GOALKEEPER Marcus Garnham was the hero as Needham Market retained the Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup.
Garnham saved three spot kicks as Needham defeated Leiston 5-4 on penalties following a goalless draw at the Jobserve Community Stadium, home of Colchester United FC, on Thursday night.
It was almost inevitable the match would be decided by penalties as neither side were able to create any clear-cut chances as they cancelled each other out across the 90 minutes.
Garnham saved from Siju Odelusi, Brendan Ocran and Baris Altintop, while Finlay Barnes, Seb Dunbar, Rob Eagle and Adam Bailey-Dennis were successful for Leiston.
Leiston keeper Sam Donkin kept out Kyle Hammond’s effort and Ben Fowkes struck the inside of the post, but Dan Morphew, Noah Collard, Callum Sturgess and Jake Dye netted for Needham, before Tom Maycock netted the winning spot kick.
It meant that Needham retained the cup they won in 2019-20 – last season’s competition was cancelled due to Covid – and was the club’s fourth Suffolk Premier Cup success.
The result – a win 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Leiston – exactly mirrored their success on the first occasion they lifted the cup in the 2007-08 season.
The match itself was a disappointing spectacle, with the two Pitching In Southern League Premier Central sides unable to produce their best form.
Leiston, who lost their semi-final 3-0 to Stowmarket Town but were reinstated when their opponents withdrew for fielding two ineligible players, were first to threaten as the on-loan Altintop played a neat one-two with Joe Marsden and his cross landed on the roof of the Needham net.
Needham’s Harvey Sayer, who has been on-loan from Colchester United this season, cut in from the right and tested Donkin after 33 minutes.
Leiston skipper Seb Dunbar made a timely tackle to block a Taylor Clark shot early in the second period, before Donkin got down to cut out a low cross from Seth Chambers.
Collard had a shot saved by Donkin late on but neither side deserved to win the match in normal time, so the shoot-out was required to settle the outcome.
The cup and medals were presented by Suffolk FA President David Sheepshanks CBE, Suffolk FA Vice Chair Bruce Badcock and Nathan Ramsey of competition sponsors Turners Hyundai. Needham Market players are pictured above celebrating with the cup. Photograph: Paul Voller.
Needham Market: Marcus Garnham, Jake Dye, Callum Sturgess, Keiran Morphew, Dan Morphew, Harvey Sayer, Noah Collard, Seth Chambers, Taylor Clark (sub Tom Maycock, 81 mins), Ben Fowkes, Kyle Hammond. Unused subs: Hugh Cullum, Louis McDonagh, Archie Exworth, Ewan Johnson.
Leiston: Sam Donkin, Baris Altintop, Seb Dunbar, Adam Bailey-Dennis, Jake Hutchings, Finlay Barnes, George Quantrell, Will Davies, Siju Odelusi, Joe Marsden (sub Brendan Ocran, 81 mins), Ollie Saunders (sub Rob Eagle, 90+1 mins). Unused subs: Iuri Fernandes, Adam Mills, Sonny Wright.
Referee: Emily Heaslip.