Needham Market’s Darryl Coakley has a point to prove in the FA Cup

Needham Market coach Steve Foley and defender Darryl Coakley

Needham Market coach Steve Foley and defender Darryl Coakley - Credit: Andy Abbott

Needham Market defender Darryl Coakley is ready to prove a point in Saturday’s massive FA Cup fourth qualifying round at Bloomfields.

The step four mid-Suffolk side are just one win away from the first round of the world-famous club competition and a potential money-spinning tie against the likes of Wolves or Sheffield United.

First they need to get past unbeaten Skrill Premier league-leaders Cambridge United though. And while the Marketmen players don’t need any extra motivation, left-back Coakley is particularly fired up.

The 22-year-old was let go by Ipswich Town at the age of 16 and then subsequently released by Cambridge United after making just eight league starts in the top tier of the non-league game.

An equally frustrating time at hometown club Bury Town followed, but he rebuilt his career at Mildenhall Town last season before joining Mark Morsley’s revolution at Needham.

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“I was at Ipswich between the ages of eight and 16,” says Coakley. “I went to Cambridge as a scholar and subsequently was offered a professional deal, but I was never given the chance to make the left-back slot my own and in the end I was released having made eight first team starts.

“I was obviously disappointed, but you just have to keep believing in yourself.

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“I’ve got a bit of a point to prove this weekend.

“You want to show them that they made a mistake in letting you go.”

There may be 75 places between them in the non-league pyramid, but Coakley says the Ryman League Division One North hosts – who have former pros Kem Izzet, Ian Westlake and Jamie Guy – can cause an upset against the U’s.

“We’re the heavy underdogs, there’s no getting away from that, but we have to believe we can win,” said Coakley, a psychology student at the University of Essex.

“This is the FA Cup, anything can happen, and all the pressure is going to be on them.

“The FA Cup may not be as glamorous as it once was to the big teams, but for the non-league clubs it’s still the top competition. This is a chance for us to test ourselves against so-called better teams and better players.”

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