Fresh from FA Cup exploits against now Football League side Cambridge United last season, Needham Market face United’s rivals - Cambridge City - today in this season’s competition

Needham Market manager Mark Morsley shares a joke with Kem Izzet (left) and Ian Westlake (right) wit

Needham Market manager Mark Morsley shares a joke with Kem Izzet (left) and Ian Westlake (right) with the FA Cup last season - Credit: Archant

Today’s FA Cup encounter for Needham Market certainly has some shadows of similarity from last season as the Marketmen travel to Cambridge City today in the First Qualifying Round after hosting now Football League Club Cambridge United in the Fourth Qualifying Round last campaign.

A massive crowd of 1,784 watched Needham come so close to causing the upset of all upsets at Bloomfields last season as the U’s edged past Mark Morsley’s men by a single goal.

The FA Cup at its magical best, Ryman North’s Needham certainly did not disappoint on the big stage that day as they held their own against opposition who now sit four leagues above the Marketmen.

“Last season’s run in this competition was absolutely fantastic,” said Needham boss Mark Morsley.

“We had some really good games along the way before Cambridge actually - the games at Haverhill Rovers (3-2), Brantham Athletic (3-2), Dunstable Town (3-1), and AFC Sudbury (2-1) in the rounds before were all really good and could’ve quite easily gone against us.”

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Morsley continued: “In your career as a non-league manager you’re always lucky to get two or three massive games, and this one was certainly up there for me.

“Playing in front of more than 1,700 people was incredible and I’ve never witnessed an atmosphere like it.

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“And to be fair, we kept up with them, especially for the opening 35 minutes.

“Our keeper at the time, James Shea, who is now playing for AFC Wimbledon, put in a unreal performance in the second half - he made save after save and really kept us in touch.

“Losing Sam Newson was a big miss for us - not only in the game, but afterwards as he was out for another three months and looking back, we did suffer a bit of a hangover from the loss as it affected our form and chances of promotion in the season.”

Adam Cunnington broke the hosts’ hearts with 10 minutes remaining, but the Marketmen enjoyed an incredible day as Morsley explains.

“It was a great day for the football club and Suffolk non-league football, we could’ve even snatched a replay in stoppage time with a great chance but for all of the people to fall to it fell to Nunny (Sam Nunn, central defender),” he added.

It is ironic then, that this year, Needham pit their wits against Cambridge United’s neighbours, Cambridge City.

Unlike last season though, the Marketmen are on the road - where they hold an impressive league record so far of played five, won five.

“I’m really, really looking forward to the game,” declared Morsley.

“I know their manager (Gary Roberts) quite well and his sides always like to play passing football, and so do we.

“They’re (Cambridge City) a pro club who are third in the Southern League Premier Division and it promises to be a good and interesting game.”

With Needham hotly-tipped for promotion among many punters in the Ryman North this season, it is therefore strange that they go into this game as underdogs. (The Southern League Premier is the equivalent of the Ryman Premier).

“It is rare for us to go into a game as the underdog, but I’m looking forward to seeing how we deal with the expectations against a better side,” added Morsley.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how we deal with being under pressure - and how we deal with getting our chance, which we will. Can we be clinical? I hope we can, I think it’s going to be a great game.”

Morlsey makes no secret that promotion is very much the crucial aim for his side this year, but he isn’t ruling out a few cup runs as well.

“You’ve always got to value the FA competitions because of the money-side of things,” added the Marketmen manager.

“It’s a bit different when there’s two or three grand up for stake and I’d never devalue what is the beautiful competition.

“I won’t be resting players - I’ll be looking to win the game and field the strongest possible team I can, but I’d take three points against Soham Town Rangers on Tuesday (Ryman North league match) over a win on Saturday.

“Focussing on the league and achieving promotion is what we need to do this season.”

Kem Izzet is set to return to the Marketmen’s staring line-up today following unavailablity and suspension, but Danny Cunningham (suspended) and Ian Westlake (hamstring) won’t feature.

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