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Luke Ingram on scoring the winner for Needham Market to move into the FA Cup first round for the first time





Luke Ingram felt it was meant to be Needham Market's day as they beat Maidstone United 1-0 to reach the Emirates FA Cup first round for the first time.

The Marketmen's all-time leading appearance maker's ninth-minute strike was the only goal at Bloomfields, which secured his side's victory in this fourth qualifying round tie against their Vanarama National League opponents.

It was an historic win for the Suffolk club who are now in the hat for the first-round draw (live on BBC2 on Monday at 7pm), and Ingram hailed a 'special group of players' who have wrote their names into the club's history books.

Luke Ingram sends his shot past the Maidstone United goalkeeper Picture: Ben Pooley
Luke Ingram sends his shot past the Maidstone United goalkeeper Picture: Ben Pooley

"It feels great," he said. "It's a special day and I think for me it's good things happen to good people.

"There's so many good people at this club and it's why me and a few others stay every year.

"It's easy to jump ship and chase things, but there's something special here and I'm pleased for everyone at the club today."

Needham Market players celebrate Luke Ingram's goal Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Market players celebrate Luke Ingram's goal Picture: Ben Pooley

Ingram, who has racked up more than 400 appearances for Needham since joining in 2013, only recently returned to Kevin Horlock's squad after a lengthy spell on the sidelines through injury.

He marked his comeback with a late penalty in the third qualifying round win against Brightlingsea Regent, which wrapped up a 2-0 victory, but his ninth-minute strike against higher-league Maidstone proved to be the winner.

"I was thinking I can head this in," Ingram said about Jake Dye's cross which he would go on to score the winner from.

"I scuffed the header and it fell on my right and luckily I toed it in.

"It was just meant to be our day and it's one of those things.

"We've beaten a couple of National League sides, and a National League South side, (in the Isuzu FA Trophy last season) and I think we can beat anyone on our day.

"When we scored I didn't think 1-0 would be enough, but it's a special group of players and people are starting to see that.

"People at Maidstone should be looking at teams like us. We've got three or four players who could walk into their team.

"I think we're finally getting the recognition the club deserves."

Needham Market players celebrate at the final whistle Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Market players celebrate at the final whistle Picture: Ben Pooley

Ingram, who was part of the Needham side that lost 1-0 to Cambridge United in their only previous FA Cup fourth qualifying round appearance in 2013, will be a keen observer when the Marketmen make their first appearance in the live first-round draw on Monday.

"It's something that I've always dreamed of," he said. "To sit there with the lads and watch the draw is just something I've always been jealous of.

"We'll enjoy that and hopefully we'll get a big side and have a day out and get some money for the club.

"If I could have my pick it would be Ipswich away. That would be perfect for me. I've got my fingers crossed and will look out for them."