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Needham Market manager Kevin Horlock eager to see players express themselves during FA Trophy tie at Yeovil Town



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Kevin Horlock has always believed he is managing a number of players at Needham Market that are capable of one day playing at a higher level.

They certainly suggested as much by dumping National League outfit Wealdstone out of the FA Trophy last month, producing an impressive display at Bloomfields that was fully deserving of their 2-1 victory.

And they have the chance to pit themselves against another side from two leagues above tomorrow, with Horlock and his side making the long trip down to Somerset to lock horns with Yeovil Town in the fourth round of the national competition.

Kevin Horlock's Needham will pit themselves against National League side Yeovil Town at the weekend. Picture: Mecha Morton
Kevin Horlock's Needham will pit themselves against National League side Yeovil Town at the weekend. Picture: Mecha Morton

The message from Horlock is simple – 'go out and show what you can do'.

"We got the positive result against Wealdstone and that is bound to have done a lot for belief," said the former Manchester City, West Ham United and Ipswich Town midfielder.

"I said as soon as I came back to Needham that we've got a lot of players that can play at that level (National League), I'm sure of it.

Callum Sturgess is mobbed by team-mates after opening the scoring against Wealdstone. Picture: Mecha Morton
Callum Sturgess is mobbed by team-mates after opening the scoring against Wealdstone. Picture: Mecha Morton

"Some could do it now, others will be able to do it at a later date as they progress and get more experience.

"And that's not me feeding them rubbish, I really believe these lads are good enough.

"You've got to shoot for the stars. We sold the likes of Pagey (Callum Page) to Ipswich recently so the young lads know there is a pathway here.

"They showed what they've got against Wealdstone and there's another opportunity for them to show it again.

The Needham players celebrate their famous victory over Wealdstone in the previous round. Picture: Mecha Morton
The Needham players celebrate their famous victory over Wealdstone in the previous round. Picture: Mecha Morton

"Yes it's away from home this time and the journey makes it a bit tougher, but we won't be looking for or making excuses. It's a big game and one we're really looking forward to."

A notable aspect of the victory against Wealdstone was how the Marketmen took the game to their opposition. They looked to win the ball back high up the pitch, rather than allowing the visitors to have possession with the aim of soaking up pressure and then launching counter-attacks.

Forward Luke Ingram has since told Suffolk News that it is an approach that best suits the team – and Horlock is in firm agreement.

He said: "Whether we're playing a team above us, the same level or below us, we'll watch clips, we'll read reports and we'll get them watched.

The manager is looking for his team to be on the front foot at Huish Park. Picture: Ben Pooley
The manager is looking for his team to be on the front foot at Huish Park. Picture: Ben Pooley

"But if we can we are a team that needs to be on the front foot. We've got some very good attacking players so you have to use them.

"I'm not one for sitting back too much because if you concede – especially early on – where do you go from there?

"I don't want to give away too much, but we'll be looking to play in a similar way to the Wealdstone game.

"I don't want us to just sit there, play for the draw and penalties. That's not in me and it's not in my players either."

For many in the Needham squad, Huish Park is potentially the biggest ground they will have played in – certainly in senior football. It is also likely to be the largest crowd they have appeared in front of, with the Glovers' average attendance so far this term in excess of 2,000.

The danger is that the occasion could get the better of some, but Horlock is hoping his top flight experience can play a factor in easing the pressure, along with the memory of one particular match much closer to home.

"I'll help any way I can. I've been there and seen it and although it was a different level, pressure doesn't change," added the ex-Northern Ireland international.

"I've seen it before, people looking like they're a rabbit trapped in the headlights when they're the big underdog.

"It's our job as a coaching team to help alleviate that pressure – we don't want anyone feeling nervy or edgy.

"We actually had that a couple of seasons ago in the final of the Suffolk Premier Cup against Lowestoft. We won the first leg 2-0 and I think everyone thought it was job done.

"All of a sudden we're 2-0 down within 15 minutes of the second leg and we were all over the place. The pressure got on top of them.

"I said to the lads at half-time, 'what's the worst that can happen? We lose the Premier Cup final, that's it, nothing more'.

"That fear went, they played with a freedom. We were unbelievable in the second half and ended up winning it with 10 men.

"That's the sort of freedom we need at Yeovil. I know it's a big game for so many of them, but if we keep our heads and get a little bit of luck, we've got a chance."

In terms of player availability, Callum Sturgess (calf) and Kyle Hammond (ankle) will be assessed closer to kick-off, but Horlock is hopeful Tom Fitzgerald (groin) will have recovered to feature. Tom Maycock is cup tied though following his loan stint at former club AFC Sudbury.