ALAN TURVEY TROPHY
Needham Market 1
Brightlingsea Regent 3
Ian Miller has no doubts that Needham Market can avoid being relegated in their first season in the Ryman League Premier Division.
The former Bury Town defender, who enjoyed a nine year career as a professional at the likes of Ipswich Town and Cambridge United, made his home debut for the Marketmen on Tuesday night.
And after also playing 90 minutes in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Metropolitan Police in which Sam Newson scored, the 31-year-old has already seen enough to insist Needham can avoid the drop.
“It’s most probably been a bit of an eye-opener for them from the form they had last year to where they are this year,” he said.
“But that’s what you get when you step up a level. I think they’re finding their feet a little bit, but I have no doubts whatsoever that the personnel they’ve got in the dressing room, and the management team behind them, that this football club is more than adequate to stay up in this league.
“I don’t know if it’s a confidence thing because the boys aren’t flying at the moment. Individually we’re in good shape, it just doesn’t seem to be slotting into place.”
Miller was one of three players making his home debut for Needham on Tuesday, with striker Simon Thomas and Colchester United loanee Callum Harrison also included in the starting line-up for their Alan Turvey Trophy second round tie with lower league Brightlingsea Regent.
Mark Morsley’s side made a flying start to the cup tie when Sam Newson broke the deadlock on 10 minutes, before Phil Kelly struck in the 23rd and 32nd minutes to send the visitors into the break 2-1 up.
Needham were handed a golden chance to get back on level terms when Thomas went down in the box and was awarded a penalty, however Brightlingsea’s Daniel Beeson guessed correctly to keep out Joe Whight’s spot kick.
The home side’s hopes of getting back into the game were dealt another blow when Josh Mayhew lobbed Danny Gay to make it 3-1 on 55 minutes, before Harrison was shown a second yellow card four minutes later to leave Needham with 10 men.
“The first 20 minutes we started really well,” Miller reflected. “We moved the ball around and deservedly took the lead. Then they got control and scored two goals.
“If you look back at it there’s a number of points where both of the goals should be stopped.
“In the second-half we came out and again started well. We got the penalty and it was just one of those things.
“Joe was big enough to stand up and take the penalty, fair play to the kid. I thought he played well again.”
The Marketmen (21st) host in-form Hampton and Richmond Borough (sixth) in the Ryman League Premier Division tomorrow (3pm), before visiting lower league Whitton United in the Suffolk Premier Cup second round on Tuesday (7.45pm).