NEEDHAM Market made it three consecutive Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup wins in a row after a thrilling final against Stowmarket Town.
The Marketmen won 6-5 on penalties following a 3-3 draw in front of 977 spectators at the Atalian Servest Stadium, home of Bury Town FC, on Friday night.
The two teams traded four goals in a breathless first-half, and although the pace dropped once they had each scored again soon after the interval, it was a fitting finale to this season’s competition.
Both sides then netted their first five penalties, before Stowmarket keeper James Bradbrook lifted his spot kick over the crossbar, allowing substitute Seth Chambers the opportunity to score the decisive penalty.
Needham started the stronger and went ahead after just five minutes, Callum Page sending his far post header back across goal and inside the other post following Kyle Hammond’s right-wing cross.
Needham Market's Callum Page (red shirt, second left) heads his side in front after just five minutes. Main photograph: Needham Market celebrate their third consecutive Suffolk Premier Cup success. Photographs: Paul Voller
Stowmarket, rocked by falling behind so early on, took time to settle, but drew level in the 17th minute, Joe Jefford firmly heading home Ed Upson’s left-wing corner.
And they sent ahead six minutes later as Jack Ainsley reacted quickest to fire home the rebound after Upson’s curling 25-yard free-kick came back off the near post.
Needham responded by restoring parity five minutes before the break when Dan Morphew sent a powerful header beyond Bradbrook from Dylan Williams’ left-wing flag kick.
It was Williams who then put Needham back in front in the 47th minute, sweeping home low into the far corner of the net after Hammond cut the ball back into his path following a good build-up down the right.
Their lead lasted just four minutes after Dan Morphew failed to deal with player-manager Chris Casement’s right-wing cross and Ainsley kept his composure to control the loose ball and slot home his second.
With no further scoring as both sides tired, the outcome was decided on penalties – just as it was 12 months previously when Needham defeated Leiston in the final.
Stowmarket Town keeper James Bradbrook (not in picture) lifts his spot kick over the crossbar as opposite number Marcus Garnham dives the wrong way. Photograph: Paul Voller.
Ainsley, Upson, Jack Wilkinson, Casement and Harvey Sayer all scored for Stowmarket, while Luke Ingram, Taylor Clark, Dan Morphew, Williams, Luke Brown and Chambers netted for Needham.
The result meant that Garnham, who saved three spot kicks in last season's final but was did not make a single save this time, has now won the competition nine times – almost certainly more than any other player in the competition's history.
The cup and medals were presented by Andy Gore, Group Operations Director of competition sponsors Endeavour Automotive, along with Suffolk FA President David Sheepshanks CBE and Suffolk FA Chair Phil Lawler.
Stowmarket Town: James Bradbrook, Chris Casement, Tommy Smith, Jack Wilkinson, Joe Jefford, Tom Bullard, Harvey Sayer, Josh Curry, Jack Ainsley, Ed Upson, Kane Munday. Unused subs: Kieran Morley, Scott Sloots, Luke Hipkin, Zach Gayfer, Ellis Girling.
Needham Market: Marcus Garnham, Kyle Hammond, Jake Dye, Keiran Morphew, Dan Morphew, Luke Ingram, Dylan Williams, Callum Page (sub Seth Chambers, 79 mins), Jacob Lay, Tom Fitzgerald (sub Luke Brown, 74 mins). Unused subs: Hugh Cullum, Christian Frimpong, Fin Shorten.
Referee: Brad Mingay.