Needham Marlet 0

Grays Athletic 1

RYMAN 1N: BLUES dug deep to beat a poor Needham Market side and close the gap on league leaders Maldon & Tiptree, who slipped up at home for the first time this season.

After last week’s disappointing 4-1 home defeat to Cheshunt, that led to Blues boss Hakan Heyrettin launching a scathing attack on several of his players, the club ended the week booking an Essex Senior Cup semi-final spot and grinding out a decent result in Suffolk.

Heyrettin opted to make a number of changes to the side that were well beaten at Rush Green last Saturday. Leon Lalite came back into the side for Harry Agombar, while Danny Bunce was pushed into midfield in place of Jake Hall. Jack West started up top. Lamar Johnson also returned between the sticks, replacing George Kamurasi, who had disappointed the manager with his performance against Cheshunt.

Blues should have won by a bigger margin. Bunce was putting in some fantastic crosses and after 20 minutes, Jeff Hammond got onto the end of the midfielder’s corner.

The ball was cleared, but the linesman said the ball had crossed the line, giving Hammond his second goal for the club since moving from Harlow last month.

The striker was unlucky not to double Blues’ tally, as he saw another header cannon off the bar just before half-time.

Needham were disappointing, creating very few chances of note throughout the game. After 75 minutes, Grays should have had the game wrapped up, but Jack West saw his penalty easily saved.

Grays: Johnson; Pope, Baker, Kirby, Flynn; Bunce, Beaney, Lalite; Carlos, West, Hammond.