“WE CAN but dream – as you know anything can happen in cup football.”
Those are the words of Needham Market FC Chair Keith Nunn, whose side have been drawn to play Yeovil Town in the Fourth Round Proper of the Buildbase FA Trophy next month.
The Marketmen booked their place in the last 32 of this season’s competition thanks to a 2-1 victory over Wealdstone in last Saturday’s third round proper tie at Bloomfields.
Callum Sturgess and Luke Ingram gave the Marketmen a 2-0 half-time lead, before Wealdstone pulled one back mid-way through the second period.
But Needham held on to achieve the best result in the club’s history – and one that leaves them just four wins away from an appearance in the final at Wembley.
Needham were in the draw on Monday along with former Football League clubs such as Aldershot, Notts County, Southend United, Newport County, Wrexham and York City.
They were drawn away to Yeovil - who were playing in the EFL Championship alongside Ipswich Town as recently as the 2013-14 season - on Saturday, January 15th 2022.
Needham Market striker Luke Ingram lifts the ball over the Wealdstone goalkeeper to score his side's second goal in last Saturday's Buildbase FA Trophy Third Round Proper tie at Bloomfields. Main photograph: Injured midfielder Byron Lawrence (third right on crutches) joins his Needham Market team-mates on the pitch after the final whistle. Photographs: Amy Gilson
Chair Keith Nunn reflected on Saturday’s victory against their Vanarama National League visitors: “It was our biggest game of the season, but I wouldn’t say it was the biggest in the club’s history.
“I would say when we played Kirkham & Wesham in the semi-final of the FA Vase in 2008 and were 2-0 in the first leg up away from home after 20 minutes and lost 3-2 and then lost the second leg at Needham 1-0 – the only game we didn’t score in that season – was bigger. Had we won we would have been an all-Suffolk final against Lowestoft Town at Wembley.
“We also played Cambridge United (in October 2013) the season they got promoted back into the Football League in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round. We lost 1-0 but had a ground record attendance (1,784 spectators) at Bloomfields that day.
“Given that we didn’t beat Fylde (as Kirkham & Wesham are now known) or Cambridge United, Saturday’s win was our best result as a club.
“Wealdstone play two levels above us and are past winners of the FA Trophy (in 1985) so no-one gave us much of a chance. I was optimistic, but did I really think we would win? No, I didn’t.”
Nunn said what stood out for him was the fact that Needham took the game to Wealdstone as manager Kevin Horlock had said they would before the game.
“Kevin had said we were not going to sit back and that we would be on the front foot and play our natural game and that’s what happened.
“We outfought them in midfield where young Noah Collard was our man-of-the-match. Keiran Morphew was brilliant at the back and Marcus Garnham made some great saves in the second half.
“We have played some good football this season but not always won. Teams do tend to sit back against us and they can be hard to break down, but Wealdstone gave us space to play and we knocked the ball around really well in the first half and deserved our two-goal lead.
“We tired in the second half and two of our players went down with cramp, but after they pulled a goal back, we held on and it was a great performance.”
Needham Market players celebrate after Luke Ingram had given them a 2-0 lead in Saturday's tie against Wealdstone. Photograph: Amy Gilson
Among the spectators – the match was watched by a crowd of 432 – was Mark Cooper, manager of League Two side Barrow, who recently beat Ipswich Town in the Emirates FA Cup.
Nunn, who was speaking to him before the game, said he was there watching his son Charlie Cooper, who was playing in midfield for Barrow.
Also watching on was Byron Lawrence, the Needham Market midfield player who is recuperating after suffering a break to his fibula, a fracture to his tibia and a dislocated ankle last month.
A collection at Saturday’s game raised £405 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance who came to his aid after sustaining the injury in the match against Peterborough Sports which was subsequently abandoned.
Kyle Hammond has been playing in the No.14 shirt since Lawrence’s injury after the club decided his No.4 shirt would not be used again until his return.
After the forthcoming festive fixtures Needham Market can now look forward to their visit to Yeovil, who scored three times in the last ten minutes to defeat Woking 3-1 in their third round proper tie last Saturday.
Nunn said: “The players and some supporters will travel down the afternoon before and stay overnight.
“I don’t know how many supporters will go as some will be worried about Covid and others about the weather, but we are looking forward to what will be a great day for the club.
“Yeovil may under-estimate us. They play Bournemouth at home in the FA Cup the week before and are on a great run of form and going well in the league, so the FA Trophy may not be top of their list of priorities.
“We can but dream – as you know anything can happen in cup football.”