NEEDHAM Market held on to win the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup for a third time despite a gallant Lowestoft Town display.
Lowestoft won the second leg of the delayed 2019-20 final 2-1 at Crown Meadow on Tuesday night, but Needham’s 3-1 victory in the first leg gave them a 4-3 aggregate success.
They had to dig deep after two Lowestoft goals in three minutes levelled the tie up after half-an-hour of the second leg at Crown Meadow.
Joe Marsden scored the all-important goal after 48 minutes for Needham, who had to play the final 15 minutes with ten men, after substitute Luke Ingram was sent off just five minutes after coming off the bench.
Joe Marsden celebrates scoring the goal that proved to be the winner for Needham Market. Main photograph: Needham Market players and management celebrate after winning the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup. Photographs: Shirley Whitlow
It was Needham’s third success in the competition and first since defeating Lowestoft 3-2 in the 2016-17 final at Colchester United FC.
The visitors started the brighter with Jake Dye and Billy Hunt both firing off target, before a left-wing Connor Parsons corner was headed off the line after Needham keeper Marcus Garnham’s punched failed to clear.
The tie was then turned on its head with two Lowestoft goals in the space of three minutes.
Right-back Jacek Zielonka was tripped in the box by Ben Fowkes and Zielonka picked himself up to score from the spot in the 28th minute.
Dan Morphew then fouled Rossi Jarvis and Louis McIntosh, whose dead-ball deliveries caused Needham problems in the first leg at Bloomfields a week earlier, left Garnham rooted to the spot as he curled home a 20-yard free-kick.
Thoughts of a memorable fightback by Lowestoft, who were appearing in their 29th final with 13 previous wins, were dented just three minutes after the re-start.
A goal kick by Warren Burwood was headed back from the half-way line by Keiran Morphew to Marsden on the right and he cut inside before curling a left-foot shot into the far corner.
The former Lowestoft player had scored a similar goal, although cutting in from the left wing, to open the scoring in the first leg.
Needham Market striker Billy Hunt (red shirt) is tracked by Lowestoft Town defender Josh Curry (blue shirt) during the second leg at Crown Meadow. Photograph: Shirley Whitlow
Burwood saved low down at his near post from Marsden after a one-two between Marsden and Hunt down the Lowestoft left.
Needham left-back Callum Sturgess, who received two yellow cards at the weekend, was substituted just before the hour after being booked and then spoken to by referee Ollie Morris-Sanders soon after.
Hunt hit the top of the crossbar with a header from Dye’s right-wing cross after 63 minutes as Needham sought to restore their two-goal advantage.
Ingram, on as a 70th minute substitute for Fowkes, then received a straight red card for something he said to the referee, but Needham stayed firm in defence.
Lowestoft Town: Warren Burwood, Jacek Zielonka, Owen Murphy, Rossi Jarvis, Levi Andoh, Josh Curry, Louis McIntosh, Andrew Fisk (sub Miguel Lopez, 82 mins), Colin Oppong (sub Anthony Cox, 70 mins), Kieran Higgs, Connor Parsons. Unused subs: Josh Wells, Luis Tibbles, Jay Barbor.
Needham Market: Marcus Garnham, Jake Dye, Callum Sturgess (sub Adam Mills, 62 mins), Noah Collard, Keiran Morphew, Dan Morphew, Callum Page, Gareth Heath, Billy Hunt, Joe Marsden (sub Kai Fletcher, 90+1 mins), Ben Fowkes (sub Luke Ingram, 70 mins). Unused subs: Tommy Northwood, Owen Elsdon.
Referee: Ollie Morris-Sanders.