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Southern League preview: Frustration for Parker and Needham, Leiston's Driver upbeat, Lowestoft seek boost...

PUBLISHED: 11:52 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:19 03 January 2020

Craig Parker scores for Needham Market. He knows his side need to put games to bed. Picture: BEN POOLEY

Craig Parker scores for Needham Market. He knows his side need to put games to bed. Picture: BEN POOLEY

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Needham Market midfielder Craig Parker has said he and his team-mates need to take a 'good look at themselves' after a frustrating first half of the campaign.

The Southern League Central Premier division side entertain Startford this weekend at Bloomfields. The Marketmen are sitting 15th in the table.

The New Year has started with defeat to near-neighbours Leiston and with a home record that has only seen two league wins so far this season, it has been a below-par return for a side with a good pedigree of players.

"Frustrating is the word," Parker said.

"We've been so inconsistent, having some great results against the top sides and failing to win against the lower ones.

"We have got to have a good look at ourselves. Our management team are doing everything they can. We certainly have the players on paper to be doing much better than we are.

"Team talks after games have become a bit like groundhog day. We are saying the same things over and over again.

"Against Leiston the first-half was even, but we had much more of it in the second. But fair play to Leiston, they took their chances and we didn't. We just can't put sides away."

Needham could do their Suffolk neighbours Leiston (18th in the table) and Lowestoft (16th) a favour this weekend should they beat Stratford, who are below both in the table.

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Meanwhile Leiston boss Glen Driver enjoyed a good festive time. But his side face a stiff test at Coalville this weekend.

"The Needham Market result was a great result for us," Driver said.

"That and a win against Lowestoft Town has seen us pick up maximum points in the games over Christmas and in both games we have played some excellent football.

"The Needham win was extra special and people will say we were lucky but games are about scoring goals and not conceding and if you don't take your chances you don't pick up results.

"I thought we looked a threat every time we went forward and our work rate off the ball was very good. We knew playing the match without a recognised centre forward would be tough but Siju Odelusi was excellent and our support play helped him.

"We still have a lot to improve on but I have put this side together in just seven weeks.

"Confidence was low but we are working hard to pull away from the bottom of the table."

Driver will be hoping strikers John Sands and Tom Debenham will be available for the match after they missed the Needham game through illness.

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Lowestoft Town will be hoping for a change of fortune after the festive disappointment of a brace of defeats.

The Blues were beaten 3-1 by neighbours Leiston at Crown Meadow on Boxing Day and then suffered a 5-1 thumping at Royston on New Year's Day.

Sixth-placed Hednesford visit the east coast this weekend, with Lowestoft desperate to get back to the form of early December when they took seven points from three Southern Premier Central Division games.

The two festive defeats has left the Blues 16th in the table and assistant manager Andy Reynolds is determined to see his side recover today.

The Blues will also be looking to gain some revenge for an opening day 2-1 defeat at The Pitmen as they face another team pushing for the play-offs places.

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