Goal machine Parker bids to end hoodoo as Needham Market do battle with Bury Town

NEEDHAM Market’s incredible goalscoring midfielder Craig Parker will tonight be hoping lightning doesn’t strike for a remarkable fifth time.

His run in the Suffolk Premier Cup final makes for pretty grim reading – played four, lost four.

Now the midfielder is hoping to change all that when Needham face his old club Bury Town in tonight’s Portman Road showcase (7pm ko).

Parker said: “I am pretty desperate to win after the four defeats. It is a big game and a cup final where the whole club wants to do well.”

Parker’s depressing personal run in the competition started in 2004 when the then-Bury player was on the losing side against AFC Sudbury. A year later, the club returned to the final but again tasted defeat, this time at the hands of Needham.

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The luckless midfielder then moved to Needham where the ill-fortune continued, losing out to Lowestoft and Ipswich Town Reserves in successive finals.

And even when Needham did lift the trophy, after a penalty shoot out win over Leiston in 2008, Parker wasn’t even in the squad after suffering a cruciate knee injury.

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Although Needham, like Bury, appear to have missed out on automatic promotion, they will go into the play-offs as favourites – largely on the back of the goalscoring prowess of Nathan Stone, Sam Newson and, most of all, Parker.

The 25-year-old is just one away from scoring 40 goals this season and given his past at the home of Ipswich Town, it would be fitting if he clocked that particular milestone tonight.

Standing in his way in the heart of the midfield battle could be James Scowcroft if Bury boss Richard Wilkins decides to give the veteran midfielder a special homecoming at the scene of his 200-plus appearances for the Blues.

Scowcroft said: “It will be great going back to Portman Road, it is one of the best pitches in the country, and an ideal place to have the final.

“It should be a great cup final for the neutral between two sides who have done really well this season. I hope it shows how strong non-league football is in Suffolk.”

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