Needham make last eight of FA Vase

FA Vase fifth round replayNeedham Market 4 St Ives 0 IN the end it was all rather straightforward for Needham Market.Strange really considering the blood and thunder clash that was endured by both sides last weekend in Cambridgeshire.

Mike Bacon

By Mike Bacon

FA Vase fifth round replay

Needham Market 4 St Ives 0

IN the end it was all rather straightforward for Needham Market.

Strange really considering the blood and thunder clash that was endured by both sides last weekend in Cambridgeshire.

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St Ives were a fancied side and came to Bloomfields standing every chance of a final eight place in this season's FA Vase and a trip to face Surrey-based Merstham.

They had led three times in the first contest between the two teams, but on Saturday they never looked like winning.

St Ives brought plenty of support in the near 600 plus crowd, but on the day they were simply blown away by a competent and mature Needham performance that totally belied the youngsters in Danny Laws team.

If ever one needed an example of the passing game overcoming the physical one, then this was it.

St Ives were strong in every department and could play. But Needham were just as strong in every department . . . but they could play better . . . and did so.

With the crowd expecting a tough nip and tuck encounter, Needham took just one minute to undo St Ives manager Jez Hall's team talk.

Needham's Scott Wark, one of two changes to the side that drew in Cambridgeshire seven days previous, strolled through the midfield and laid the ball off perfectly to Nathan Szyszlyk, the other change from the side that drew in Cambridgeshire seven days previous, and from 10 yards out it was 1-0 to the home team.

Inspired team changes by Laws maybe, and it was just the start the home team were dreaming of.

There followed 20 minutes or so of St Ives possession and it was obvious the home side were going to need another to give themselves a cushion.

However while one goal before half-time would have been a bonus, two was a positive lottery win.

But two is what Needham got, both from corners, both taken by Danny Thrower and met, firstly by Rhys Barber in the 41st minute for goal number two, and then Richard Butler, whose knock-down gave Tommy Smith the chance to poach goal number three two minutes later.

It was shocking defending by a St Ives side who didn't lack height, but quite simply Needham were quicker to everything and that included winning the physical battle.

Captain Mark Bailey set up Smith for a second midway through the second half, but this game was eerily stagnant in the second period with the result never in doubt.

Needham had done much of the hard work by keeping it tight for 20 minutes at the start of the second period and although St Ives huffed and puffed, this game could have been five, six or seven for the home side come the end.

St Ives will feel their chance went in the first game when they led three times, psychologically it appeared that way in their play.

For Needham Market however, their dream season goes on and they now join Lowestoft Town as two Ridgeons League sides in the final eight of the FA Vase.

On this performance bet against Needham Market at your peril.


Needham Market: Jones, Denniss, R Barber, Bailey, Butler, Wark (sub Snell 85), Pemberton (sub Evans 73), Parker, Smith, Szyszlyk (sub Buckle 79), Thrower. Unused subs: B Barber and Thorogood.

St Ives: Mackrey, King, Smith (sub Pilsworth 44), Newman, Fordham, Claridge, Moyes, Albone, Kennett (sub Francis-Johnson 70), Blackwell, Thackrey (sub Howard 62). Unused subs: Poore and Lewis.

Referee: Mr Gavin Muge (Luton)

Attendance: 536

HE will be missing from the next round at Merstham Saturday week, but that didn't stop Needham Market captain Mark Bailey putting in a true grit performance against St Ives on Saturday.

Bailey picked up a booking in a tough affair in Cambridgeshire last weekend and he knew it would mean him missing any sixth round tie should Needham get there.

But like his team-mates he gave an outstanding performance at Bloomfields as Needham moved into the last eight of the Vase.

"We are all obviously very pleased with the result," Bailey said.

"We knew if we got them on a half-decent pitch we could play our game and beat them.

"Our two goals from corners were great deliveries by Danny Thrower. Yes, I miss the next round, I knew that when I got booked last week. But we've got a good enough squad.

Needham manager Danny Laws said: "We've been saying to the boys we need to push on and get two goals ahead after we have taken a lead," Laws said.

"At the start of the season we were often going in at the break three ahead, but that hasn't happened for a while.

"My players worked their socks off and I was pleased for Scott Wark and Nathan Szyszlyk, because they were my two changes from last week and in the first minute they combined for the opener.

"The crowd were great today and came out and gave us superb support. I want to thank them for that and the people behind the scenes here at Needham who have helped make it happen.

"We now face a tough one at Merstham. Their record is the best in Step Five this season so far and our's is second best. But I reckon the Eastern Counties League is stronger."

Needham chairman David Bugg was as nervous as any at Bloomfields before the start, especially after his side's continued late goal showings. But an early goal on Saturday settled any nerves.

"It was an absolutely excellent performance," he said.

"Certainly not quite the nail-biter it was the week before. A superb crowd, more like 700 as we let children in for free. Let's hope people come back."

St Ives manager Jez Hall was gracious in defeat.

"We looked heavy-legged out there today and I can't explain that," he said.

"Our chance probably went last week and then to concede within a minute here was disastrous. The second half was all about pride and I think we restored a bit of that.

"But good luck to Needham, they are a good side. I hope they go on and win it."