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Luke Ingram looks ahead to Needham Market's Emirates FA Cup fourth qualifying round clash with Maidstone United this weekend





Luke Ingram believes Needham Market can cause an upset to reach the first-round proper of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history at Bloomfields this weekend.

The Marketmen stand just 90 minutes away from a place in Monday’s first-round draw, which is televised live on the BBC, where a glamour tie with a team from Sky Bet League One or Two, including Ipswich Town, could be on the cards.

The Suffolk club host Vanarama National League side Maidstone United in the fourth qualifying round at Bloomfields tomorrow (3pm), with last season’s National League South champions sitting two levels higher in the pyramid.

Luke Ingram will be hoping to reach the Emirates FA Cup first round for the first time with Needham Market on Saturday Picture: Mecha Morton
Luke Ingram will be hoping to reach the Emirates FA Cup first round for the first time with Needham Market on Saturday Picture: Mecha Morton

With memories of last season’s giant-killing run to the Isuzu FA Trophy quarter-finals still fresh in the mind, Ingram is hoping to help create more history for the club he has made a record 400-plus appearances for since joining in 2013.

“Everyone’s excited,” the Needham forward said. “For some of the lads who have joined us from a lower level, they’ve never played in the FA Cup before, or if they have they’ve never got this far in it before.

“It’s sort of a free hit for us, but I don’t think Maidstone are looking forward to coming to us.

“We’re a good side and we’re focused. We believe we can pull off a result and we’re not going into it just for a day out.

“To get through to the first round would definitely be up there with all of the things we’ve achieved at Needham. I’ve always been jealous of the other sides that have done it and to then see them in the draw on TV.

“To make the first round would be up there. I’m very proud to get to this point, but one more win would be lovely.”

Luke Ingram was in the Needham side which lost to Cambridge United in their last fourth qualifying round tie in 2013 Picture: Tudor Morgan-Owen
Luke Ingram was in the Needham side which lost to Cambridge United in their last fourth qualifying round tie in 2013 Picture: Tudor Morgan-Owen

Tomorrow’s clash with Maidstone will be Needham’s fourth game in this season’s FA Cup and also their fourth at Bloomfields, having knocked out Leiston (3-1), Sheringham (2-0) and Brightlingsea Regent (2-0) to match their best-ever run in the famous cup competition.

A club record crowd of 1,784 packed into Bloomfields for Needham’s previous appearance in the fourth qualifying round in 2013/14, when Adam Cunnington’s 80th-minute header sent Cambridge United, then top of non-league’s highest tier, through 1-0.

Ingram, along with captain Keiran Morphew, who missed the Cambridge game through injury, are the two remaining players at the club from that last brush with a possible first-round appearance.

Ingram, who only recently returned from an injury lay-off himself, scoring a late penalty in last month’s win against Brightlingsea, feels the crowd can play a part tomorrow.

“Last year the fans played a huge part (in our Trophy run),” he said.

“They carried us through at times along with our football.

“Maidstone are used to playing in front of big crowds, but for us it gives us a five per cent lift.

“I’m excited to be back. It’s been tough as I ended up being out for six months since the last time I played and I’ve never had a break that long before.

“It’s a good time to be at Needham. We’ve made a good start and we feel like it could have been better as well.

“We’re where we want to be and we want to have something to play for at the end of the season.”

The Marketmen saw their six match winning run in all competitions come to an end on Saturday, as they were beaten 1-0 at home by league rivals Stourbridge in the Isuzu FA Trophy.

Manager Kevin Horlock handed a debut off the bench to new signing Kaan Bennett at the weekend, with the teenage winger having joined on an initial one month loan from Colchester United.

Bennett will be available for tomorrow’s FA Cup tie, while Kyle Hammond (suspension) returns along with Dan Morphew, who both missed the Stourbridge defeat.

Captain Morphew and Patrick Brothers both face late fitness tests.

Needham’s home clash with Bedford Town, which was due to be played on Tuesday, has been rearranged for Saturday, October 29.

Lois Balfour scored four times as Needham Market Women beat Harlow Town Ladies 5-0 in the Eastern Region Women’s League Premier Division on Sunday.

Lina Nagib grabbed the other goal for Needham, who visit Kings Lynn Town Ladies this Sunday (2pm).