Needham boss Laws hails return trip to Ipswich Town’s Portman Road ground
PORTMAN Road might have become familiar territory for Needham Market but there is no chance of Danny Laws becoming blas� over a return visit.
His side booked their fourth consecutive trip to the home of Ipswich Town with a 2-0 victory over Kirkley & Pakefield on Wednesday night.
But while promotion remains the number one target, Laws is clearly relishing the prospect of a cracking final against local rivals Bury Town in the LB Group Suffolk FA Premier Cup on Friday, April 15.
He said: “A fourth consecutive final is a fantastic achievement and is a credit to everyone at the club. It is no mean feat especially as we have been up against the likes of Ipswich Town reserves, AFC Sudbury and Bury Town.
“The fact that we have again reached the final shows how serious we take the competition. We will look forward to pitting our wits against Bury - in what should be a cracking final - and striving for some silverware before one last push for the league title.”
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A win in their first final in 2008 over Leiston was followed by defeats against Lowestoft Town and Ipswich Town reserves - but those heartbreaks have not diminished anything in the eyes of manager Laws who is one of a handful of staff who have been involved in every match.
Laws’ sidekicks Kevin O’Donnell and Matty Fenn have all experienced the highs and lows with him, as well as the likes of Rhys Barber, Daniel Thrower and James Evans on the playing staff.
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The semi-final win was ever so slightly tarnished 24 hours before by East Thurrock United 3-2 win over Tilbury which saw Needham fall off top spot in the Rymans League Division One North. Three points separate United and the Marketmen who have two games in hand.
It all means the two-horse title race should go down to the final few matches - something that won’t surprise Laws who revealed he sent every outfield player out in the semi-final with a plea to start weighing in with more goals to relieve the pressure on 51-goal trio Craig Parker, Sam Newson and Nathan Stone. Only Newson started against Kirkley and it was Rhys Henry who took the plaudits with the decisive second goal.
He explained: “We can’t just rely on Sam, Nathan and Craig however lucky we are to have all three. Other players have to step up to the mark whether it is defenders from set pieces or wide midfielders. I was delighted for Rhys who has had to be patient for his chance.”
Thurrock have won their last four games at the same time Needham have drawn twice. Every match, every point, is now crucial and Laws believes opposition have wised up to last season’s Ridgeons League champions.
Stone will be back in Laws’ thoughts for a starting spot in tomorrow’s visit to play-off chasing Enfield Town, as will Sheridan Driver, while Parker will undergo a fitness test before a decision is made on his availability.