Diamonds secured an important comeback victory to breathe fresh life into their play-off hopes and to get their first victory in four games as they defeated midtable Needham Market at Hayden Road.

The hosts had the better of possession in the opening exchanges, and they came close to taking the lead when Jack Westbrook hit a fierce effort from the edge of the area after being fed by Declan Rogers, but it flew narrowly over the bar. In one of their first forays forward, Needham opened the scoring in the 19th minute. They won a free-kick around 25 yards from goal, and striker Jamie Griffiths stepped up to whip a superb left-footed strike over the wall and past the despairing dive of Ben Heath into the roof of the net. Diamonds responded by levelling only three minutes later. A Sam Brown long throw from the left was flicked on by Alex Collard at the near post, and it ran for Rogers to thunder home a right-footed effort from just inside the area. They almost took the lead only a minute later when Ben Farrell was denied from close range, but Needham then threatened when Joseph Marsden was slipped through on goal only for Heath to come out and smother the ball. The game then settled again, and it appeared the game would be level at the break. However, Rushden forged ahead three minutes before the interval. A free-kick by Heath was inadvertently flicked on by a Needham man and, assisted by the strong wind, it ran for Jack Bowen to drift a header over the keeper and into the back of the net. 

The second half was very bitty and short on goalmouth action. Needham began to have more possession, but struggled to make any inroads into a strong Diamonds defence well marshalled by Collard and Liam Dolman. The wind continued to have a serious impact on the game, and it played a part in a Rogers free-kick being carried towards goal only for the keeper to awkwardly parry it away. Collard made a superb and potentially goal-saving header away when it appeared Griffiths would have a free header from a right-wing cross, and another away attack saw Dolman and then Collard crucially head away. The closest the visitors came to an equaliser was when Dolman attempted a header back to Heath, but the wind accelerated the ball and made it race past Heath only for it to run just wide of the post. Aside from this, the Diamonds keeper had very little to do in the second half, and the hosts saw out the game to claim a vital three points and to move back into the play-off places.

Full Match Report to follow

Diamonds Man of the Match (chosen by match sponsor Edward Bailey): Sam Johnson

Attendance: 410

Match Gallery courtesy of Malcolm Swinden Photography (click on the link to access the Diamonds Photo Gallery for more images from this game and ecommerce options). Copyright Mal Swinden ©2019



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