Needham Market eye up ‘a major scalp’

DEFEATING AFC Sudbury tomorrow night would be “a major scalp” for the club, according to Needham Market chairman David Bugg.

Although Needham currently sit top of Division One North of the Ryman League and AFC Sudbury are ninth, Bugg is in no doubt what it would mean to his club to pick up all three points in their quest for promotion to the Premier Division.

Needham are enjoying their first season at Step 4 level, after winning the Ridgeons League last season and opting to move up to the Ryman League alongside AFC Sudbury.

But Bugg said: “Sudbury were always the leading team in the Eastern Counties League that the top players in Suffolk played for, and as a club we have done well to now be on a par with them.

“But we still look on beating Sudbury as a major scalp.

“We played them in the FA Cup last season and won 2-0 away and that was a huge win for us at the time.

“Tomorrow night is also a huge game for us and we are very much looking forward to it.

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“They are having a funny season, winning well one week and then coming off the rails the next week, so you never know which Sudbury side will turn up.

“Chris Tracey (now assistant manager at AFC Sudbury) was joint manager with Danny Laws in his first season here, and he is still very highly regarded by everyone at the club.”

The match was originally due to be played on December 27, but the winter freeze put paid to what promised to be a bumper pay day for the Marketmen.

Bugg said: “We were massively disappointed that the match was postponed. Finances are a major part of the game and we are constantly trying to balance the budget.

“A home Bank Holiday fixture against Sudbury should have been a real gold mine for the club.

“We have been very pleased with the gates we have attracted season and are averaging 200 per game, and we hope we may get 400 or 500 on Tuesday night.”

Although Needham suffered the disappointment of seeing Saturday’s home game against Waltham Forest called off due to a waterlogged pitch, Bugg is not unduly concerned.

“We are not worried about a fixture backlog having an impact on our season at this stage - us and East Thurrock are miles ahead of anyone else - and we would have to do something pretty disastrous not to finish in the top two.”

Needham, who are two points ahead of East Thurrock with a game in hand, currently sit 15 points ahead of third-placed Wingate & Finchley with 13 league fixtures remaining.

With only the league winners winning automatic promotion, Needham will have to settle for a place in the play-offs if they fail to finish above East Thurrock.

“To win the league would be a massive achievement for the club, considering at the start of the season we said we would take stock and see how things go.

“But if we don’t win the league finishing second would at least give us home advantage in both the play-off semi-final and the final if we got through,” added Bugg.

Entrance to Tuesday night’s match at Bloomfields, kick-off 7.45pm, is �8 for adults and �5 for concessions.

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