Needham Market v AFC Sudbury

3pm  1 January 2015

Isthmian League, Division One North
Needham Market 1 AFC Sudbury 0 (att 473)

The New Year's Day fixture list is slimmer these days than in years gone by, with more and more leagues taking a break over the festive period.

I don't need many grounds at this level, and Needham Market was my only option for a new ground today. It's a long drive from Manchester to Suffolk, but the effort was rewarded with a feisty local derby.

Needham Market top the league, and I expected them to be too strong for AFC Sudbury, even more so when the visitors lost a player to a red card for a dangerous challenge only five minutes into the game.

But Sudbury defended well, and even came closest to scoring, in a goalless first half, when a shot from distance came back off the post.

The second half was much better than the first. The home side upped their game and seemed to be just a matter of time before they'd score, but clear chances, and shots on target, were few and far between.

As the 90th minute approached a tangle between players resulted in another red card for AFC Sudbury. With a two man advantage, Needham Market finally went in front, with the game's only goal, in stoppage time. A dramatic finish, and harsh on Sudbury, although with two red cards they've only got themselves to blame.

I liked Needham Market's ground, Bloomfields. The main stand is quirky enough to be interesting, more so than the smaller seated stand behind one goal. There's plenty of cover running along the far side, with smaller shelters behind the other goal.

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