Bad defending by Redbridge was seized upon by Needham Market as the classy visitors from Suffolk grabbed a win that would see them climb to the top of the table thanks to East Thurrock losing a 3-0 lead at home to Cheshunt to draw 3-3.
For the Motormen the defeat was made worse with news that local rivals Ilford who had been bottom on the night on goal difference managed to pull off a 2-1 win away to Ware despite having to play with 10 men for almost the whole of the second half.
On paper this game was always going to look difficult for Dave Ross and Kris Taylor’s side and Needham started well as straight from the kick off they created a half-chance which forward Nathan Stone shot wide. It was an early warning sign for the Motormen that they’d need to be switched on against the top scorers in the league for the whole game.
Needham took the lead on 13minutes with a stunning goal. A nice flick on by Stone from a ball towards the box was controlled brilliantly by Craig Parker who with one touch to control the ball turned inside his marker before clinically shooting the ball over Dave McCartney and into the back of the net. It was some goal by the league’s leading goalscorer and his 9th of the league season.
Going behind so early seemed to stun Redbridge and for a while they found it hard to get back into the game. They did though almost grab an equaliser just after 25minutes only to be denied by a wonderful save from Danny Gay in goal for Needham. Good play by Anton Agdomar and Alex Read in the middle worked the ball out to Kevin McLeod.
Redbridge’s number 10 skilfully beat two players making his way into the penalty area and struck a powerful shot goalwards which Gay somehow managed to tip over the bar just as the ball looked to have beaten him inside his near post.
Market managed to defend the resulting corner from Gay’s save and won a corner of their own down the other end. Redbridge’s defenders could not head the ball clear despite several opportunities and a Needham header picked out Sam Newson who had the simple task of heading the ball past McCarntey and into the net.
There was simply no time for Redbridge to reorganise as three minutes later they conceded a third. A long clearance from the back was controlled well in midfield and the ball found it’s way to Stone up front. Still 25 yards from goal not a lot looked on for the forward, but Stone took one touch before unleashing a powerful shot goalwards which McCartney in goal could do nothing about as the ball flew into the bottom right hand corner.
Going into half time with the game all but lost was going to be hard for Redbridge, but they started the second half well with Read and McLeod again seeing good shots on goal saved by Gay inside the opening 10 minutes of the half. It just was not Redbridge’s night.
Needham then came back into the game and a rare mistake from Donovan Wilson presented Parker with his second goal of the match and Needham’s fourth. A long ball into the box was not chested back strongly by the experienced South African into keeper McCartney’s path, which allowed Parker the chance to nick the ball ahead of the onrushing keeper and into the back of the net.
Two minutes after the hour-mark Parker grabbed his hatrick and his 11th league goal of the season. Good play in midfield by James Evans saw the ball find its way to Stone 30 yards from goal, with Parker rushing his way into a goal scoring position, Stone picked out his partner brilliantly who slotted the ball past McCarntey to claim his hatrick.
Redbridge did their best in the closing stages of the game to not concede a sixth goal with Agdomar and Steve Good working hard in the middle of the park making some good interceptions. It was though a bad night for the team.
However Ross and Taylor will need to pick their spirits up as Needham will beat alot of teams this year and there is the small matter of an FA Cup tie against Harrow Borough this weekend at the Oakside. Football is a funny game, so it gives the Motormen a great chance to bounce back with a positive performance.
Redbridge: McCartney, Wilson, Stephen, Good, Crossley, Peddie, Adams (Ashby), Agdomar, Read, McLeod (Edwards), Diaczuk