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Needham Market win fourth straight Suffolk Premier Cup final with goals from Luke Ingram and Jamie McGrath seeing off 10-man Felixstowe & Walton United

Two second-half goals against 10-man Felixstowe & Walton United saw Needham Market celebrate a fourth straight Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup Final victory at Bury Town’s OCS Ram Meadow Stadium to complete a league and cup double.

After a goalless first half Josh Hitter’s second yellow card, both awarded for dissent, in the 47th minute left the depleted lower-league Seasiders with a mountain to climb against the newly-crowned Pitching In Southern League Premier Central champions.

And things got even worse in the 65th minute when deputising goalkeeper Danny Crump knocked over Seth Chambers in the area to concede a penalty which Luke Ingram stroked home.

Needham Market players celebrate a fourth straight Suffolk Premier Cup final victory after overcoming Felixstowe & Walton United at Bury Town FC Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Market players celebrate a fourth straight Suffolk Premier Cup final victory after overcoming Felixstowe & Walton United at Bury Town FC Picture: Ben Pooley

Jamie McGrath cooly converted a Tommy Smith cross in the 71st minute to double their advantage and from their, despite some late pressure, there was no way back for Felixstowe as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.

It was far from a vintage Needham performance but having also hit the crossbar and had an effort cleared off the line in the first half, there was no doubt they were worthy winners of Suffolk FA’s top county cup.

In picking it up for a fourth straight time the Kieran Morphew-captained side immortalised themselves in the cup’s history with only Bury Town from 1958/59 and Sudbury Town from 1986/87 having racked up the quadruple.

Needham Market goalscorer Jamie McGrath is hugged by Luke Ingram (7) in front of captain Kieran Morphew (5) during the Suffolk Premier Cup Final victory against Felixstowe & Walton United Picture: Ben Pooley
Needham Market goalscorer Jamie McGrath is hugged by Luke Ingram (7) in front of captain Kieran Morphew (5) during the Suffolk Premier Cup Final victory against Felixstowe & Walton United Picture: Ben Pooley

Needham boss Kevin Horlock named an unchanged line-up and squad from the one that clinched a historic promotion to Step 2 at home to Royston Town the weekend before last, having then rested players last Tuesday in defeat against Stamford.

Felixstowe & Walton United manager Stuart Boardley was forced to change his goalkeeper due to a rib injury to Josh Blunkell sustained in Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Witham Town with Crump, brother of assistant manager Andy, coming in for his third appearance of the campaign.

Former Needham striker Ben Fowkes was unavailable to play having missed the registration deadline after signing from Peterbrough Sports with Josh Mayhew starting in his place.

There were five changes in total from the weekend for the third-placed Pitching In Isthmian League North Division outfit with Tom Bullard, Andre Hassanally and Callum Harrison all dropping to the bench in place of skipper Billy Holland, Kyran Clements and Sam Ford.

Needham went close to opening the scoring inside two minutes when full-back Tommy Smith’s floated cross-cum-shot bounced back off the face of the bar while a few minutes later Dylan Williams volleyed over.

Felixstowe’s first threatening moment came in the ninth minute when Henry Barley set up Josh Mayhew on the edge of the area and Marcus Garnham pushed out his shot which was straight at him.

The higher-league side went close again when Chambers won the race to a ball bouncing into the area after of keeper Crump and his defence but he saw his effort come down the wrong side of the post.

The game began to calm down after a frantic start and just past the midway point Felixstowe worked another opportunity for Mayhew but his header from a deep cross lacked any power.

The Seasiders were enjoying a good spell around the half-hour mark and went close to the opener when Jacob Lay lost the ball and Mayhew was unable to get a touch on Sam Ford’s dangerous low cross that whizzed past the far post.

Needham began to exert the control they had showed in the opening stages and they thought they had found the opener in the 43rd minute. Chambers headed a great deep cross from Kyle Hammond past Crump’s reach but Kyran Clements somehow managed to hook it off the line with Needham players appealing it had gone over.

Felixstowe started the second half brightly with Hammond blocking Noel Aitkens’ fierce shot with his head at the expense of a corner.

But there was an unexpected twist soon after in the 47th minute when they believed they had forced another one. The asistant seemed to signal so but referee George Laflin thought otherwise and ended up showing Hitter a second yellow card for his protestations to leave the Seasiders with 10 men. The number 10 angrily kicked out at the barrier gate as he left the pitch.

Needham should have gone ahead two minutes later when Luke Ingram’s low cross found Lay unmarked at the back post but with the goal gaping he fired over.

Another Ingram cross soon found Chambers with time and space for a header but he somehow put it wide.

But Felixstowe gifted them the chance to break the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 65th minute when a poor backpass by Noel Aitkens saw Crump rush off his line but only to knock Chambers off the ball. Up stepped Needham’s record appearance maker Ingram before coolly rolling the ball home as Crump dived the other way.

Needham immediately introduced Reece Harris and Adam Mills for Lay and Chambers.

And Horlock’s side went close to doubling their lead a few minutes later with McGrath just unable to make a connection sliding in on Mills’ dangerous cross from deep.

But they did have their second in the 71st minute with another fine left-wing cross, this time from Smith, seeing McGrath apply the finish, sidefooting home from close range at the near post.

Up the other end Harrison, part of a triple change for the Seasiders, saw a cross come off Hammond in the area but the referee was not interested in their calls for handball while another Harrison effort deflected comfortably into Garnham’s arms.

Boardley’s frustration at the referee boiled over in the 82nd minute with his angry reaction to a decision seein him shown a yellow card.

His side continued to look for a goal in vain inside the last seven minutes with Lamell Howell heading harmlessly wide at the far post and Sam Ford lifting a shot over the crossbar from outside the area.

In the second of five minutes of time added on Ingram saw a shot deflected past the near post as Needham looked to add some gloss to the scoreline.

But the two goals were more than enough to ensure the Suffolk bragging rights are well and truly theres once again.

Four fingers was the sign from the Needham players as they celebrated with the trophy on a cold night, but they know this is just the warm up for the big one on Saturday when the league title will be presented at Bloomfields in their final match against third-placed Mickleover (3pm).

Needham: Garnham, Smith, Hammond, K Morphew (cpt), D Morphew, Ingram, Williams (Lawrence 83’), Lay (Harris 66’), Allen, McGrath, Chambers (Mills 66’).

Unused subs: Fraser, Cullum.

Booked: Hammond (44’), Chambers (57’).

Felixstowe: Crump, Howell, Ainsley, Holland (cpt), Clements, Ottley-Gooch (Bullard 75’), Ford, Aitkens, Mayhew (Brown 75’), Hitter, Barley (Harrison 75’).

Unused subs: Hassanally, Whight.

Booked: Hitter (38’, 47’), Boardley (82’), Harrison (90+5’).

Attendance: 604

SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Kyle Hammond. Solid in the tackle all night and provided good width down the right-hand side.