Gallery: Town’s big guns fire Blues to Premier Cup win

IPSWICH Town’s big guns Lee Martin, Pablo Counago and Alan Quinn combined to put the Blues on the road to a 4-1 victory in the final of the LB Group Suffolk Premier Cup at Portman Road last night.

Ridgeons League Needham Market were far from disgraced and the side looking to move up to Step Four of the Football League pyramid by winning the Premier Division this term certainly had their moments.

They relished the opportunity of playing against full-time opponents with their manager Danny Laws having done enough in his time at Needham to suggest he could handle himself comfortably at a higher level.

But it was the extra experience of the three senior Town players plus an energetic display by Luke Hyam in midfield that marked the difference between the two sides with Ipswich having to work hard for their victory.

Town fielded a side of professionals and second-year scholars who have been offered full contracts for next season, with a number looking to impress with Saturday’s visit to Newcastle United in the Championship in mind.

Needham were cheered on by their enthusiastic supporters with Kevin Horlock, who played for a ‘Legends’ Town side that beat Norwich City at Great Yarmouth on Sunday, a reassuring figure at left-back.

It was the �2million signing from Manchester United Martin who gave the Blues the lead in the 12th minute after being set up by Quinn and Counago. Quinn won the ball after Rhys Barber ran into trouble when it was easier to clear upfield. He found Counago, and the Spaniard’s neat back-heel put Martin clear to score at the second attempt after Danny Gay had blocked his first effort.

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With Ipswich manager Roy Keane and members of his coaching staff looking on, Needham had plenty of possession and passed the ball around neatly at times. But their howls for a penalty rightly turned down when Danny Thrower fell when challenged by Ian McLoughlin.

In the 27th minute Ipswich made it two when Counago turned smartly right on the edge of the penalty area and was caught by the right boot of Pip Boyland. Needham claimed the offence took place outside the area, but the referee was adamant, and Billy Clark, fresh from his four minutes of first team action on Saturday sent Gay the wrong way with a professionally-taken penalty.

It was no great surprise when Danny Smy and Matt Buckle were replaced at the interval as they had both fallen foul of the referee and received yellow cards, the former having trouble in holding his temper.

Clark’s fine ball saw Counago twist around Gay in the 47th minute, and from his precise pull-back, Hyam side-footed wide when well placed. Reggie Lambe then shot hastily over after cutting inside well.

It was all Town now and in the 53rd minute Clark crossed well from the left and Counago was denied by a fine block by the busy Gay.

With 10 minutes left, Bermudian international Lambe rammed home a neat forward pass by Martin to extend Town’s lead with McLoughlin still to be seriously tested.

Clark made it four with two minutes to go, creating space well after a Martin run to score of the underside of the bar before Needham netted a deserved consolation goal in stoppage time when James Evans’ throw was back-headed by Barber and Darren Bethell hooked home from close range.

WINNING Ipswich Town manager Steve Foley praised the attitude of his senior players: “Questions are going to be asked in games like this but they showed the right approach and the right respect for Needham Market.

“We were in the competition to win it and this is what we wanted to do. Needham played some nice football, but you could see the steady progress that some of our youngsters have made.

Needham Market manager Danny Laws said: “A three-goal margin was just about right with Ipswich showing a killer instinct in front of goal. Our keeper made four great saves.

“It was nice to finish with a flurry and get a goal particularly for our fans who were great.”

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