Needham Market captain Gareth Heath happy with Suffolk Premier Cup Final home leg result but left disappointed by performance
Relief more than joy was the over-arching feeling for Needham Market’s Gareth Heath after they came away from Tuesday’s home leg of their Turners Hyundai Suffolk Premier Cup Final with Lowestoft Town with a 3-1 victory.
To the 200-plus crowd in attendance at Bloomfields on Tuesday the hosts were comfortable winners, with Joe Marsden and skipper Heath himself providing goals at either ends of the first half for a 2-0 interval lead.
Adam Tann’s touch on Louis MacInosh’s free kick just after the hour mark had got a few worried but Billy Hunt’s rifled finish 21 minutes from time soon extinguished those concerns.
The view of the Needham players was a bit different though, feeling they had got away with an off night.
“We are happy with the result but performance-wise we are very disappointed,” said Heath.
“We have set our standards since the start of the season; we like to work hard in and out of possession and tonight I can’t put my finger on why that didn’t happen.
“So we are not happy with our performance but I suppose you’ve got to be pleased with taking a two-goal lead into the second leg.”
Manager Kevin Horlock made four changes to the side who picked up a 1-1 draw with a late Luke Ingram goal in the league at Banbury United on Saturday.
Joe Marsden, who laid on the goal, was brought in with Ingram alongside Adam Mills at left-back and Kieran Morphew, returning from suspension. Byron Lawrence was cup-tied while Josh Pollard, Callum Sturgess and Ben Fowkes dropped to the bench.
Barely more than a minute had passed when Ingram had to hook Tann’s header off the goalline.
Needham began to work the ball around the slick surface well and took the lead in the ninth minute when Marsden curled into the top right-hand corner from the left edge of the penalty area.
Andrew Fisk fired over at the other end and Callum Page was denied by a sliding tackle in the box before Andrew Parsons found Marcus Garnham’s gloves as an end-to-end start continued.
Marsden wasted a well positioned free kick as Needham continued to control possession better while Collin Oppong got in behind the defender on the break but put his shot wide.
Lowestoft’s fellow Ipswich Town loanee Levi Andoh slid Jake Dye’s dangerous cross just over his own crossbar.
But Needham’s second arrived in the first minute of stoppage time when Page’s neat one-two with Hunt carried him down the side of the area and he pulled a low ball across for Heath to sweep home.
Both sides had penalty calls waved away early in the second period while Andoh wasted a free header and Hunt’s audacious chip went over the crossbar.
Lowestoft drew one back in the 62nd minute when Tann’s outstretched leg diverted another fine McIntosh delivery into the right-hand corner.
Within three minutes the same player saw his header come back off the underside of the bar.
But it was Needham who got the all-important next goal in the 69th minute. The impressive Noah Collard ended his run by finding Hunt just inside the area with a deflection on his powerful effort ending in the top right-hand corner.
Only a curling effort wide from Owen Murphy 15 minutes from time came close to threatening a reply from Lowestoft.
Needham ended on top and could have had another if Hunt had not been pulled back by Andoh when clear. He got away with the officials not punishing it.
Heath said: “It is disappointing that we conceded like we did because at 2-0 up it puts you on the back foot.
“On Saturday we went 1-0 down (77’) and it sprung us into action and we shouldn’t need that to happen. That is the disappointing thing.
“Tonight we have conceded one and then we wake up again.
“If we want to be in and around the top half challenging this year then our performances have got to be better than it was tonight.”
Lowestoft Town manager Jamie Godbold described it as a ‘game of moments’ in which Needham were more clinical in the final third of the pitch.
He told Suffolk FA's website : “It was certainly different from when we played them 10 days ago (also 3-1 Needham) as were a lot more competitive. The game was a lot closer and I think it was just a game of moments.
“It was two evenly-matched teams, but unfortunately for us they finished their moments and we just failed to produce in the last third. I think in between both boxes it was relatively quite close.”
He added: “In the second half we made a good go of it and got back into the game and it sums football up as we had got momentum and hit the bar and two minutes later the ball ends up in the top corner of our net and takes the sting out of the game.”
* Tickets for the second leg on Tuesday are being sold by Suffolk FA here
SPONSOR EXTENDS LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIP
Needham Market have announced The Windscreen Company has agreed to extend its sponsorship for the next three years. The Ipswich-based company has been the club’s main sponsor for the last 15 years, coinciding with a rise to Step 3 football and development of facilities.