NEEDHAM Market manager Kevin Horlock said his side showed their class in reaching the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Final.
Ben Fowkes netted a hat-trick as Needham defeated Stowmarket Town 4-1 in their semi-final tie at AFC Sudbury on Tuesday in front of 298 spectators.
Summer signing Fowkes scored in the 29th and 30th minutes to put the Marketmen 2-0 ahead at the break, before Charlie Clarke pulled one back after 64 minutes.
Callum Page restored Needham’s two-goal advantage eight minutes later, before Fowkes completed his hat-trick on his competitive debut with five minutes remaining.
Needham will face Lowestoft Town in a repeat off the 2016-17 final, which they won 3-2, on a date and at a venue to be arranged in the 2019-20 final, the conclusion of the competition having been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Horlock (pictured above) said that his side had been on a hiding to nothing going into the tie.
“It has been a long time coming with the break we have had, but the lads have been brilliant in training and pre-season games and it was a matter of me just saying to them go and kick-on in competitive games.
“It was always going to be a difficult one tonight as we were red-hot favourites being two leagues higher, but we were all aware they have got players that should be playing higher than the league they are in, so we were on a hiding to nothing.
“I said to the lads to go out there and show what we are about.
“In my opinion we are the best club in non-league in Suffolk and I think we showed that tonight.
“We had a little wobble after half-time when it was really comfortable in the first half, but fair play to them they threw everything at it and caused us a few problems, but we weathered the storm and then showed our class and 4-1 was about right,” said Horlock.
Stowmarket Town manager Rick Andrews admitted the tie showed the difference in levels that the two teams play.
“They gave us a lesson in the first half. They moved the ball really well and when you give good players time on the ball they will hurt you.
“They fully deserved to be 2-0 up at half time, and in the second half I was pleased with the response from my players as we got closer to them and made a fight of it.
“We pulled a goal back and then their keeper Marcus Garnham has pulled off a ‘worldy’ save and a minute later they scored and so we were two goals behind again.
“The game showed me the levels we need to achieve if we want to play at that level.
“Needham’s win was well-deserved and we wish them all the best for the final, while we can now focus on getting out of our league.”
Stowmarket Town: James Bradbrook, Ollie Brown, Seb Dunbar, Jack Ainsley, Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard, Dom Docherty (sub Alex Clarke, 85 mins), Robbie Sweeney (sub Ben Licence, 67 mins), Charlie Clarke, Josh Mayhew (sub Charlie Lockwood, 88 mins), Anton Clarke. Unused subs: Danny Potter, Aiden Phair.
Needham Market: Marcus Garnham, Jake Dye, Callum Sturgess, Noah Collard, Josh Pollard, Dan Morhpew, Luke Ingram, Gareth Heath, Billy Hunt (sub Adam Mills, 67 mins), Callum Page, Ben Fowkes (sub Jose Santa, 86 mins). Unused subs: Nathan Munson, Tom Fitzgerald.
County cup semi-final action continues on Wednesday night with the remaining CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Final and both Total Football Junior Cup Semi-Finals, before the second McDonald’s Suffolk Primary Cup Semi-Final on Thursday.
Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Semi-Finals: Stowmarket Town 1 Needham Market 4, Lowestoft Town 2 Bury Town 0
CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Semi-Final: Henley Athletic v Ipswich Wanderers at Whitton Utd FC.
Total Football Suffolk Junior Cup Semi-Finals: Bramford Road Old Boys v Sudbury Sports at Brantham Athletic FC, AFC YourShirts v Halesworth Town at Woodbridge Town FC.
McDonald’s Suffolk Primary Cup Semi-Final: Ipswich Exiles v Melton Utd at Felixstowe & Walton Utd FC.