Lennon penalty seals victory for Parson Drove
Parson Drove 1, Needham Market Reserves 0
Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League First Division North
After watching Drove's opening day defeat to Diss Town back in July, management duo Gary Haime and Robbie Harris told me it would be October until their hastily assembled squad clicked.
Well, that's where we are now and, after shipping 26 goals in their opening eight games, Drove have now recorded three clean sheets in their last four outings as they acclimatise to life in a new league.
Since those early days, the team has added more more experience to the talented young group, Ollie Jackman in defence, Mark Hardwick in midfield and Nick Davey up front giving the team plenty of know-how.
And despite missing Josh Lewis and Gaje Drew with Covid-19 and Teddy Haime with a broken arm this afternoon, the home team impressed. Veteran Adam Jackson, brought to Main Road as a midfielder before reverting to his traditional left back role, played on the right side of defence this afternoon and Ryan Lennon, signed as a goalscoring striker, took up a wide role as Drove showed teamwork and commitment.
They started on the front foot and could have scored in the opening minute had the visiting keeper not pulled off a superb low save from Lennon's drive. Another gilt-edged chance arrived in the 14th minute, but Gary Smith could not get enough power on his header from a superbly whipped in Jackson free kick.
But Drove then lost momentum and Market twice saw efforts flash narrowly wide of Aaron Watson's posts before the keeper made a super 39th minute save to keep his team in the game.
Right on half time, Jermaine Watson missed the best chance of the half for Drove, sliding in to put over from ten yards out after a great cross from the right by Lennon.
There were a few too many long balls by Drove before the break, but in the second half they were prepared to keep the ball down and play, and they looked all the better for it.
Ben Calvert tested the visiting keeper with a 35 yard effort, Watson was denied from close range and sub Jack Brand saw a close range shot saved as the home team piled on the pressure.
The goal finally came in the 73rd minute when Lennon was fouled in the box and he got up to blast home the spot kick and seal the points with his fifth goal of the season.
Parson Drove: A Watson, Gear, Jackson, Brown, Jackman, Calvert, Hardwick, Smith (Brand 65 mins), Lennon (Knight 82), Davey, J Watson (Alexander 75).
Star man: Ollie Jackman - it's no coincidence that Drove have three clean sheets from four since the imposing central defender joined the club.