Heybridge striker Chris Bryan made it a week to forget for Needham Market as he fired four first-half goals to lead his side to a 4-3 Ryman North victory at Bloomfields on New Year’s Eve. Needham had conceded just seven goals in their ten home games before meeting Leiston on Boxing Day, and after a scoreless first half in that game no-one could have imagined that the Marketmen would let in nine more in their next 90 minutes of football. But Leiston finished the game 5-0 winners and Bryan took over where they left off. He opened his account on 22 minutes, converted a penalty shortly afterwards and completed his hat-trick eight minutes before the break. Bradley Barber pulled one back for Needham before Bryan got his fourth in added time. The hosts dominated the second half but it was the 82nd minute before Deakan Napier reduced the arrears with a 25-yarder. Danny Bloomfield grabbed a third, but by then the game was into added time and Heybridge had banked three points to keep their play-off hopes alive.
It was very much Leiston’s week, and they ended it on top of the table after collecting six points while all their rivals faltered. Yesterday they were 2-0 winners at Cheshunt. Gareth Heath fired in off the bar to give them a 32nd-minute lead and Rhys Henry added the second soon after the break. Overnight leaders Enfield Town were beaten 2-1 at Tilbury, who themselves moved back into a play-off place. There was a quick exchange of goals just before the half-hour, with Alex Read’s opener for the Dockers being answered by Walid Matata. A couple of Enfield efforts were scrambled off the line before Joe Nightingill got the winner with 12 minutes left.
It was a six-point week for Tilbury, as it was for Harlow who moved into sixth place with a 3-0 home victory over Chatham. Piers Wixon missed a penalty for the Hawks in a goalless first half but Jeff Hammond, recently signed from Waltham Forest, broke the deadlock with two goals before the hour mark and Michael Deane wrapped it up in the 69th minute. Sudbury dropped from fifth to seventh after a goalless draw at Ilford, who lifted themselves off the foot of the table. The dismissal of Sudbury skipper Sam Clarke in the 52nd minute dented their hopes of victory and only fine goalkeeping by Danny Gay denied Ilford their second win of the season.
Ilford edged above Ware, who went down 3-2 at Waltham Abbey on Friday. Tim Shaw gave the Abbotts a half-time lead which was extended by substitutes Daran Bern and Loren Maxwell, who both scored soon after entering the action. Two goals in as many minutes by Kieran Weekes and Ryan Mattos left Ware with 18 minutes to save the game, but the task was beyond them.
The bottom two had eight points, six points behind Great Wakering who in turn found themselves eight points adrift of Maldon after their 3-2 defeat there. Wakering had Nick Skelton sent off on the half-hour and were hit by two Freddie Ladapo strikes either side of half-time. The ten men fought back and quickfire goals by Julian Okai and Ashley Hawkins made it 2-2 by the hour mark, but Maldon had the last word when Ross Wall fired home in the 88th minute.
Brentwood maintained their promotion bid with a 1-0 win at Thamesmead that could have been more convincing. Well on top for most of the game, Blues had to settle for a 25th-minute goal by Danny Dafter. Redbridge, having waited until Boxing Day for a home league win, added another by thumping Romford 3-0. Ryan Wade’s free-kick provided a seventh-minute opener and Joe Gardner struck twice in six minutes at the start of the game’s final quarter.
: Ryman League