NEEDHAM Market manager Kevin Horlock told his players ‘don’t play with fear’ after they surrendered a two-goal lead in the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Final.
Two goals inside three first-half minutes saw Lowestoft Town, who Needham had defeated 3-1 in the first leg of the delayed 2019-20 final at Bloomfields a week earlier, cancel out their advantage inside half-an-hour of Tuesday’s second leg at Crown Meadow.
Jacek Zielonka scored from the spot after 28 minutes after he had been fouled inside the box by Ben Fowkes and then Louis McIntosh curled home a 20-yard free-kick with goalkeeper Marcus Garnham rooted to the spot.
Horlock, who said he considered his side ‘slight favourites’ going into the second leg, watched his players respond through Joe Marsden’s 48th minute goal.
The Marketmen had substitute Luke Ingram shown a straight red card for something he said five minutes after coming on as a 70th minute substitute but held on to lose 2-1 on the night and win 4-3 on aggregate.
Lowestoft Town winger Connor Parsons in possession with Needham's Noah Collard in pursuit during Tuesday's second leg of the final at Crown Meadow. Main photograph: Needham goalscorer Joe Marsden shields the ball from Lowestoft Town captain Andrew Fisk. Photographs: Shirley Whitlow
Horlock, who picked up his first trophy as manager of Needham Market, said: “I am really proud of the lads.
“Everyone made us red-hot favourites. We knew that we were slight favourites with a two-goal advantage, but it was never going to be easy, and I think tonight proved that – it was touch and go at times.
“I said to the lads at half time we were not that poor, but they scored a penalty, which gave them a lift, and then it was a great free-kick.
“I said we just haven’t played as well as we could, but don’t play with fear – the worst thing that can happen is we don’t win this trophy tonight.
“I thought in the second half we showed a calmness and a bit steel about us when we were up against it going down to ten men, so we were tested, but I have learnt lots of positives about my side tonight.
“I know they can play – we have shown that on a number of occasions already this season, but tonight showed me we have a bit of steel about us when we were up against it, so I go home tonight really proud.”
Horlock praised Marsden, who also scored in the first leg against his former club in the first two-legged final since 1980-81, which both clubs were keen on, rather than a one-off tie.
He said: “I am pleased for him because it has been tough for a number of lads – Joe, Adam Mills and Luke Ingram – we have been really good and they have had to be patient.
“They are experienced lads who have played a lot of games, but I would like to think I have created an environment where if lads do well they keep their place as much as possible.
“I have got to be consistent with that and I have been and testament to Joe – he has been given the nod tonight and it could have been Luke – and he has produced that bit of quality that we all know he possesses with what turned out to be the winning goal.”
Lowestoft Town striker Colin Oppong, who is on loan from Ipswich Town, holds the ball up as Needham Market right-back Jake Dye challenges. Photograph: Shirley Whitlow
Horlock said the trophy – Needham’s third Premier Cup win – was a reward for everyone involved behind-the-scenes at the club.
“The trophy itself is for a lot of people. The lads are the ones that go on the pitch and win it, but our club has evolved so much over the last five years, from top to bottom, and we are led from the top really, really well.
“We have got a lot of good people involved in the football club that help out as well, so this is for all of them and all their hard work and it is nice sometimes to see some fruit from your labour and that trophy is for everyone at Needham.”
Lowestoft Town manager Jamie Godbold said: “I think over the course of the 90 minutes we have got to take the positives as we won the game, but over the two games it was not enough.
“We came into the game with a bit of a mountain to climb and at half time it was like we were on top of it and just needed to go for another, but a little bit of quality from Joe (Marsden) again, which I think was the only shot they had all game, just flew into the top corner of the net.
“I am disappointed to lose the cup final, as you would be, but certainly not disappointed with our players’ efforts.”
Marsden goal sees Needham win cup
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