Needham Market pair relishing FA Trophy clash with Stockport County
Two of Needham Market’s FA Trophy heroes are relishing their toughest test yet as they look to keep their Wembley dreams alive this weekend.
Kevin Horlock’s men are preparing to welcome National League leaders Stockport to Bloomfields in the last eight on Saturday afternoon looking to claim another higher-division scalp having already seen off the likes of National League sides Yeovil Town and Wealdstone to get this far.
Goalkeeper Marcus Garnham was the star of the penalty shootout against Yeovil and though he knows this weekend represents a step up, he believes in the old saying – to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We weren’t expected to beat Wealdstone, we weren’t expected to beat Yeovil, we weren’t expected to beat Dartford and here we are against Stockport, and we’re not expected to beat them either.
“Anything can happen on the day. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.
“Yes, they’re going to have to have an off day with the quality of players they’ve got, we’re going to have to play out of our skins, we’re going to have to be quite lucky and get away with things. But we’ll give it our all and see what happens.”
Luke Ingram, who scored the winner in the 1-0 win over Dartford in the last round, admitted he was disappointed to see Stockport appear out the hat – in contrast to boss Horlock, who spent six years playing for nearby Manchester City and said County were the team he wanted to draw.
Ingram is still backing his side to spring a surprise, however, and said: “I was kind of gutted because obviously there were other teams that may not have been such a hard game.
“But to be honest, if we actually want to get to Wembley, at some point we’re going to have to play the best teams.
“They’re coming down to us, we don’t have to go to them, and I think things are in place for another upset.”
Both Garnham and Ingram are trying not getting carried away by dreams of the Wembley arch just yet but the prospect remains a tantalising one.
They do not have to look too far back for inspiration, with Hornchurch – also a seventh-tier side and, like the Marketmen – going all the way and lifting the Trophy last season.
“It would mean the world to do that but we’ve got to take things one game at a time, and we’ve got to look at reality,” said Garnham.
“These guys haven’t lost a game since December, they’re absolutely flying, they’ve got good quality throughout their whole squad, it’s going to be a tough ask."
Ingram added: “I never expected to be playing at Wembley, so knowing we’re in the quarter-finals and there are just two more hurdles, it’s amazing.
“It’s like a surprise, it’s something I never thought I’d be having this conversation about. It would be the most amazing thing that could ever happen to us in football.”
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