Soham And Needham Market Battle It Out For Points

PUBLISHED: 16:16 30 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 May 2010

Soham Rangers manager Ian Benjamin

Soham Rangers manager Ian Benjamin

Needham Market are still in with a chance of snatching the Ridgeons Premier Division title from the grasp of Soham Town Rangers after successive home victories against Harwich & Parkston (2-1) and Histon Reserves (3-0) last week. They trailed the

Needham Market are still in with a chance of snatching the Ridgeons Premier Division title from the grasp of Soham Town Rangers after successive home victories against Harwich & Parkston (2-1) and Histon Reserves (3-0) last week.

They trailed the leaders by three points with a game in hand at the time of writing, but Soham's superior goal difference meant that Needham simply (!) had to avoid defeat at Dereham Town on Tuesday night to set up a last-game title-decider on Saturday - a game they would have to win to deny Rangers the championship.

On the eve of - potentially - the most important match in Soham's history, I had the opportunity to speak to both Ian Benjamin - the Soham boss - and his counterpart in the Needham Market camp, Danny Laws.

Q. What has changed since the early season 3-2 win for Needham Market

against Soham?

IB We've had the ability throughout, but gave away two goals on that day. In terms

of focus and concentration, we've done a lot better since.

DL A lot of football has been played since then. I couldn't say anything has changed

significantly.

Q. Who have been your key players - in defence, midfield and up front?

IB That's a difficult question to answer. The back four have been outstanding for us,

and so has my goalkeeper Lea Jordan. Michael Simpson has been a key player in

midfield of course, and Charles Libam has done well in attack.

DL That's difficult to answer. We have a real team ethic here.

Q. Which team (assuming that Needham managed to avoid defeat at Dereham)

will be under the most pressure on Saturday?

IB They (Needham) will be under the most pressure, undoubtedly.

DL Both teams should be promoted to Step 4 in my opinion. Hopefully the FA will

realise the strength of both teams, and promote both. Soham have won 30 league

games and we've won 29 - surely teams with records like that should be playing

Step 4 football next season? The FA should appreciate the strength in depth of the

Ridgeons League.

Q. If you fail to clinch the title, would you view this as a season of failure?

IB I've already been told that this is the most successful season the club has ever had.

As for the future, I feel very confident.

DL I don't think so. (Needham Market Press Officer Michael Coombes however,

admitted that he would gladly have sacrificed the league title for success in the FA

Vase, in which his side narrowly lost over two legs in the semi-final).

Q. For whatever reason, what have been your best and worst results of the

campaign?

IB Our best win was at Lowestoft, because we had not won there for so many years.

Our worst game was Norwich United away, when we drew. We totally fell away

in the second-half, and it felt more like a loss.

DL I can't think of anything specific. Obviously winning our first 12 league games

was very satisfying.

Q. What good decisions do you look back on, or what would you have done

differently this season with the benefit of hindsight?

IB Hindsight is a wonderful thing! I suppose I would have chosen not to have lost

the five games that we have!

Perhaps switching Martin Bromwich to left back and moving Scott Johnson to the

left of midfield has been one of the most positive moves, particularly away from

home. We looked a lot stronger defensively after that.

DL Nothing in particular, but whatever happens at the end of the season we'll be

looking to improve. Full credit to Soham for what they have done this season.

IB I can't speak highly enough of Needham Market, and Craig Parker - who I don't

think has played since the Vase defeat - has been a big influence for them.

Benjamin's job will have been made much easier if Dereham Town managed to beat Needham on Tuesday night.

"I can't do anything about that," he said, "but Dereham will make it hard for Needham. They are a young side and have got a lot of pace up front.

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