This could be an unforgettable season for several of Suffolk’s non-league clubs
- Credit: Archant
This has already been an exciting start to the season for many of our Suffolk clubs, as football writer Carl Marston can testify from his frequent press box visits. In addition, below is all the best from tonight’s local action.
Bury Town’s terrific start to the season continued with a deserved 2-0 victory over higher league opposition in Nuneaton Borough, in an FA Cup third qualifying round tie tonight.
Another all-ticket Ram Meadow crowd of 400 enjoyed another fine display from their side, strikers Cemal Ramadan and Ollie Hughes both scoring during a four-minute spell of the first half to knock out their Step Three visitors.
A frustrated Nuneaton finished the game with just 10 men, due to defender Joel Kettle being shown a second yellow and ensuing red card on 86 minutes.
Ramdan broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute. Carlos Edwards delivered a free-kick deep to the far post, where Hughes connected with a header that flashed across the face of goal, enabling Ramadan to apply a simple finishing touch from just a couple of feet out.
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Hughes doubled the lead on 37 minutes with another well-worked goal. Hughes’ initial fierce shot was blocked by keeper Tony Breeden, but Edwards kept the move going by finding Maughn on the right flank.
Maughn’s low cross found its way through to Hughes, and his low shot deceived an unsighted Breeden as it rolled into the centre of goal.
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Bury began brightly and keeper Breeden, Nuneaton’s skipper, had to hold onto an early cross-cum-shot by Max Maughn, while a 20-yarder from Ramadan fizzed over the bar in the eighth minute.
The visitors began to boss possession and press back Bury, and Marcus Kelly volleyed over the bar from a promising position on the quarter-hour mark.
Yet the Blues defended well and then rocked Nuneaton with two quickfire goals to take a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Ramadan bundled home the opener from point blank range, and Hughes doubled the advantage with an instinctive finish just four minutes later.
Into the second half and it needed a superb last ditch challenge by Will Gardner to deny ex-Bristol City and MIddlesbrough striker Leroy Lita a clear sight of goal.
Veteran front-runner Lita, 35, looked certain to halve the deficit in the 67th minute when diverting a cross from substitute Ollie Bassett goalwards, but the ball was cleared off the goal-line.
Home keeper Joe Rose did not really have his first serious to make until the 74th minute, when he smothered substitute Andre Brown’s low drive down at his near post.
Rose also saved well from Devon Kelly-Evans late on to protect Bury’s lead and so see them through to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
BURY TOWN: Rose, Hood, Gardner, Edwards, Altintop, Hastings, Chambers-Shaw (sub Nyadzayo, 77), Snaith, Hughes, Ramdan, Maughn. Unused subs: Cook, Hammett, Mills, Frank, Mayhew.
NUNEATON BOROUGH: Breeden, Goodard (sub Stewart, 87), Godger, Edjenguele, Kettle, Kelly, Shamsi (sub Brown, 72), Lita, Edmunds (sub Bassett, 46), Tomkinson, Kelly-Evans. Unused subs: Dunbar, Landers, Ruff, Hood.
- Meanwhile, LEISTON are through to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, following a dramatic penalty shoot-out against AFC Telford United.
Leiston won the penalty shoot-out in sudden-death 9-8, with Sam Donkin securing victory with the vital save from the key penalty.
The match ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, with Leiston enjoying a fine first half and then surviving a late scare.
Finlay Barnes nearly broke the deadlock on five minutes, his close-range shot well saved.
Barnes then fired over the bar on 32 minutes as the Blues continued to look dangerous.
Midfielder Dylan Switters went close to an opening goal early in the second period, on 49 minutes, but Telford came closest to securing victory in the 87th minute when James Hardy hit the post.
And so this third qualifying round tie went to penalties.
It was 4-4 after the two teams had taken their first five spot kicks. Will Davies, Barnes and George Keys were among the early penalty scorers.
In sudden death, Josh Hitter, Rob Eagle, Donkin, Matt Weaire and Matt Richardson all converted their penalties, before keeper Donkin was crowned the hero with his save to see Leiston through to the next round at a delighted Victory Road.
- Needham Market beat Lowestoft Town 3-1 in the first leg of the Suffolk Premier Cup tonight.
Joe Marsden broke the deadlock in the ninth minute, cutting in from the left and curling a shot into the top corner of the net.
Gareth Heath doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time. Callum Page and Billy Hunt exchanged a neat one-two and Page’s low cross was diverted home by skipper Heath.
Adam Tann halved the deficit for Lowestoft in the 62nd minute, getting a touch to McIntosh’s free-kick to steer the ball home.
However, Hunt restored Needham’s two-goal lead by firing a rising shot into the roof of the net on 69 minutes, to give the Marketmen the advantage going into the second leg at Lowestoft next week.
- Meanwhile, this could develop into a very successful 2020-21 season for several of our Suffolk non-league clubs, if the first few weeks are anything to go by.
It is still early days, of course, and we live in uncertain times with the current Covid-19 pandemic and the potential for more restrictions in the future, which could affect the local non-league scene going forward into the winter months.
However, the early signs are that the likes of Needham Market, Bury Town and Ipswich Wanderers could all be on course for big seasons in their respective divisions.
The Marketmen look like they mean business this campaign, unbeaten in five league matches to sit level on top of the tough Southern League Premier Central.
Kevin Horlock’s men showed their resilience to secure a 1-1 draw at Banbury United on Saturday, courtesy of substitute Luke Ingram’s late equaliser.
The Needham squad is a pleasing mixture of youth and experience, with Academy products such as Jake Dye, Callum Page and Noah Collard blending in alongside such experienced heads as Gareth Heath, Marcus Garnham and Dan Morphew.
The sign of a good squad is often seen in the quality of the bench, and on Saturday Horlock had the luxury of bringing on attackers Ingram and Joe Marsden, who combined for the 83rd minute equaliser, while danger-man Adam Mills was also among the substitutes. Moreover, the Marketmen stretched their unbeaten league record even without skipper Keiran Morphew in the side. The centre-half was suspended for the trip to Banbury.
Meanwhile, fellow Suffolk side Bury Town look to have just as much potential for success at Step 4 in the Isthmian League North.
Ben Chenery’s men have won both their opening league games, and were leading 5-0 with seven minutes left in the abandoned game (because of fog) against Witham Town. A decision is yet to be made over whether that result will be allowed to stand.
The Blues have also been going great guns in the FA Cup and the FA Trophy.
They have a big goal-scoring threat in the partnership of Cemal Ramadan and Ollie Hughes, while Carlos Edwards has added a wise head to the middle of the park.
Jake Chambers-Shaw, in an attacking midfield role, and centre-half Taylor Hastings have also particularly caught the eye during the first few weeks of the campaign.
Furthermore, Bury have a number of long-term injured players waiting to return during the course of this season, including Ryan Jolland, Ollie Fenn, Ryan Stafford, Ryan Horne and Joe White.
Ipswich Wanderers also look poised to mount a promotion bid at Step 6, in the Thurlow Nunn League North this term.
Wanderers, who are still in the FA Vase, are unbeaten after six league matches with five wins, to be level on points with leaders Fakenham Town, so it could be an exciting season at Humber Doucy Lane.
Fellow Suffolk side Lakenheath should also be in the mix.
Norfolk clubs Wroxham and Norwich United have been making the early running in the Thurlow Nunn Premier, but the Suffolk presence is still strong in the top 10 with Hadleigh United, Walsham Le Willows and Brantham Athletic all impressing, with bigger guns Stowmarket Town and Mildenhall Town ready to mount strong challenges as the weeks go by.