Soham And Needham Market Battle It Out For Points
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
IB We've had the ability throughout, but gave away two goals on that day. In terms
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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
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
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
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.