Town frustrated by late penalty award
Needham Market 2 Enfield Town 2
After a slow start, a pattern of recent games, Town took the game to Needham in the second half and felt they’d done enough to claim all three points, but the hosts converted an added time penalty to share the spoils.
On a mild afternoon on a lush surface Town’s Drew Roberts picked up an early yellow card for a handling offence as he attempted to convert Aaron Greene’s deep cross from the left. Greene, Town’s outstanding performer on the day, then had a shot which was gathered by veteran home keeper Danny Gay. Darren Purse left the field, but he was soon back on, having been winded after a collision.
Joe Wright was called into action, punching clear from a corner and, shortly afterwards, a low skimmed cross from Ryan Blake on the right somehow eluded the onrushing Mario Noto and Roberts. The visitors’ following thought they had a couple reasonable penalty shouts – for handball against Darryl Coakley and when Mickey Parcell was impeded - but referee Oliver Morris-Sanders remained unmoved.
More good work from Greene led to another Roberts shot being gathered by Gay but Needham came into the game more as the half-hour mark approached when Luke Ingram had a shot parried by Wright and Callum Harrison blazed over from the rebound. Wright then kept out further efforts from Harrison and Ingram.
Increasing home pressure finally bore fruit five minutes before the break when a shot from Ryan Gibbs was kept out by Wright, but Ingram slammed home the rebound from close range amid a cluster of defenders.
Half-time: Needham Market 1 Enfield Town 0
Early on in the second period Jack Higgs and Drew Roberts had headers, narrowly wide from Blake’s cross and gathered by Gay from Greene’s delivery respectively. But Town soon found themselves on terms when Roberts attempted to control another pinpoint Greene cross and after the ball had bounced it was inadvertently diverted into his own net by Coakley.
Gibbs fired a cross-cum-shot across the visitors’ goal as the game opened up and, at the other end, Noto fired wide. A free-kick from Needham’s Joe Wight was well saved by Wright and, with fifteen minutes left, Jack Simmons crossed to the far post but Gibbs couldn’t control or convert. Sam Youngs was similarly fractionally short of making contact with Greene’s dangerous ball in, while another low Blake delivery eluded all Town’s attackers.
Both sides made a number of substitutions and, after Greene had had a couple of shots blocked after cutting inside, Blake was brought down on the very edge of the box. Higgs curled the consequent free-kick beautifully over the wall and beyond Gay for Town’s second after 80 minutes. With Needham now throwing caution to the wind, John Kyriacou was on hand to clear off the line as the remaining minutes ticked away.
Immediately after the board indicating five minutes of added time had been held up, sub Ryan Blackman was adjudged to have handled in the area. From a Town perspective it looked more a case of ball to hand rather than the reverse, but the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Dan Morphew blasted the spot kick virtually straight down the middle. There was insufficient time for Town to recover, but they can take encouragement from their second half performance.
Needham Market: Danny Gay, Jake Dye, Darryl Coakley, Joe Whight, Dan Morphew, Sam Nunn, Ryan Gibbs (Kieran Morphew 71), Gareth Heath, Luke Ingram, Callum Harrison (Billy Holland 80), Jack Simmons. Unused subs: Max Booth, Kieran Turner, James Bradbrook. Booked: Nunn.
Enfield Town: Joe Wright, John Kyriacou, Danny Rumens, Mario Noto (Ryan Blackman 69), Darren Purse, Jack Higgs, Mickey Parcell, Sam Youngs, Ryan Blake (Montell Moore 85), Drew Roberts (Simon Thomas 77), Aaron Greene. Unused subs: Rob Bartley, Ben Ward-Cochrane. Booked: Roberts, Greene, Purse, Youngs, Parcell.