MANAGER Warren Lewis-Claxton said winning their first MH Goals Suffolk Women’s Cup was the ‘icing on the cake’ for Needham Market.
After three final defeats in four seasons, Needham Market finally won the trophy thanks to a 6-0 victory over Bungay Town in Tuesday’s final at Colchester United FC.
A combination of poor finishing and good saves from Bungay keeper Maddie Flatman meant they only led 1-0 at half-time through Mia Etheridge’s 25th minute cross-shot.
However, the floodgates opened with three goals in the opening seven minutes of the second-half to extinguish any fears that Needham may pay for their profligacy in front of goal.
Mia Etheridge (red shirt, No.10) puts Needham Market ahead after 25 minutes. Main photograph: Needham Market celebrate with the cup. Photographs: Paul Voller
Nicole Pannifer set the ball rolling in the 48th minute, fellow full-back Eva Hubbard then also scored with a shot across the keeper before Lina Nagib’s powerful effort went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Ellie Rossiter, who was a constant threat down the right, then raced clear to make it 5-0 on the hour, with Etheridge heading home at the far post from a free-kick after 82 minutes to complete the scoring.
Zoe Cossey came close a couple of times late on to scoring what would have been a deserved consolation goal for the Norfolk Women’s & Girls’ Football League Division One side.
Needham Market manager Warren Lewis Claxton said afterwards: “It has been a long time coming, but I am really delighted that we have finally been able to lift this trophy.
“In the first-half I just think we were lacking in that final third. If we were a little more clinical, we could have definitely got a few more in that first-half, but in the second-half we came out and changed that.”
Lewis-Claxton said his side had enjoyed a successful season after winning promotion to the Premier Division of the Eastern Regional Women’s Football League last season.
In addition to winning the county cup, Needham are on course for a top-three finish this season, reached the first round proper of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup, and semi-finals of the League Cup.
“Overall, I think we have had a really successful season and this is the icing on the top.”
Bungay Town goalkeeper Maddie Flatman is beaten by Lina Nagib's powerful drive that entered the net via the underside of the crossbar for Needham Market's fourth goal. Photograph: Paul Voller
Bungay Town manager Darren Renwick said: “I am really proud of what we have achieved this season and especially reaching our first county cup final, despite the result.
“I thought we switched off for 15 minutes at the start of the second-half and it cost us, but I can’t fault the attitude and effort of my team.
“Needham are a fantastic team with some exceptional players who play lovely football and they fully deserved their win.
“Having experienced this tonight the team have already said they want more of it and so the aim will be to challenge again and try to come back next year.
“We want to be playing against team likes this and build on what we have done so far, and I am looking forward to pre-season already.
“Thank you to everyone involved in organising tonight – it has been a fantastic experience and we have loved every minute of it.”
The cup and medals were presented by Matt Harrod of competition sponsors MH Goals and Suffolk FA Football Development Officer (Growth) Kirsty Smith.
Bungay Town goalkeeper Maddie Flatman pulls off one of a string of saves in the final against Needham Market. Photograph: Paul Voller
Needham Market: Daisie Gibbs, Nicole Pannifer, Eva Hubbard, Laura Bloomfield, Ele Catchpole, Ellie Rossiter, Lois Balfour, Mia Etheridge, Lina Nagib, Molly Hall, Paige Wakefield. Used subs: Charlotte McGrath, Jo Brawn, Jodie Sharp, Poppy Nunn, Miamh Thomas.
Bungay Town: Maddie Flatman, Porsha Renwick, Ruby Roos, Ciera Flatt, Erin Galer, Charnelle Riggall, Selinna Rowland, Lucy Hood, Gemma Foster, Zoe Cossey, Lauren Goulder. Used subs: Lauren Purling, Sofia Serghiou, Poppy Fenn, Amber Leeks. Unused sub: Lyndsey Adams.
Referee: Tom Ling.