He seriously considered quitting, but Needham Market boss Mark Morsley says play-off pain has only made him more determined to get Needham Market into the Ryman League Premier Division

Needham Market boss Mark Morsley (centre) and players Kem Izzet and Ian Westlake pictured with the F

Needham Market boss Mark Morsley (centre) and players Kem Izzet and Ian Westlake pictured with the FA Cup. Morsley says that cup competitions will take a back seat next season. - Credit: Archant

Needham Market boss Mark Morsley says his side’s bitter play-off defeat has left him doubly determined to achieve promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division next season.

The experienced non-league manager said he was considering his future in the game after Witham played Marketmen loanee Lee Townrow – allegedly breaking a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ – in their 1-0 semi-final win. To rub salt in the wounds, the Essex side went on to win the final and move up to Step Three of the pyramid.

Now that the dust has settled, Morsley has already started planning for an assault on the Division One North title in what will be his second campaign back at Bloomfields.

“It wasn’t just a heat of the moment comment, I genuinely thought a lot about whether I wanted to carry on,” he said.

“There’s a real good camaraderie among non-league managers, I pride myself on being there to give advice to others, so what happened hurt me.


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“It was never about defeat. People who have known me over the years have always commented on what a good loser I am. I hate losing, don’t get me wrong, but I have always been able to deal with it. I just took that as a personal knock.

“The chairman fully supported how I felt, but he said to me ‘it would be a shame if you let other peoples’ actions force you out of the game’.

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“I stood up at our end of season awards night and just said to the players ‘the things that disappoint you today just make you stronger for tomorrow’. It’s just motivated me more to improve this football team and go up next season.”

Morsley’s plan is to mould a group of homegrown youngsters around a handful of experienced ex-professional professionals.

Former Colchester midfielder Kem Izzet still has a year left on his current contract, while Ian Westlake and Chris Hogg (both ex-Ipswich Town) are close to agreeing new deals.

Sam Newson and Ryan Crisp are both staying on at the mid-Suffolk club, while Suffolk Under-18 Player of the Year Brendan Heath has been promoted from the academy.

“In the main I am pleased with the squad I have got,” said Morsley. “I don’t think that we are too far away. We just need a little tweak here and there.

“It’s a cliche, but you finish where you deserve to finish. We ended up in fifth and didn’t win the play-offs.

“The first season was always going to be about bedding in a lot of new players and making sure we limited opposition to as many zeros as possible.

“We did that, 44 goals conceded in 46 games was a great record – now we need to start building the rest of the house now that the foundations are down.

“Now we need to focus on how we attack as a team and how we can score more goals as a team. If we can get that right, and I can add another striker, then I think we will win it (the league) or push whoever does all the way. We’ll certainly be in the play-offs again.

“I’m not being big-headed, I just really believe that from what I’ve seen over the last two or three months.”

He added: “Our number one aim will be success in the league. Other competitions will have to take a back seat because the next step for this football club has to be reaching the Ryman Premier League.”

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