POLL: Miles Powell strike sends Felixstowe & Walton United to Suffolk FA Premier Cup final
Suffolk FA Premier Cup semi-final Felixstowe & Walton United 1 Needham Market 0 Miles Powell’s sublime first-half goal was enough for Felixstowe & Walton United to see off the challenge of Needham Market last night and progress into the final of the Suffolk FA Premier Cup at Portman Road, where they will face Bury Town.
A league below their foes, the Seasiders, second in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division, went into the game as the underdogs, but put in an truly brilliant display to overturn a Needham side who gave it their all but couldn’t find a way past their dogged opponents.
In a exhilarating opening half, with both sides playing fluent and fast-paced football, it was the Ryman North’s Needham Market who came out of the blocks quicker as Seasiders’ centre-half Dan Davis was grateful to see keeper and man-of-the-match Danny Crump prevent his sliced clearance from entering his own net after 10 minutes.
Felixstowe aren’t flying high in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division for nothing though, and after ex-Marketman Danny Thrower had tested Andy Plummer with a fierce effort in the 17th minute, there was little Plummer could do to prevent an absolutely majestic strike from Powell just a minute later.
There looked to be little on for the midfielder when the industrious Jordy Matthews picked him out 20 yards from goal, but with a swing of a left leg, Powell sent an unstoppable effort into the far top corner, leaving Plummer as stunned as the crowd as he stood in awe and watched, rooted to the spot.
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The Seasiders were rampant, and sensing blood, Powell brilliantly won the ball high up the pitch 10 minutes later against a sleeping Needham defence to set free top marksman Ben Cranfield in on goal.
But for once, the prolific striker was off target as his chipped effort flew harmlessly wide.
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Needham’s biggest threat in the opening period was from Darryl Coakley’s sweet left-peg, and after already stinging the palms of Crump earlier in the game, his long-range 37th minute free-kick rattled the crossbar with the keeper a mere spectator.
Just before the break, Cranfield had the perfect opportunity to make amends for his miss but saw his penalty kick excellently saved by Plummer after the unplayable Powell had been dragged down by former Hibernian star Chris Hogg.
Fortunately for Felixstowe, it wasn’t to prove costly as the Seasiders, albeit with a bit of a luck, hung onto their slender lead with an impeccable defensive second half display.
After surely suffering the Mark Morsley hairdyer treatment at half-time, Needham started the second period in determined fashion.
Morsley switched right-back Ollie Fenn with the advanced Kieran Morphew to add a more physical presence up front for the Marketmen, and this nearly paid dividends straight from the restart as Fenn saw a scrambled effort beat Crump but not the woodwork from close-range.
Morphew was next to go mightily close for Needham but his powerful effort from 25 yards was brilliantly tipped over by Crump.
Winger Luke Ingram grew into the game for Needham and his superb solo run from the half-way line arguably deserved a goal, but again Crump wasn’t to be beaten as the keeper blocked expertly.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic though and whatever Ingram could do, Thrower could nearly do better, as he dazzled through a number of desperate Needham challenges but saw his end product tipped away at full-stretch by Plummer as the game continued.
Needham pressed and pressed for that seemingly elusive equaliser but that little bit of luck continued to desert them, and none more so than when Ingram saw his effort cleared off the line by Davis deep into the half after terrific work from Morphew down the right.
After a bout of late ooooh’s and ahhhhh’s from the crowd, referee Carl Fitch finally blew his whistle to send the Felixstowe camp into a state of ecstasy and on their way to Portman Road for the first time since 2002.
They will now face Ryman Premier side Bury Town, who beat Leiston 2-1 in the other semi-final on Tuesday night.
Felixstowe & Walton United: D.Crump, Pemberton, Hewitt, R. Barber, Davis, A. Crump, Powell (Clark), B. Barber, Matthews, Thrower, Cranfield (c).
Unused subs: Sheppard, Dew, West, Birchfield.
Needham Market: Plummer, Fenn, Coakley, Hogg, Nunn, Driver (c), Ingram, Izzet, Morphew, Charles (Malton), Newson.
Unused subs: Poxan, Norfolk, Seward, Munson.
Referee: Carl Fitch