Marketmen’s blushes are spared in replay thriller

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FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING

ROUND REPLAY

Ely City 3 Needham Market 4

(after extra time)

by Sam Murley at the Unwin Ground

NEEDHAM Market manager Danny Laws believes people should not be overly critical of his side, despite narrowly avoiding a cup upset at the hands of Ely City on Tuesday night.

Danny Thrower put the visitors ahead, before Ben Lawrence, Adam Murray and Luke Parkinson, in between an Adam Dalby own goal, gave the hosts a 3-2 half-time lead, but they could not hold out as a Darcy De’ath strike took the match to extra-time.

And with penalties looming, Needham’s blushes were spared as Scott Chaplin swept the ball home, three minutes from time, to finally see off the brave challenge of the Robins.

Despite a less-than-convincing win, Laws was quick to remind those casting doubt that his team are still a work in progress.

“There were a lot of errors, but I’m pleased with the endeavour shown,” he said. “Performance is the key and we need to make sure the levels are where they are supposed to be.

“We realise we have to keep working hard because we are not the finished article and we will continue to show that desire.”

The Marketmen opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Thrower, in space on the edge of the area, lashed home a left-footed strike into the right top corner.

It did not last long, however, as the hosts quickly seized the advantage to race into the lead. Lawrence took advantage of hesitant defending to head in a long Dalby free-kick before the industrious Murray won a 50-50 challenge with Gavin Johnson and smashed his right-foot shot past the helpless Andrew Plummer in the 18th minute.

Ely allowed the visitors back in the game in the 30th minute when Dalby inadvertently sent his back pass past the onrushing Pacey and into the empty net.

However they snatched the advantage back before the break as Parkinson rose above Lewis Pemberton to head Lawrence’s cross past Plummer.

The hosts then had themselves to blame again, after the break, as in the 65th minute captain Pacey handed Needham their equaliser. Failing to hold on to Dea’th’s strike, he could only watch in horror as the ball trickled into the bottom right corner, forcing extra-time.

A tense 27 minutes proceeded and with everyone preparing themselves for penalties, Needham broke home fans’ hearts as Scott Chaplin got on the end of Deakin Napier’s cutback to sweep past Pacey.

Needham travel to Romford on Saturday (3pm) before another away trip to Maldon & Tiptree on Tuesday (7.45pm) as Danny Laws aims to gain the club’s first away win in their Ryman League Division One North campaign.