James Shea has revealed he would be happy to extend his stay at Needham Market after helping the club overcome rivals AFC Sudbury 2-1 in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
The former Arsenal custodian, who left the Gunners in the summer, was signed on an intended one-match basis to help cover the absence of Andrew Plummer and on-loan Sam Cowler for the cup encounter.
However, after being part of a ‘special’ game in which Luke Ingram’s opener was added to by Ian Westlake before Jamie Forshaw scored an injury-time consolation from the spot, to take the Marketmen to the fourth qualifying stage for the first time, Shea explained he would be happy to extend his stay at Bloomfields, no matter how briefly.
“It was a special game with a lot of passion and a cracking atmosphere,” he said.
“I’m delighted I came down and it was a great experience and all in all a really great win.
“As far as I’m aware, I’m only here for the one game, but if I had the chance to stay here for a little longer then I definitely would.
“I need to play games that is the most important thing and that is all I want to do at the moment.
“My main aim is still to get back into the professional game, but there is no point in me sitting at home doing nothing. I would rather be here playing games.
“The more games I play, the more I get a chance to impress and that’s what I’m trying to do.
“You can see how much it meant to everyone beating their local rivals and progressing and I’m delighted to have been part of it.”
In a first half in which saw the visitors enjoy the greater possession but Needham the clearer openings, the hosts went close to opening the scoring after just two minutes, but Sam Newson’s stinging was smartly turned away by Alex Archer.
At the other end, Shea was called into action for the first time to easily hold on to a weak Forshaw header in the 23rd minute, before Josh Carus lashed a first-time effort over Shea’s bar minutes later.
David Wareham called ex-Needham custodian Archer into action again as he cut in from the right before unleashing a curling effort, again instinctively palmed away by the shot-stopper, before the same player rifled over from inside the area, as the sides went in level at the break.
For all his fine work between the sticks, there was nothing Archer could do just six minutes after the break as Newson found Ingram in space, whose low drive took a decisive deflection of Ryan Henshaw to end up in the bottom left corner.
Archer denied the hosts the chance to double their advantage, keeping out another deflected Ingram effort and powerful drive from Newson, while at the other end substitute Peyton Swatman missed the Yellows’ best chance as his free header was smartly tipped away by Shea.
The Needham stopper showed safe hands again in the 70th minute to hold on to Scott Mitchell’s deflected effort as Sudbury pushed forward for an equaliser, even throwing centre-half Greg Crane up front for the final 10 minutes.
However, with men committed forward, the visitors were cut open with three minutes remaining as a series of sharp passes saw Newson clip the ball into the onrushing Westlake, who delicately lobbed Archer to double the hosts’ advantage.
With the game all but over, Sudbury were handed a lifeline as a incisive move involving Greg Crane, Ben Thompson and Matt Daniels, saw the latter upended by Sam Nunn in the area. Forshaw took responsibility and calmly converted from the spot.
However, despite a tense final few moments, there was to be no further late drama as Needham held on to progress.