Alvechurch 1 Needham Market 2
Southern Premier Central – Report by Colin Stoner
WINNING and losing is often decided by fine margins. On Saturday, it was a slither of a size 10 boot.
Unfortunately for Alvechurch, the boot belonged to skipper Kyle Morrison as his challenge to block Adam Mills’ left-footed shot could only send the ball looping beyond the right-hand of despairing keeper Matt Sargeant to provide Needham Market with an injury-time winner.
It was desperately cruel on Dean Holtham’s side.
Having fallen behind just before half-time to Callum Page’s smart finish, Church roared back and were rewarded on 87 minutes when Connor Deards equalised with their first league goal in five matches.
A point was the least they deserved but Mills’ strike three minutes into added time left them devastated. Again.
Thanks to heroics efforts from the ground crew, the sodden Lye Meadow pitch was playable despite the sticky surface and Church were on the front foot from the kick-off.
But a failure to take chances has been a familiar tale this season and Saturday was another chapter.
Returning Ryan Winwood was denied by a flying tip-over from Marcus Garnham inside two minutes and Mitch Botfield smashed over and Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls fired into the sidenetting.
Botfield had a golden chance five minutes before half-time, capitalising on a blunder on the left but then fatally hesitating in getting a shot off to allow Dan Morphew to block.
It proved even more costly when Needham took the lead a moment later. Mills created the initial danger ten yards from goal before Page swept home.
The Suffolk side almost added to their lead, only for Sargeant to flip over a Craig Parker strike before half-time and he dragged another effort wide before Luke Ingram wastefully sent a free header over the bar.
But you could sense Alvechurch building momentum and only the crossbar denied Deards’ beautifully-struck right-footer 12 minutes from time before Botfield’s crunching header from Taylor Morrison’s corner was flipped over by Garnham.
But their reward came moments later when Deards met another Morrison flag-kick with a stooping flick from Joe Hull’s header to send the ball flying into the net.
Cue jubilation. Six minutes later as Mills’ deflected strike nestled in the home net after the ball bobbled into his path, the only emotion was despair.
ALVECHURCH: Sargeant, Dovey, T Morrison, Winwood, K Morrison, Hull, Brown-Hill, Botfield, Deards, Ashton (Zazi 63), Bailey-Nicholls (Phillips 74). Subs: Wollacot, Birch, Gill (gk)
NEEDHAM: Garnham; Short (Dye 37), Burgess, N Collard, Diogo, Morphew, Ingram, Heath, Page, Parker (De la Paz 78), Mills (E Collard 90+4). Subs Shorten (gk).
Referee: Alan Cox.
Church are due to play Coalville Town at Lye Meadow tonight (Tuesday) subject to a 1pm pitch inspection.
Prospects, however, are not promising.