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1st Team - Match centre

Needham Market
G Heath (20'), B Lawrence (31', 44'), P Brothers (52'), N Muir-Merchant (57')
Full time
Mon 2 Jan 15:00 - The Ryman Football League - Premier Division Attendance 414

Blues 5 Needham Market 1

Five star Blues kick off the New Year in style

Leiston began the new year in style with an impressive 5-1 home victory over local rivals Needham Market on Monday in a MATCH SPONSORED BY ALAN CRANE & TIM JACOBS. A brace from Byron Lawrence and goals for Niko Muir-Merchant, Patrick Brothers and Gareth Heath were more than enough to see off the challenge from Needham who’s second half goal from Luke Ingram was no more than a consolation writes Oliie Fairs . The most notable change to the Leiston team was without a doubt the return of captain Tom Bullard to the centre of defence after recovering from an injury picked up earlier in the season.

Leiston were on top from the very first minute of the game and dominated the entire first 45 minutes. They were playing some calm, patient football along the deck but were also able to switch it up and go long when needed. When they did lose the ball they worked back to put pressure on the man with the ball within a blink of an eye to win it back and get forward once again.

After all the good passing football being played no one could have guessed how the first goal would come. The Blues won a corner in the 20th minute which Gareth Heath swung in from the left and his cross missed everyone in the box and flew into the back of the net without anyone touching it to make it 1-0 to Leiston. Another good chance came Leiston’s way when Byron Lawrence made a run to the bi-line and cut the ball back to Ollie Brown in the box who’s shot seemed goal bound but came off a Needham defender and went out for a corner. Leiston went forward again in the 30th minute with Matt Blake making a great run in behind before he held the ball up and lay it into the path of Byron Lawrence who took a touch to get the ball out of his feet before hammering the ball hard and low into the back of the net to double Leiston’s lead. Leiston continued to create chances and stretch the Needham back four when Matt Blake had a shot of his own well saved before Needham keeper Danny Gay did superbly well again to stop a Tom Bullard header from point blank range to stop the Blues running away with the game. Things got even worse for the Marketmen when the Blues scored their third with just seconds of the first half remaining, Byron Lawrence picking up the scraps after a Niko Muir-Merhant shot was parried into his path allowing him to score his second of the game.

The Blues showed no sign of slowing down at the start of the second half and they thought that they had made the perfect start when Niko Muir-Merchant had the ball in the back of the net just seconds after play resumed, only for it to be ruled out by the linesman for offside. There was no debate however when 6 minutes into the second half Seb Dunbar picked up the ball on the left wing after having a cross deflected and rolled it back to Patrick Brothers who was sat on the edge of the box. He then took one touch and curled the ball brilliantly in off the post to score Leiston’s fourth and put them well out of sight. It wasn’t long before the Needham keeper was picking the ball out of his net once again, this time due to very unusual circumstances. Matt Blake made yet another dangerous run in behind but his shot was saved and the danger seemed to be gone when the ball fell to a Needham defender but his clearance rebounded straight off of Niko Muir-Merchant, who did well to close him down, and hit the back of the net to give Leiston a five goal lead with over half an hour of the game still to play. Leiston then decided to try to slow the game right down by keeping their passes short and always playing the simple pass that would see them retain possession and leave the Marketmen with no chance of getting back into the game. Needham did however score a consolation goal in the 64th minute when Luke Ingram made the most of the space he had 25 yards away from the goal by firing his shot beyond Jacob Marsden who had barely had to make a save all day.

Leiston then finished the game well and rarely gave Needham the chance to get forward whilst creating some good chances for themselves. Overall, a superb performance from the Blues to kick start the New Year and confidence will no doubt be sky high ahead of the trip the Burgess Hill on Saturday.

FT - Blues 5 Needham Market 1

Blues - Jacob Marsden, Brown (Joe Marsden 72 mins), Dunbar, Ainsley, Jefford, Bullard, Lawrence (Cole 78 mins), Heath, Blake, Muir-Merchant (Pelling 79 mins), Brothers. Subs not ued - Hutchings and Beckwith.

Needham Market - Gay, Dye, Whight, Holland (Fenn 79 mins), Miller, Nunn, Simmons (Snaith 69 mins), Harrison (Morphew 61 mins), Dobson, Ingram, Coakley. Subs not used - Izzet and Knights.

Match Sponsors ALAN CRANE & TIM JACOBS Man of the Match - Gareth Heath

Attendance - 414

Gareth Heath

Player of the Match

Gareth Heath

Key moments

Goal Gareth Heath scores for Leiston
Goal Byron Lawrence scores for Leiston
Goal Byron Lawrence scores for Leiston
Goal Patrick Brothers scores for Leiston
Goal Niko Muir-Merchant scores for Leiston


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90:00 Player of the Match
Gareth Heath is awarded player of the match for Leiston
79:00 Sub Off
Niko Muir-Merchant is substituted off for Leiston
79:00 Sub On
Regan Pelling is substituted on for Leiston
78:00 Sub Off
Byron Lawrence is substituted off for Leiston
78:00 Sub On
Adeyinka Cole is substituted on for Leiston
72:00 Sub On
Joe Marsden is substituted on for Leiston
72:00 Sub Off
Oliver Brown is substituted off for Leiston
57:00 Goal 5 - 0
Niko Muir-Merchant scores for Leiston
52:00 Goal 4 - 0
Patrick Brothers scores for Leiston
52:00 Assist
Sebastian Dunbar makes an assist for Leiston
End of period 1
44:00 Goal 3 - 0
Byron Lawrence scores for Leiston
44:00 Assist
Niko Muir-Merchant makes an assist for Leiston
31:00 Assist
Matt Blake makes an assist for Leiston
31:00 Goal 2 - 0
Byron Lawrence scores for Leiston
20:00 Goal 1 - 0
Gareth Heath scores for Leiston
Start of the game
Replay game

As it happened

  • Leiston
  • Needham Market
  • 0
  • Gareth Heath Goal 20:00'
  • Byron Lawrence Goal 31:00'
  • Matt Blake Assist 31:00'
  • Byron Lawrence Goal 44:00'
  • Niko Muir-Merchant Assist 44:00'
  • Patrick Brothers Goal 52:00'
  • Sebastian Dunbar Assist 52:00'
  • Niko Muir-Merchant Goal 57:00'
  • Joe Marsden Sub On 72:00'
  • Oliver Brown Sub Off 72:00'
  • Adeyinka Cole Sub On 78:00'
  • Byron Lawrence Sub Off 78:00'
  • Regan Pelling Sub On 79:00'
  • Niko Muir-Merchant Sub Off 79:00'

Team selection

Marsden, Jacob Marsden, Jacob
Brown, Oliver Brown, Oliver
Dunbar, Sebastian Dunbar, Sebastian
Lawrence, Byron Lawrence, Byron
Jefford, Joe Jefford, Joe
Bullard, Tom Bullard, Tom
Ainsley, Jack Ainsley, Jack
Heath, Gareth Heath, Gareth
Blake, Matt Blake, Matt
Brothers, Patrick Brothers, Patrick
Muir-Merchant, Niko Muir-Merchant, Niko

League round up

League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Havant & Waterlooville 46 94
2. Bognor Regis Town 46 92
3. Dulwich Hamlet 46 80
4. Enfield Town 46 76
5. Wingate & Finchley 46 75
6. Tonbridge Angels 46 74
7. Leiston 46 73

Team sponsors


Club sponsors