It’s the FA Trophy for Needham Market today and boss Mark Morsley wants his side to win and set up a lucrative trip to Maidstone United in the next round

Ollie Brown (red) has made his long-awaited return to football following a lengthy groin injury

Ollie Brown (red) has made his long-awaited return to football following a lengthy groin injury - Credit: Andy Abbott

Needham Market host Walton & Hersham in an FA Trophy Preliminary Round tie this afternoon in a competition manager Mark Morsley wants to do well in, with a lucrative trip to Maidstone United the reward if they can win this afternoon.

It is no secret that promotion is very much the ultimate aim at Bloomfields this season, but like the FA Cup (where the Marketmen advanced as far as the Third Qualifying Round before being knocked out by Witham Town last weekend), Morsley is certainly not turning his nose up at a run in a highly-respected national competition that also sees plenty of prize money on offer.

“It’s a competition we’re taking seriously and it’s a game I’m hoping to win,” said the Needham boss.

“I’ve always said that I’d like us to do well in the FA competitions, and if we can win, we’ll play Maidstone away in the next round which would be a really intriguing game.

“They’re a big powerful team who play on a 3G pitch with 2,000 fans watching.

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“That said, we won’t underestimate Walton & Hersham in the slightest, they’re struggling in the league (20th in the Ryman South Division), but have just beaten Dulwich Hamlet, (a Ryman Premier Division side on penalties in the Robert Dyas League Cup) so come into the game with a bit of a lift.”

After playing a host of the club’s second-year scholars in the recent but narrow defeats to Leiston in the Robert Dyas League Cup (a 3-0 defeat on penalties after the match finished 1-1) and to Mildenhall Town (1-0) in the Suffolk Premier Cup on Wednesday evening, Morsley will revert back to his experienced and full-strength team today.

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“Those two games were excellent run-outs for the youngsters,” added Morsley.

“They played very well and it was a good experience for them – what’s important is developing them going forward and I now know who is ready for first-team football with us.”

Despite the results, Morsley only sees the pair of games as positive for the club, especially considering long-term absentee Ollie Brown made a 20-minute cameo appearance against Mildenhall after spending the last year on the treatment table with a groin injury.

“It was great to see Ollie back,” added Morsley.

“He’s a good lad who’s had to be patient with his injury, and although he’ll have to be careful, he now just needs a run of games to get match fit.

“We’re looking at the loan market in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division – he needs to be somewhere playing games.”

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