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Non-league football round-up: Needham Market exit FA Trophy while Felixstowe & Walton United, AFC Sudbury, Leiston and Ipswich Wanderers all win



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As the famous saying goes: 'All good things must come to an end'. For those connected with Needham Market the last few months are bound to live long in the memory.

The Marketmen defeated two Vanarama National League sides and one from the National League South during what was an inspiring club-record run to the quarter-finals of the Buildbase FA Trophy.

But on Saturday they found Stockport County to be a bridge too far, with the National League leaders Stockport County running out 3-0 winners against Kevin Horlock's men.

Needham's Callum Sturgess looks on as Stockport celebrate a goal. Picture: Mecha Morton
Needham's Callum Sturgess looks on as Stockport celebrate a goal. Picture: Mecha Morton

A crowd of more than 1,500 at Bloomfields saw County score three times without reply during the first half before Needham goalkeeper Marcus Garnham pulled off a string of second-half saves to ensure no further damage was inflicted.

Click here for sports editor Russell's Claydon match report while here boss Horlock reflects on the defeat.

Meanwhile, Needham's league rivals Leiston and Lowestoft Town were both in Pitching In Southern League Central Premier Division action – and they had mixed fortunes.

More than 1,500 people watched the quarter-final tie at Bloomfields. Picture: Mecha Morton
More than 1,500 people watched the quarter-final tie at Bloomfields. Picture: Mecha Morton

Seventh-placed Leiston were impressive 3-0 winners on the road at Rushall Olympic (3rd). Second-half goals from Finlay Barnes, Adam Mills and Siju Odelusi (penalty) completed the job for the Blues, who are seven points adrift of the play-offs.

In contrast, second-from-bottom Lowestoft Town are five points from safety following a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Hednesford Town.

A level down in the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division, Stowmarket Town remain firmly in the promotion race thanks to their 1-0 home victory at the expense of Grays Athletic.

A goal from Bermuda international Willie Clemons was all that split the two sides, leaving Stowmarket a point behind table-topping Canvey Island with a game in hand.

While the battle for the title looks like it could down to the wire, the same could well be said for the play-offs as all of the sides in the top half still harbour realistic ambitions of forcing their way in.

Two of those teams – Felixstowe & Walton United and AFC Sudbury – will meet in a crunch Suffolk derby on Tuesday night on the back of both picking up victories at the weekend.

Felixstowe's 1-0 win at Witham Town came courtesy of a late goal from Ollie Canfer, while Sudbury triumphed 2-0 at home against Heybridge Swifts via goals from Southend United loanee Cameron Forde-Brown and Reece Harris.

Those results leave Felixstowe (7th) only out of the play-offs on goal difference, with the ninth-placed Yellows – on a run of six clean sheets in the league – four points further back.

As for 12th-placed Bury Town, their inconsistent campaign continued with a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of another play-off hunting outfit – Hashtag United.

A goal in either half from former Sudbury player Sam Bantick and Luke Hirst earned the three points for the visitors in front of a crowd of 795 at the Atalian Servest Stadium.

In the equivalent-level Pitching In Northern League Midlands Division, bottom-of-the-table Soham Town Rangers are now just three points from the relegation/promotion play-off place after they played out a 2-2 draw at Loughborough Dynamo.

Ollie Ward's goal edged the travelling Greens in front, while Alfie Connor's 50th-minute effort ensured they left Leicestershire with a share of the spoils after falling 2-1 behind.

The point was all the more impressive for Soham given that they had to play the final 30 minutes with 10 men after midfielder Jon Kaye was red carded.

In the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, Hadleigh United put six points between themselves and the relegation zone courtesy of an eye-catching 1-0 win at title-hunting Wroxham.

Joel Glover scored the only goal of the game two minutes from time for Steve Holder's side, who have won three of their last five league games.

Also giving their survival hopes a boost were Haverhill Rovers as they beat fifth-placed Mulbarton 1-0 at The New Croft.

