part of our season and it will be a major part of any progress we as a club make.

 

Morsley's Babes

We got back into the game as Ace showed his fleet of foot ability by stealing the ball and going round City’s custodian to put us ahead again.  The game was really open now but we kept our shape and the ball, which allowed News to score his second and our fourth to ensure victory.  A home game against London Tigers awaits us on Saturday.

Three days later we had, what I considered, the toughest game possible with a trip to 3rd placed Soham Town Rangers.  I hoped that we were able to maintain the level of performance we had seen at Cambridge and I was not disappointed.

Although caught cold in the first few minutes to concede our reaction was first class with News again popping up at the back post to equalise.  We dominated the rest of the half with the only thing missing was another goal (or two!). 

The second half followed the same pattern with us having plenty of possession but we maintained our patience which allowed News to scored again in the 70th minute and then Ingers smashed the ball into the roof of the net to seal what was a truly great team performance.  I am also pleased to report that it was my first ever win at Julius Martin Lane, a great time to end that hoodoo?!?!?

On the night we really ‘clicked’ and I pay tribute to Soham Manager Stave Fallon who applauded my team and was very complimentary of our performance.  To hear that from a guy with his knowledge and experience was humbling and I thank him for that.

Last Saturday we welcomed Cray Wanderers to Bloomfields.  Cray, like Thamesmead, had come down from the league above and were finding life tough in Division One North.  In fact we were pretty much at either ends of the league table at kick off.

It was key not to underestimate them, particularly as they parted company with their manager the previous Tuesday.  They were a big team who worked really hard giving us a tough game.  Despite losing the game there is no way they will remain in the same position.  We had to be sharp, none more though than News who is in a rich vein of form right now.

Two excellent goals in the first half followed by a sweet left footed strike (yes I know, left foot!!) confirmed his hat-trick as well as an important 3-0 victory.  I was particularly pleased with this win as we were missing both Chris Hogg and Sam Nunn so a change in defensive shape and a switch from midfield by Kieran Morphew was called for, I suppose a clean sheet speaks volumes for how well they did.

All the best

MJM 

Seriously Steve........................!!!!

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