NEEDHAM Market will take a two-goal advantage into the second leg of the 2019-20 Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Final.
The Marketmen defeated Lowestoft Town 3-1 in Tuesday’s first leg at Bloomfields on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Joe Marsden, Gareth Heath and Billy Hunt, with Adam Tann replying.
In what was a competitive and entertaining encounter, Needham repeated their 3-1 scoreline by which they won when the two teams met in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central ten days previously.
The Bloomfields pitch was soft but played well despite heavy rain throughout the day that threatened to postpone the first leg of the final held over from the end of last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Captain Adam Tann, who was outstanding for the visitors, almost put Lowestoft ahead in the second minute when his header from Louis McIntosh’s right-wing corner was cleared off the line.
However, it was Needham who drew first blood after nine minutes as former Lowestoft player Joe Marsden cut in from the left wing before curling the ball into the top far corner of the net.
Lowestoft Town captain Adam Tann sends a 65th minute header goalwards which is tipped onto the crossbar by Needham Market goalkeeper Marcus Garnham. Main photograph: Joe Marsden (facing camera) about to be congratulated by his team-mates after putting Needham Market ahead in the ninth minute. Photographs: Paul Voller
Colin Opping, who along with Levi Andoh is on loan at Lowestoft from Ipswich Town, for whom they both played in this season’s competition against Walsham-le-Willows last Wednesday, shot wide of the near post after 26 minutes from a Kieran Higgs pass.
Needham doubled their lead in time added on at the end of the first-half after a neat one-two between Callum Page and Billy Hunt saw Page cross low into the danger zone and skipper Gareth Heath beat Joe Murphy to stab beyond Luis Tibbles.
The goal came down the Lowestoft right soon after right-back Josh Curry was injured and he failed to appear for the second period, with Josh Wells replacing him.
The unmarked Andoh passed up a glorious chance with his head from McIntosh’s right-wing free-kick before the Trawlerboys, who missed the presence of the unavailable Jake Reed up front, pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute.
McIntosh, whose deal-ball deliveries were a threat throughout the match, sent in a free-kick from wide on the left and Tann got a touch at the near post to divert it low inside the far post.
Lowestoft Town goalkeeper Luis Tibbles is powerless to prevent Billy Hunt's rising drive hitting the back of the net for Needham Market's third goal. Photograph: Paul Voller
They came agonisingly close to restoring parity three minutes later as another McIntosh free-kick was met first by the head of Andoh and then Tann, but Needham keeper Marcus Garnham arched back to tip the ball against the crossbar before it was cleared to safety.
The save was to prove vital as Needham restored their two-goal advantage in the 69th minute as the impressive Noah Collard teed up Hunt to find the top corner with a rising drive from just outside the penalty area.
Tibbles got his body behind a powerful drive by Hunt as Needham went in search of a fourth before the end, but they will by happy to take a two-goal cushion into the second leg at Crown Meadow next Tuesday.
Needham Market: Marcus Garnham, Jake Dye, Adam Mills (sub Callum Sturgess, 73 mins), Noah Collard, Keiran Morphew, Dan Morphew, Luke Ingram (sub Josh Pollard, 62 mins), Gareth Heath, Billy Hunt, Callum Page, Joe Marsden (sub Ben Fowkes, 63 mins. Unused subs: Tom Fitzgerald, Owen Elsdon.
Lowestoft Town: Luis Tibbles, Josh Curry (sub Josh Wells, 46 mins), Owen Murphy, Miguel Lopez, Levi Andoh, Adam Tann, Kieran Higgs, Andrew Fisk, Colin Oppong, Louis McIntosh (sub Rossi Jarvis, 73 mins), Connor Parsons. Unused subs: Warren Burwood, Jacek Zilonka.
Referee: George Byrne.
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