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Needham Market look to complete league and cup double with victory over Felixstowe & Walton United in Suffolk Premier Cup Final





Winning this season’s Endeavour Automotive Suffolk Premier Cup would be the ‘cherry on the cake’ for Needham Market.

The Marketmen, who have already clinched promotion, face lower-league Felixstowe & Walton United in Tuesday’s final at the OCS Ram Meadow Stadium, home of Bury Town FC (7.45pm – tickets available here).

Manager Kevin Horlock and his side will be chasing a fourth successive victory in the competition, albeit the 2020/21 edition was cancelled due to Covid the year after their first win.

Needham Market striker Seth Chambers has scored 10 times in this season’s competition including two goals in his side’s 4-2 victory over an Ipswich Town XI in their semi-final at Hadleigh United FC Picture: Mecha Morton
Needham Market striker Seth Chambers has scored 10 times in this season’s competition including two goals in his side’s 4-2 victory over an Ipswich Town XI in their semi-final at Hadleigh United FC Picture: Mecha Morton

Only Bury Town, who won the inaugural competition in the 1958/59 season and then lifted the cup in the following three campaigns, and Sudbury Town (1986/87 until 1989/90) have previously achieved the feat.

Horlock said: “It is a competition we are really proud to be part of and we have won three on the spin and have a chance to make it four. We always go strong in it and try to get to the final and lift the trophy.

“We have had a great season and to win it again would be the cherry on the cake.”

Needham Market players celebrate winning the league following victory against Royston Town Picture: Mecha Morton
Needham Market players celebrate winning the league following victory against Royston Town Picture: Mecha Morton

Jamie McGrath netted a hat-trick as Needham defeated Royston Town 3-1 a week ago on Saturday to confirm them as champions of Pitching In Southern League Premier Central.

It means they will become only the second Suffolk side to play Step 2 football next season in either National League North or South.

Horlock said: “This group of lads have created history over the last two seasons in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, three Premier Cup wins and now securing Step 2 football for little old Needham Market.

“What they have achieved is unbelievable and this season will go down in history and will be hard to beat.”

Needham were without a match on Saturday, meaning they have had a whole week to prepare for Tuesday’s final.

Horlock, who went and watched Felixstowe play along with assistant manager Tom Rothery and goalkeeper Marcus Garnham, said: “If you win it’s good for you, but if you don’t win then it’s not good for you!

“We have had a long and hard season with all the travelling we do, and we don’t get many weekends off, so it was nice for the players to have no game and spend time with their families.”

Apart from the injured Jake Dye, Horlock has a full squad to choose from. Long-term injury victim Patrick Brothers is now back in training, but the final may be too soon for him to be involved.

‘Nothing to lose’ for Felixstowe

Meanwhile, Felixstowe & Walton United manager Stuart Boardley says his side go into the final with ‘nothing to lose’.

He believes the odds are stacked against the Seasiders causing an upset when they face Needham Market at Bury Town FC.

The Isthmian North promotion-chasers will be without regular goalkeeper Josh Blunkell, who suffered suspected broken ribs in Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Witham Town.

Boardley said: “We don’t know if he has broken his ribs, but he will definitely be out.

“The only two goalkeepers registered are former first-team keeper Danny Crump and under-18 keeper Zac Tuvey, so it is likely that Danny will step in. It is not ideal, but it is what it is.”

That comes on top of the absence of long-term injuries to Jack Ainsley and Charlie Warren, while Callum Bennett will be missing with a thigh injury.

Former Needham Market striker Ben Fowkes, who recently signed for the Seasiders from Peterborough Sports, will not be eligible to play as he was not registered 21 days before the final.

Boardley said: “We ware going into it with nothing to lose. It is a win-win for us because all the pressure will be on Needham Market as they will be expected to win.

“They are the cup holders and have just won promotion, so the odds are stacked against us. The final has fallen in an important run of games for us when we are trying to finish as high as we can in the league, whereas Needham have clinched their title, so they can play their strongest squad.”

The Seasiders produced a superb display to knock-out higher-league Leiston in the semi-finals, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1.

Boardley said: “When we play the better teams we tend to perform better. We have often struggled against the lesser teams, so it is a challenge which may bring out the best in us.

“I think we have a squad on a par with Leiston, who are a Step 3 side, and that is where we would like to be playing out football next season.”