Needham win Suffolk Senior Cup
Needham Market 2Walsham-le-Willows 1LEIGHTON Miller dosed himself up with pain killers to play a starring role in Needham Market's Suffolk Senior Cup final victory over fellow Ridgeons League First Division side Walsham-le-Willows at Portman Road last night.
Needham Market 2
LEIGHTON Miller dosed himself up with pain killers to play a starring role in Needham Market's Suffolk Senior Cup final victory over fellow Ridgeons League First Division side Walsham-le-Willows at Portman Road last night.
The central defender was named man of the match despite playing with a broken rib he sustained on Monday when Needham lost to Ely in the Ridgeons Division One Cup final.
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Miller was determined to play and he took advice on pain management before convincing manager Mark Morsley that he could last 90 minutes.
“Leighton is a vital member of our side and has made a huge difference since he arrived in the new year,” said Morsley.
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“We were already without two other newcomers who helped us gain promotion as Simon Head and Jermaine Harewood were cup-tied.
“I didn't want to be without Leighton as well. He has proved a massive signing and showed what a strong character he is by not only playing, but playing so well.”
Two goals in two minutes shortly after the interval gave Needham their second success in this competition having previously won in 1990. They were beaten finalists in 1999 and 2000.
After winning promotion to the Premier Division of the Ridgeons League last Saturday, it made it a good week for Morsley's side.
Walsham, who just missed out on promotion, proved lively opponents but were unable to manufacture any clear-cut chances until they staged a late rally.
This is the fourth time they have been beaten by Needham this season and it was a body blow when they conceded a soft own goal in the 52nd minute.
After having the better of the first period, Walsham were left flat when Adam Banks headed a right wing cross from Danny Phillips into his own net.
Phillips had been fed by an astute first-time pass by Miller and Needham skipper Stuart Jopling made his presence felt as the ball swung menacingly into the six-yard box.
Walsham had still not recovered their composure when Pip Boyland played a telling through ball two minutes later. Steve Townes showed his class with an excellent piece of control that made his task of placing the ball beyond Doug Mustoe a mere formality.
In-between the goals, Simon Mann got free, but pulled his shot across the face of the goal with only the keeper to beat.
Needham defended well as Walsham slowly lifted themselves to have the majority of possession in the final half an hour.
Matt Fenn was not unduly troubled until the fourth minute of stoppage time when Jonathan Moye swung over a corner and Banks made amends for his earlier blunder by floating a sweetly-timed header into the corner of the net.
Both teams played with discipline and were well organised and although Jopling had the ball in the net from an offside position within 30 seconds, it was Walsham who looked sprightlier going forward.
David Bloomfield on the right and to a lesser extent Paul Musgrove on the left, posed problems to the Needham defence and from the former's 26th minute cross the latter headed just wide.
Fenn saved a 25-yard shot from Musgrove - and a follow-up effort from Richard Partridge - before Phillips' back-header was saved on the line by a diving Mustoe.
In the 50th minute Fenn saved from Carl Deeks before the crucial Needham two-goal strike. Darren Barnard headed against the bar, before Walsham took over again with Deeks firing into the side netting and Fenn saving a near post header from Paul Nozedar.
Needham manager Mark Morsley said: “We had a chat at half-time, sorted out our shape and fired the team up. I think we surprised Walsham the way we went at them at the start of the second period.
“Winning promotion was the big one for me and this is for the club. We have beaten Walsham four times this season and each time we have absorbed all they had to throw at us and them hit them on the break.
“Full marks to Walsham as they were a credit to their manager and have enjoyed a fabulous first season in the Ridgeons League.”
Walsham manager Paul Smith said: “We were the better side, but the paid a heavy price for a mad five minutes.
“We were shocked by the first goal and were still stunned when they scored the second.
“Apart from that five-minute spell we were in charge, but you have got to put the ball into the net.
“It is very disappointing. I thought about bringing myself off the bench, but we were so much on top I thought it best to leave things as they were.”
Needham skipper Stuart Jopling said: “It has always been a dream to lift the Senior Cup at Portman Road.
“We were under pressure in the first half, but had a chat at the break and started the second period like an express train.
“We were fortunate with the first goal, but when Steve Townes scored the second it took the edge out of the game.”
Needham Market: Fenn, Miller, Boyland, Crawford, Barnard, Henderson, Morsley, Phillips, Jopling, Townes, Mann. Subs: Starling, Spurling, Merchant, Mann, Dale.
Walsham-le-Willows: Mustoe, Banks, Keeble, J Moye, Folkard, T Newman, Bloomfield (Ross 69), Partridge, G Newman, Deeks, P Musgrove (Nozedar 77). Subs: Drummond, M Musgrove, Smith.
Referee: Mr A Sannerude (Pakefield).