Crowd of around 2,000 expected for Needham Market’s FA Cup clash with Cambridge United

Mark Morsley

Mark Morsley

A bumper crowd of around 2,000 is expected for Needham Market’s mouth-watering FA Cup clash with Conference leaders, Cambridge United, on Saturday.

Marketmen manager Mark Morsley confirmed yesterday that Cambridge had already sold close to 800 tickets for the Fourth Qualifying Round clash.

Such a figure would smash Needham’s record attendance of 1,375 which was set for an FA Vase semi-final clash with Kirkham & Wesham in the 2007/08 season, and see the club’s average gate of 245 this season go up dramatically.

Three turnstiles will be opened on the day to cope with the increased numbers, with one devoted entirely to fans who have bought tickets directly from the former Football League club.

“As a club we are looking towards having 2,000 people at the game,” said Morsley.

“Everyone I have spoken to has said they will be there and with Ipswich Town playing away, that always puts a few more on the gate.

“There will be no segregation but there will be additional stewards and plain-clothed Police officers will be operating, although I don’t think there will be a big problem.

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“My main message to supporters would be to get there early and be patient.”

With Cup fever sweeping Bloomfields, few would expect the Needham squad not to get caught up in the atmosphere, especially as they are only part-time players.

Morsley certainly believes they are gearing up for the big occasion and admitted that they took their eyes off the ball at the weekend, the side going down to just their first Ryman League Division One North defeat of the season, 2-1 at Redbridge, on Saturday.

“We were poor on Saturday and there is no doubt that the FA Cup draw had an influence on our performance,” said Morsley.

“I have been around the block in non-league and to be fair to the players, this is one of the biggest games of their lives.

“We were 1-0 up at Redbridge and ordinarily we would have looked to go to war.

“That didn’t happen but I am fairly philosophical and I didn’t go over the top at them after the game.

“I have told them that I will be looking for a reaction now in the next league game at Harlow, but before then we have the game against Cambridge and a Ryman League Cup game against Leiston.”

Morsley will again be able to call upon the services of goalkeeper James Shea at the weekend, the former Arsenal goalkeeper having signed at Bloomfields again for the Cup, after making his debut in the last round victory against AFC Sudbury.

“I am sure I will be unpopular with some players when I pick the team,” said Morsley.

“I have made a decision on the goalkeeping situation and with Andrew Plummer (hamstring) not 100%, I have brought in James Shea again.

“I have had the conversation with Andrew (Plummer) and credit to the lad, he is focused on being second choice for the game.

“We have a few other niggles and I won’t be picking my team until Friday night.”

Saturday’s opponents remain undefeated in Skrill Premier and maintained their perfect home record with a 2-0 victory over Salisbury City on Saturday.

Crystal Palace loanee Kwesi Appiah scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season to leave his team six points clear at the top.

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