Needham Market to face Cambridge United in FA Cup
- Credit: James Ager
Needham Market manager Mark Morsley has welcomed the test that non-league giants Cambridge United will provide on and off the pitch.
Morsley’s team will host Richard Money’s Skrill Premier leaders in the FA CUp Fourth Qualifying Round on October 26, following their 2-1 home victory over Suffolk rivals AFC Sudbury at the weekend.
A bumper crowd should eclipse Saturday’s sizeable attendance of 634 with the U’s set to bring a hefty following.
Morsley believes the occasion will be ideal practice for the ambitious Bloomfields outfit.
“This is the ideal game and it’s great for everyone who works so hard behind the scenes,” said Morsley.
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“Cambridge are top of the Conference Premier and only 40 miles away up the road.
“Financially it’s massive to us and to win would be incredible.
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“But it’s a tough test and that’s what I wanted, while I’m sure the club got what they wanted too.”
Needham are currently sixth in Ryman League Division One North, outside the play-off places on goal difference, and the ambitious club have aims to progress up the leagues.
Morsley, who is in the first year of a four-year deal, added: “If we want to move up the footballing pyramid and move forward, then this is the ideal test for us.
“I would imagine the game will attract around 1,500 fans with Cambridge bringing a big away support, so will the game be all-ticket or not?
“Then there is always the chance that the game could be chosen for live TV coverage and that would be another thing for us to deal with.”
Goals from Luke Ingram and Ian Westlake secured Needham a cool £7,500 and their passage and the Marketmen boss revealed it was all hands to the pump at Bloomfields, prior to the game.
“We like to have the pitch cut short to accommodate the style of football so, at 7am on Saturday, our groundsman (Ken Thorpe) and vice chairman (Nick Francis) were out cutting the pitch,” he added.
“Afterwards Ken was sat with a bottle of Pils in each hand and we agreed it was great to be involved in such a game.”
Following the win, Morsley expressed a desire to be drawn away at 1988 League Cup winners Luton, a club that has fallen on hard times in recent years, in order to give his part-timers experience against a professional outfit.
Woking were instead given that honour, while Needham were handed arguably the toughest tie of the Southern section.
And Morsley admitted he’d struggle to keep his team grounded.
“The league is our priority,” he said.”
“Hastings reached the Third Round last season, where they lost to Middlesbrough, but were also relegated.
“But you can’t keep the players grounded, I have tried it, and the fact of the matter is that the FA Cup will take over in the next couple of weeks.”