While the result – which came about courtesy of Josh Lee's 80th-minute goal – did not lift Rovers out of the bottom two, they are now level on points with a Long Melford side that suffered a 3-1 loss at home to March Town United.

Hassan Ally was on target for the third-from-bottom Villagers, who have a game in hand on Rovers and a goal difference that is superior by five.

At the top end of the division it was a disappointing day for league-leading Mildenhall Town as they saw their advantage cut to just a point.

Alby Matthews' stoppage-time goal earned visiting Norwich United a 1-0 win at the newly-named Riverside Stadium, while second-placed Gorleston made up ground with their 3-1 win over Whitton United (14th).

Gorleston are just a point behind Mildenhall with two games in hand – and the two teams are due to meet on the Norfolk coast next weekend.

The mid-table clash between Kirkley & Pakefield (11th) and Newmarket Town (9th) went the way of the home side 2-1, with their goals coming courtesy of Danny Conroy and Kyle Haylock.

And that defeat for Newmarket allowed Woodbridge Town to move into eighth after they overcome bottom-of-the-table Swaffham Town 1-0 – a third win in their last four outings.

Meanwhile, the derby between Thetford Town (16th) and Lakenheath (13th) ended 0-0 at Mundford Road.

Harleston celebrate Ryan Crisp's goal against Downham. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Harleston celebrate Ryan Crisp's goal against Downham. Picture: Mark Bullimore

In the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, Harleston Town are no longer in control of their own destiny at the top following a 2-2 draw at home with Downham Town.

Goals from Lawrence Cheese and Ryan Crisp put the table toppers in command at Wilderness Lane, but a couple of late goals from the visitors pegged them back.

Nicky Howell's team now have a seven-point lead at the summit but second-placed Sheringham have three games in hand, which if they were to win would put them two points clear.

Elsewhere in the division, Framlingham Town remain in the play-offs following their 2-1 home win at the expense of Diss Town.

Lawrence Cheese was on target for Harleston in their draw with Downham. Picture: Mark Bullimore
Lawrence Cheese was on target for Harleston in their draw with Downham. Picture: Mark Bullimore

Max Willett and Daniel Smith scored the goals for the hosting Castlemen, while Lagshan Sivakumar netted for a ninth-placed Diss team that are without a win from their last seven First Division North outings – a run that dates back to January 8.

In the First Division South, Haverhill Borough moved off the bottom of the table thanks to their 1-0 win at Cornard United (17th).

Spencer Sykes' first-half penalty was enough to earn all three points for Borough, who have jumped above Brimsdown on goal difference.

At the other end of the table, Matt Blake's 50th goal for Ipswich Wanderers secured a 1-0 victory at Barkingside.

The former Leiston, Thetford and Stowmarket striker has reached his half century in just 44 appearances. And his impact ensured league-leading Wanderers remain five points ahead of second-placed Buckhurst Hill, who thrashed AFC Sudbury Reserves (14th) 6-0.

Elsewhere, Halstead Town (4th) tightened their grip on a play-off spot as they put back-to-back defeats behind them by beating Hackney Wick 4-1.

Calvin Poku bagged a brace for the Humbugs alongside goals from Matt Travell and Jordan Blackwell (penalty).

Midweek fixtures (kick offs 7.45pm unless otherwise stated)

Tuesday, March 15

Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup quarter-finals

Woodbridge Town v Needham Market

Lakenheath v Stowmarket Town

Pitching In Southern League Central Premier Division

Leiston v Tamworth

Pitching In Isthmian League North Division

Felixstowe & Walton United v AFC Sudbury

Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division

Brantham Athletic v Newmarket Town

Ely City v Hadleigh United

Whitton United v Wroxham

Thurlow Nunn League First Division North

Diss Town v Sheringham

Thurlow Nunn League First Division South

Haverhill Borough v AFC Sudbury Reserves

Wednesday, March 16

Thurlow Nunn League First Division North

Harleston Town v Debenham LC

Thurlow Nunn League First Division South

Benfleet v Ipswich Wanderers