On a day of brotherly love and settling family scores, Ace and Lamell Howell were thrilled to fire Needham Market into the FA Cup third qualifying round.
The duo came off the bench to settle the Marketmen’s nerves after London Tigers’ Terence Cariba and Ayoub Amellal had threatened an unlikely comeback from 3-0 down.
Ryan Crisps’s brace had Needham seemingly in charge after an opener from Sam Newson — whose twin brother Ben missed a penalty for Brightlinsea Regent in defeat to the Tigers in the previous round — but the Howells had the final say to make it 5-2.
“It’s a great feeling,” said 17-year-old academy product Ace, who also set up his brother’s strike. “We’ve talked about playing for the same team for years and for it to finally happen is just mad — especially in the FA Cup.”
Lamell, 18, signed for Needham in the week leading up to the match after being released by Cambridge United and was delighted to make an impact as a second-half substitute.
He said: “Ace put in a good word about Needham, I came and watched the game on Tuesday, trained Thursday and was buzzing to play on Saturday.
“It was a great feeling to be set up by Ace to score.”
After dispatching the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side, Ace is targeting a place in the first round proper and a tie with the likes of FA Cup winners Sheffield United, Preston North End or Portsmouth — a possibility that is just two wins away.
“I think we can go really far in this competition,” he said. “We’ve got loads of great potential.”
Needham’s day seemed like it was going to be so much simpler than it turned out when Newson headed them in front in the 15th minute from a terrific move.
Chris Hogg sent a pinpoint crossfield ball to the left, where Darryl Coakley struck a first-time cross on the run that Newson guided into the top right corner.
With his family watching from the Bloomfields stands, it was a piece of redemption for the Newsons after twin Ben’s woe against the Tigers in the first qualifying round 14 days earlier.
“Ben told me they were quite a well-organised side and they snatched a late goal,” said the prolific front man. “But we set our stall out really well and created some really good chances.
“It was nice we got an early goal and built on that as well.
“My family were here and enjoyed that plus Ben and Brightlingsea have done us a favour by getting a point against (title rivals) Harlow Town, so it’s a happy Newson family.”
The striker’s opener was his ninth goal in five games and he admitted he had built up a few superstitions during that short period of time.
“Everything has stayed the same for the last few games, so I’m in a bit of a rhythm,” added Newson. “I’m keeping up with everything I’m doing to hope it continues because we’re winning at the moment and playing well as a team.
“Fingers crossed we can take that into the league as well.”
When asked what his superstitions were, Newson added: “The things that I eat, the socks that I wear and I get here quite early to get strapped up.”
Needham received a 13th-minute let-off when Zaied Sabti’s header was ruled out for offside and they used that as the wake-up call they needed to take the lead with Newson’s header less than 120 seconds later.
He almost improved his 11-goal tally for the season in the 28th minute when his swirling, curling shot was fisted away from the top left corner by Arlys Pampolim.
The Marketmen remained well on top and Coakley’s free-kick was unconvincingly gathered by Pampolim before Keiran Morphew sent a fizzing shot just wide of the left post with the visiting custodian rooted to the spot.
Their second did arrive just before the break when Crisp held off a defender to clip Coakley’s cross over the advancing Pampolim and into the net.
He repeated the trick three minutes the other side of the interval when he stretched his leg high to lift Kem Izzet’s bouncing pass over the goalkeeper for 3-0.
It took 57 minutes for the Tigers to shoot in anger, but they managed to net a consolation strike when Izzet’s late challenge was punished by Cariba’s curling free-kick that beat goalkeeper Shaun Phillips and ended up in the bottom right corner.
Some dreadful Needham defending gave the Paddington-based side hope when the Marketmen failed to react sufficiently in their own penalty area and Amellal tucked the ball into the empty net after Phillips had saved at the feet of substitute Kye Hendrix.
However, the Howell brothers made sure there would be no fairytale for the lower-league underdogs when Lamell touched in Ace’s cross in the 86th minute and the latter ran through soon after to poke home the Marketmen’s fifth.